Well, I decided to go to Tim's studio for class today instead of the other guy's place. I supposedly wasn't needed in the OR until 9:30 so if I started at 7:00 at Tim's, I could get in a full practice. Probably. I started bending as soon as they said "Tat sat" in the pranayama class that finishes right before mysore class starts. I hadn't really decided on whether to do first series or second but somewhere along the way in the standing poses I settled on second. I was all gung ho last night to get back into doing Viparita Chakrasana again. I figured if I was going to do it after class today, it might go easier if I had done some of the back bending poses from second series than if I had done first series.
The class went fairly well. Last night my wife informed me that another student's Kapotasana was much better looking than mine, which isn't saying much, but is the kind of pronouncement that would make me go out and try and grab something higher up than my toenails. I tried to do as much arching as I could before letting my hands down. Once the head comes down, it's pretty much all over for getting more depth on your own. I tried to keep my head up for a bit and shift a little deeper after my hands came down. I don't know that it made much of a difference. It felt like I still had to do the usual wiggle, squiggle routine to slide my hands up to find my feet and get them up as far as I could. Today that was somewhere around the knuckle of the toes. I might have been able to get further on my own, but Tim stepped in right then and drew them back to roughly mid-foot. Before going into the pose, I would have bet money I would have been able to do more but there's a serious level of tension that builds up in my shoulders when people move my hands back towards my feet. If I could just relax more, I think I could over-ride it but usually I just get scared and tighten up. I waved off a second, deeper adjustment by Tim this morning. I'll stay with the gradual improvement approach for now. It's been gradual but it's also been working.
Today was the first time in quite a while that I got into Dwi Pada Sirsasana on my own. That pose and the Tittibhasana sequence are the poses that have regressed the most since January. I feel like I'm getting into Eka Pada Sirsasana as deeply and as readily as I ever have but I haven't been able to get the right extension of the right leg to get it back behind the left foot. I have no idea what was different today. I wasn't expecting to be able to do it. I was gonna put in my usual two or three tries then wait for Tim or Rich to wander over and crank me into it. I think even Tim was surprised as he commented that I made it on my own. He came over to help me get deeper but I was running low on energy by then. I had been in it for what passes for five breaths for me. I then had to hold it that much more while he got in position behind me and the pulled me deeper into it. When he was done, I didn't have enough neck strength left to keep my head up and resist the force of the legs. So I gave it a quick attempt at balancing again, then pushed up and vinyasa'd out. That's another thing that has really sucked the last few months, making the vinyasa back from Tittibhasana position, whether after Supta Kurmasana, Dwi Pada or after the Tittibhasanas. I can extend the legs into a reasonable Tittibhasana but I haven't had the bandha wherewithal to transition into Bakasana or to even simply shift straight back into Chaturanga. I'd get my butt started up but I'd hit the wall and run out of energy and momentum, give up and let my legs slide down my arms and then stand there all bent over for a second to catch my breath. Today I was able to use the rationalization that my mat was too close to the people on each side of me. Didn't want to go kicking anyone in the face after all.
After finishing my main poses, I checked the clock. I didn't have enough time to do the whole backbending sequence and also do the closing poses and still get a Savasana out of the deal. I figured I'd just do my usual three backbends and call it a day, easily talking myself out of dropbacks and Viparita Chakrasana. But, my failure to do better in Kapotasana was still bugging me. Plus, I knew I had to start doing that stuff again at some point. I decided to skip the closing poses and do all the backbending stuff, though it wouldn't have taken much to nudge me into calling it a day and trundling off to work.
I did three drop backs after my back bends. Then I sat and futzed around trying to figure out why I was so nervous to try Viparita Chakrasana again. My back bending was reasonably back to my norm. My handstanding is arguably as good as I have done to date, not good but as good as I have done, meaning I was able to hold it for a five count after two of the Navasanas on Tuesday, a first for me. Usually it's none. So, why the hesitation? I made it into handstand but underbalanced several times, tilting back down to my feet. I finally fell over one time, in a less than delicate fashion. After a repeat type of landing on my second attempt, Tim wandered over and said, "That sounds like it's raining elephants." I gratefully accepted his offer for doing assisted VC. In the past, I didn't think being assisted helped all that much. In fact, it seemed to me that it would be easy to totally miss out on learning how to actually do the pose by depending on the assist, instead of learning what movements were really needed. Today, however, I had no problem accepting the help. It had been too long since I had done it and I had no confidence. We did the rest of the sequence in reasonable fashion. No more elephants raining down.
I closed by just doing the last three poses and a short Savasana. I then tottered off to work, definitely in a better mood than I would have been in if I had skipped doing those backbending poses. When I got to work, I was informed that the first short case that was scheduled for 8:30 didn't show up (maybe she decided that Friday the 13th wasn't the best day to have her tubes tied), so they had been waiting for me to do the second case for about 45 minutes. Kinda ruined that post-practice glow, if you know what I mean.