I feel like I did last year when I stopped posting for few months--very uncreative. I don't want to post just to post. I want what I put down to be at least semi-interesting. But, I don't seem to be getting interesting ideas. I was talking to the wife of my teacher once. She mentioned that when he was in Mysore early on in his 'career', he started a diary or journal. He kept at it for a while but ultimately abandoned it because every day's entry was just like the previous one. I get into that position sometimes too. Sometimes, I have just the opposite occur. I get more ideas of stuff to talk or write about than I can keep track of. Other times, like now, I feel like my brain is on hold. Let's see what I can do.
I had a rare day off today. Not off after working the night before, just good old fashioned off--at least until this evening when I am on call. Therefore, I was able to get in a rare weekday Mysore class at 7:00. I found out early on that it was going to be a stiff kind of day. Just doing my warm up routine while the others were doing pranayama, I was feeling tightness at the hamstring insertions, in my shoulders, even stuff that I don't normally think about required some caution. I had originally planned on doing my second series stuff but, with the degree of stiffness I was perceiving, I decided to do first series. I planned to do my second poses if I loosened up while doing the first series poses. By doing all my poses like that, I wouldn't have enough time to do any research stuff to help with my back bending. That worked out okay because the one area that didn't seem worse than usual was my back. It wasn't good, just no worse than usual. The advantage, as I saw it at the time, was that I was likely going to be low on time and energy and would probably have to put off doing some of the closing stuff, like drop backs. You have to make your cuts where you have to make them.
I was practicing near a couple of my teachers and some other really good practitioners. I tried to do a reasonably good job and avoided a lot of the slacker stuff that I slip in to at times. I dearly wanted not to have to do Hanumanasana and Samakonasana. I was tight in those areas and I hadn't done either of them in quite a while. I knew it was going to hurt and I was going to have regressed in how far I could go in both of them. I did them anyway. They hurt but I didn't have to face the guilt that I would have if I had skipped them. A potentially ominous trend was starting--conscientiousness. As I did the standing poses, I was still debating whether to go ahead and do the first series or to veer off after Parsvottanasana and do my second series poses. I didn't really want to do all of the first series poses but I felt like the second series poses were going to suck if I didn't, especially the foot behind the head stuff. I was doing poses in roughly the same timing as the teacher near me and she was doing first so I decided to go ahead and at least do the first series poses. Maybe that's all I'd get in, I thought hopefully. I did start to feel and do better as I went on. Without trying to move quickly, it seemed like I got through most of the first series in just a short while. It actually took me longer than it usually does, so I must have been focusing inside better and not noticing things, like pace. I also wasn't getting very tired. The room was pretty cool, it took me a while to get some sweat dripping. As I neared the end of the poses, the person next to me started their backbends and finishing poses. I wasn't ready to quit, so I went on into my second series poses.
Nothing was really great in the second but most of the poses were surprisingly better than I expected. Since my hamstrings hadn't felt too loose in the first series, I expected a bad Krounchasana. It was actually better than usual. I'll never understand how this stuff works. One pose that wasn't very good was Kapotasana. I was barely grabbing the tips of my toes. I held it for a short while and then started to move my hands into position for the straight arm portion. The teacher was just stepping in to adjust me as I began to move out of the pose. I sank down to the floor and started to mumble how today wasn't a good day. I looked at him though and decided to try it again with his help. Couldn't be any worse. He got me quite a bit further than I was able to do on my own. A friend had recently suggested to me that, rather than doing all those research poses that I usually do before Kapotasana, that I should instead just do the pose three times. I think that will probably work very well. When I do those classes up in Santa Monica, I don't do research and I do most of the back bending poses okay. I get quite a bit out of the research stuff though. It's very clear to me that doing the lunge stuff against the wall has led to me getting much better range of motion, enough that I was able to get into Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana on my own on one side recently and have been able to be put into something close to Raja Kapotasana a couple of times. If nothing else, doing all of that work has made doing the poses seem like less of a big deal. In doing the research for Kapotasana, I've already done poses that maximally bend my back, so doing Kapotasana becomes just another progression, not some edgy, fear inducing pose.
I've really been intrigued by the notion of going into lotus while in handstand. I saw one of the better guys in our studio do it after Kapotasana and then lower down to Urdhva Kukkutasana before settling to the floor for Supta Vajrasana. That seemed like a great thing to be able to do. I've managed to get into lotus while in handstand once ever, and then just for a second or two. I couldn't quite get it today. I tried a couple of times but didn't want to waste too much time or energy. I could get balanced enough to get one leg in place but would lose it trying to get the other leg positioned. I landed a nice, soft Bakasana B. Couldn't hold it for long, but it was a good landing. I've got to get filmed some time to see what it is that I do right when I can land that pose and what it is that I do wrong on the days when I just can't pull it off. I surprised my self by getting into Dwi Pada Sirsasana on my own, on my second try that is. I still felt stiff when I was doing the Eka Pada versions, so I though I'd have to get help for Dwi Pada. I managed to get the foot slipped into place without too much of a struggle. I was in a pretty scrunched up position though. I couldn't get any extension of my head and neck going. Even after getting an adjustment, I felt my legs were overpowering my neck. I didn't even try to balance once he let me go after the adjustment. I knew it wasn't going to happen.
Karandavasana was the same old same old. After I tried it a few times, Tim helped me through a version of it. Afterwards, he gave me a rare suggestion of what I need to do differently. Tim is not one to carry on much. He's a man of very few words. The impression is that the practice is something to be learned and developed through experience and personal insight, rather than through a paint-by-the-numbers description. So, to get a review of what I was doing and what I should be trying to do was unusual, though gratefully received. It's so hard to know what it is one is actually doing. It's often not what we think we are doing, or are trying to do. When I'm trying to bring my knees down toward my armpits, he suggested that I need to arch much more than I am to activate the bandhas. As it it, I'm apparently going down relatively straightbacked and have no lift to counteract the weight of my lower body as it drops past the vertical. As he is wont to say, I need to suck it up.
After doing three backbends in reasonable form, I had to make a decision: put off doing the dropbacks versus trying to do them. I only had about twenty minutes left before it would be time to leave. The last time I tried to drop back, it took me nearly twenty minutes just to get three drops backs done. I kept chickening out. Then I started to get dizzy when I leaned back, etc. etc. I decided to go ahead and try it today. I had a really good arch going on my first try but I let myself off the hook by coming out of it. That really pissed me off. It was just going to make each subsequent try that much harder to do. I managed to let myself go and dropped on my next try. I cursed audibly after landing though. It was really flat and uneven, one hand landing a half a second before the other. The next two were similar but I was able to do them with a minimum of fuss. I've got to get my arms coming down more directly though. It feels like I'm un-arching as I release back, maybe due to a perceived poor range of motion in my shoulders. Rather than make them come on through, I'm letting my body go to where they are. Getting the dropbacks out of the way so quickly was really energizing. I hadn't felt very tired up to that point, so I felt pretty good with that out of the way. I did my tic-tacs on my own. I can't come back up and over to standing when I drop into back bend from hand stand but I think I'm getting a better idea of how I need to do it eventually. Trying to come back up from that is not as uncomfortable for me as attempting to come out of Viparita Dandasana. That one really makes my back feel too scrunched when I try to lift back over. It feels like I have to do all the work with my back muscles. In Viparita Chakrasana, when I come back over, or try to, I feel like I can use my arms and shoulders more and can drive my chest further. I couldn't do Vrshikasana worth squat today, but I haven't tried that one too much on my own yet.
There were several people in class today who had gone to Tim's seminar in Tulum last winter. I met them for breakfast after I managed to wrap up all my stuff. I was the last one done today. I only went fifteen minutes over. One of Tulum folks is a guy from Milan (I think), who lives in NYC right now. He had come out west to do some climbing in Joshua Tree but the recent rainy weather turned that into a less than fun experience so he came to Encinitas to practice until the weather got better. He's a great guy, very upbeat fun personality. I'd love to be able to practice with him regularly, I'd learn so much, or at least I'd hope that I could. He does some things so easily, so powerfully. In Tulum, with one small suggestion and demonstration, he was able to get me started on being able to make the lift up that comes after Utkatasana. One of the other people I met with at breakfast would normally practice in our studio but she has been out with a bad knee injury. That injury has now progressed into a related inflammation of her hip as she tried to rehab. So, she's been out of the studio loop almost since February. That would be a very bitter pill for me to take. They were sitting with a couple of Tim's regular students who had also been in Tulum. Kind of neat to be able to get a group reassembled like that.
Well, It wasn't much but it took up a fair space. Tomorrow looks like a soccer day again. Sunday should work out for practice though, hopefully second series