I know what I'm going to do for Halloween this year. I'm going to go as a drop back. Today I was next to another guy and we were both attempting to do drop backs. After watching us for a bit, Tim walked up and said, "Boy, you're a couple of scary looking guys." That's me baby, horror incarnate. But, I did them. All three of them. I was setting up my mat at the start of class when the person who helped me out the very first time I was able to drop back came into the room and set up her mat a few spaces away. It's been a little over a year since she talked me into making that first successful drop back and I don't think I've seen her more than a few times since then. I thought that it had to be some kind of omen that she would come to class when I was once again trying to do drop backs. Maybe the gods sent her there to act as my drop back muse. After I did my poses and backbends, I looked over to where she was set up. The person next to her was taking a short pause so I asked her if we could switch spots. She looked puzzled but agreed to do it. I got a few weird looks as I moved into the new spot but I wasn't concerned with anybody else. I was trying to drop back. So, once in place, I interrupted the closing sequence of the woman who had helped me once before and asked her if she would help me again. She also looked a little confused but I gave a very brief explanation of how the only other time I was able to do this was when she talked me through it. She seemed agreeable to help, after all, what I am doing is more important than what anybody else might be trying to do, eh? At any rate, once I knew I had her to tell me it was okay, I didn't think about it any more. I was going back and that's all there was. I arched and, after one or two minor repositionings, I released and went back. The landing was a little heavy but acceptable. I stood up, something shy of smoothly, and set up to do it again. Last year, when she helped me do it the first time, I only did it once then I moved on to the closing poses, satisfied with my victory. This time I wanted to do it the right way, which means three drops and stand back ups. She stayed with me, kindly interrupting her practice to reassure me that I was in a good position and telling me when to let go. I landed the second two a little funny, hitting down with my right hand a half a second before the left came down. The second rep was a little on the flat side and my arms were bent too. I didn't hit the old cantaloupe though, so I kept moving. If I did anything right today it was not stopping to think. I just kept going. I can't thank her enough. I don't know why I felt more comfortable with her telling me it was okay when others have tried to tell me the same thing. I just felt reassured as soon as I saw her come in. Having her nearby worked, so I am totally indebted. Next time I won't make people move their mats around or have them stop their practices just to help me. Unless I really need to.
The rest of the practice today? Kind of got overshadowed. I don't remember a whole lot. I tried to get a wrist in Pasasana again but failed. That's hard. One little wiggle of my finger to try and get farther down my wrist sets off this whole domino of teeters and totters, with the resulting need for all kinds of re-balancing counter measures. It's a total work out of the lower body in one essentially undetectable movement. I think to get my wrist I'm going to have to melt off an inch or few of "bad fat" from my midsection. I remember feeling pretty loose in this when I was doing that class up in LA on almost no food for two days.
I had a pretty good feeling Kapotasana, even if it wasn't any deeper than I've done in the past. It didn't feel as edgy and I didn't struggle as much as usual in the straight arm portion and in the come back up. After doing the pose, I went into handstand and tried to go into lotus while up. Tim will call this out sometimes in his Intro to Second class or in his led Second class, knowing full well that only a couple of people can do it. I had to re-try the handstand a couple of times. At one point I did get both feet into lotus but it was a transitory thing. As soon as I got them in, I started to tilt over and my butt started down. I had to bail out quickly because that's a lot farther to fall down to the ground onto my butt than it is in Karandavasana. Still, I was able to maintain the handstand well enough to at least go through those gyrations, so it's coming. The lowering from Adho Mukha PadmaVriksasana in a controlled fashion down into normal lotus is more than a ways off. So is lowering to Urdvha Kukkutasana. Never hurts to explore though.
Once again I couldn't get Bakasana B. I almost couldn't hold the A version. My knee slipped off of my arm when I first went into A. I wiped off all the sweat and was able to hold the re-do. I tried B about three different times but never got the right weight shift or the right flight path and never came close to landing or holding it. There's days. I wanted to see if I could hang onto my toes in Supta Vajrasana if I used a towel over my toes for traction, like the teacher at Yoga Works had suggested to me. The person helping me did all of the work but I was able to get down for the first five count and still hold on. It was pretty uncomfortable along the inner aspect of my right wrist though. My left hand slipped off as I started doing the five up and down movements so I just did the rest of the movements holding on to his hands like usual. Another hard pose to figure out what needs to change to make it go better. Is more external shoulder rotation needed? A deeper lotus? More back arch? All the above? I'll keep trying it as long as it doesn't hurt the wrist.
I think that may be it for me this week for practices at my main studio. Tomorrow is a moon day, so no classes then but I can go to the class my wife teaches at another studio. Don't know about that though. Some whacko has been driving by the place screaming out "Cult" and other stuff at people who go in and out of the studio, I guess maybe to try and intimidate them. He apparently also wrote or painted the word "Cult" on the outer wall of the studio and on the public sidewalk out front. The owner intelligently added the letters u, r, and e to his graffiti. They have an idea of who the person is based on his car's license plate. My wife said they think he has a family member, a daughter or something, who had gone to some classes at the studio. You never know with these kind of people. I might get a chance to practice later in the week if the work schedule gods play along. Unfortunately, my teacher will be out of town giving some conferences in Boston and Shelburne Falls, MA (wherever that is).
I just remembered that Tim has just put together a very nice Ashtanga calendar for 2005 with photos of him and some of his teachers doing various asanas. If you look really closely at the September picture, you can see my wife's knee and what she claims is her chest. You may need to actually buy one to get a good enough look though.