Sunday, September 12, 2004

The second series class today was a little disappointing. Somewhere along the line, I lost some motivation. I didn't want to push the edge in some of the poses as much as I might usually. This was most noticeable near the end in the closing sequence. After doing Pascimottanasana, we lay back into a pose called Tadaka Mudra prior to doing shoulder stand. The pose looks like a good place to take a break since you're just lying there on your back, but it's actually a very active pose. You're supposed to engage all the bandhas, extend through the legs, the arm, the neck, yada yada. I would start out ok but would find that I was letting go of stuff, my legs would roll out to the side, I wasn't keeping the chin down towards the chest. Minor stuff but it was a bothersome trend that continued in some of the following poses. I usually struggle a bit to get my arms and hands all the way down to the ground in Halasana and Karna Pidasana. I can do it some times but it's definitely work. By that point today, I had no interest in going for the best end result. I just got into the pose and left it at that. Don't know why I was off like that today. I'm thinking in hindsite it was due to me getting up and getting a drink after we finished Nakrasana. That must have thrown off my internal momentum or something. Some days are good and some days disappoint.

My wife was expecting me to struggle today. We went to the movies with the kids yesterday. I ate the obligatory candy and the popcorn with extra salt and butter. She was certain I'd have a hard time binding Tittibhasana B and maybe even Pasasana. I bound with no trouble though. I still couldn't get into Dwi Pada Sirsasana on my own. I haven't gotten into it on my own in a while now. No clue what I'm not doing or what it was that I was doing the times I was able to get into it in the past. I didn't do as well with Karandavasana today either. I took me a time or two to get up into Pincha Mayurasana. I was able to get my legs crossed but then lost my balance before I could lower down. The second time I tried it, I started to lower but lost it quickly and went to ground. I looked up to see my wife's feet standing there. I guess she had planned on assisting me but I fell out of it too quickly for her to be able to salvage it. My third go around, the teacher got me into a deeper Lotus and helped me lower and come back up. Getting assisted helps give the sense of what it feels like to be in the final pose and a hint of what muscle action you need to do to come back up. But, being helped into the pose does very little that I can perceive to help you actually learn how to do the pose. There, I think you just have to learn how to control the weight shifts and how to use your core muscles. You have to just keep trying and screwing it up and trying again to gradually accrue the ability.

There was a person across from me today who recently moved to our area. Both she and her partner have really nice practices. I delayed going into several of my poses to see how she did some things. In Karandavasana, she dropped her knees down to her armpits but didn't lower her hips. She held her knees there for the five count then lifted them back up. My teacher does that too. He had told us that if you can't lower into the full pose, the best thing to do is lower as far as you can get back up from. For most of us that is not lowering much at all. I'll try that next time, working more on just getting a stable posture with my hips flexed. If I can manage to get into that position, then I'll work on gradually letting the hips come down.

I've been trying to do a couple of "extra" things in my practices that I think may help me build core strength and that will help me be able to make the movements necessary to hold and get back up from Karandavasana. One of those things is doing Urdhva Sirsasana. After headstand, before lowering down into Balasana, I would press up, lifting my head as far off of the floor as I can and hold it. After doing that for a while, I started trying to do Ardha Urdhva Sirsasana, where you lower the legs half way down while keeping the head lifted up. That is really hard to do, for me. I can lower them and can even hover them for a second or two, but getting them back up is beyond me. After yesterday's Viparita Dandasana embarrassment, I realized that my perception of where my body parts were did not correlate with where they really were. When I've lowered my legs in Urdhva Ardha Sirsasana, I thought they were close to being horizontal, maybe a few degrees above it. Today I decided I would try to look to see where they really were. It's not the easiest thing to do because of the stresses on the shoulder but it turns out that I'm not getting close to horizontal. I'm going to take the same approach in trying to lower and get back up in this one as in Kapotasana. I'm going to focus on getting up as much as in getting down. Then hopefully I'll actually learn how to use some of those muscles that allegedly exist there in my core.

We finished class today with only five or six minutes before the next class was due to begin. We had a reasonable Savasana but it wasn't long enough to fully cool down. There's tons of things that I like about taking class with Tim. One of the best is that he always gives us Savasanas that are long enough for us to cool down and to get fully relaxed. I always feel better after a practice when I can do that. Maybe it's something to do with the distribution of the energy from the practice, but I can tell the difference when we get a Savasana that only lasts a few minutes.

Tuesday is the new moon. Of course, that's a day that I have off, the day that I can't practice. I'll find something somewhere. I'm not sure about the rest of the week. Hopefully, I'll get a couple of chances later in the week.

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