I'm in the midst of that week of early and long days at work. I've gone to the early class at the nearby "other" Ashtanga studio most of the days that I could. Today I had an interesting and somewhat entertaining practice there. The last couple of times I went there, I got there right at 6:00 and the teacher was already there. I showed up at a quarter till today in hopes that he would be there so that I could start that much earlier. He wasn't there when I got there but showed up about five minutes later. I trundled right up to him as he opened up the studio and gave a happy, shiny, "Hey, Good morning. Howzit going?"" He looked back, face still swollen from sleep, with a look that seemed to say, "Jesus Christ, it's not even 6:00. I'm already opening up 30 minutes before the schedule says we start. So now you show up 15 minutes before that?" but pleasantly greeted me. I was worried I'd overstepped things but within five minutes, two other students showed up, so I just went ahead and practiced.
I was better at my efficiency today. I got through things by a quarter after 7:00. Still not enough time to do anything extra but enough to do my postures without being too rushed and to do all the closing poses as well and still have a Savasana that was long enough for the sweat to dry.
I struggled a bit for some reason in Pasasana on my left side. I usually use a T-shirt over my legs to minimize slipping from the sweat. Today it was the shirt that was making me slip. After a couple of tries, including a fairly strong adjustment by the teacher, I pulled the shirt off and tried it skin to skin. I had less slippage but was tired enough by then that I didn't do much better. Since I had a small window of time, I gave it up and moved on.
With no researching, Kapotasana was a bit shallower than usual but I got a pretty good adjustment in it, not so deep as to make me tighten up, but enough to put me at the edge. After holding my legs in Supta Vajrasana, this teacher has been helping me lift up into handstand. He essentially does all the lifting. I guess it's to give me an idea of what the body does when it's making that movement because it's light years from what I could do on my own. Today, he held back a bit, so I set up to try and do a lift up and jump back with my legs in lotus. I can do this sometimes, but not often. When he saw me getting ready to do that, he asked if I wanted him to help get me up the rest of the way. I gave him one of those, "Sure, yeah, I guess, why not?" shrugs. He stands right in front of me and takes hold of me near my hips to help me up. "Okay, whenever you're ready," he told me. I guess he expected me to do the appropriate move which is to press up but to also pivot forward so that the head dips down and the hips come up. Well, I did the lift up part, forcefully, but didn't manage any dippage forward. The top of my head whacked right into his vital nether regions. He took it like a real yogi though and still helped me up to handstand.
Revenge was to be had however. Later, when I was doing my attempt at lowering myself into Karandavasana, I asked aloud in that halting, squeaky voice that goes with complete exertion, "How...far...down...are...my...knees?" "Uh, about three inches," he laconically answered, "Sorry about that mate." I gave up and let him take me the rest of the way through the pose. Humble pie. I have no proprioceptive awareness whatsoever. At least everybody in the room had a good laugh at my version of reality.
This teacher definitely gives the deepest foot behind the head adjustments I've had. It feels great afterwards. Today, I had one of my feet in place and was trying to do the usually wiggle and squirm routine to get it better seated. He came up behind me and started to pull it in deeper. "Hold on a second here," he advised, "Let me just work this down here to your scapula." My eyes popped wide open on hearing that, but he got it down there with no problem.
Surprisingly, even after that deep of an adjustment, my Tittibhasana B was pretty weak. I barely got my fingers together. He was right there to help with that too. I have to say, for those that may feel that they don't get enough attention in a larger class, this studio would be ideal, because with seven or eight students, it seems like he's there whenever you need him.
I was able to practice both days this weekend. The Saturday Improv class was taught by a different teacher than usual. He is one of Tim's third series students and is very low key but gives a very good class that flows well. He does a good job of assembling poses to maximally prepare the group for the more challenging crux poses that he does at the end. On Saturday, we ended up at Viparita Dandasana. By the time we got there, I felt pretty open in the shoulders and back. It's a pose that I can clumsily drop into and can do but in less than good form. I have never come close to coming back over however. On Saturday, I worked on doing the comeback the way that I had seen that teacher doing it in Mysore class. He lifts the head well up, walks his feet in a good ways, then arches the head back through and lifts the feet up and over. The second time I tried it, I actually got close enough to the point of coming back over that I was afraid I might do it, which of course caused me to come right back down to where I started. I guess I was worried I'd get into a position of commitment that would end up hurting but it would be too late for me to prevent it from happening. Next time I get that close, hopefully, I'll be less surprised and will let it happen, if it can.
Sunday's second series class went better than most. I held up better anyway. I didn't run out of gas, I had enough energy to give the last few poses a good effort, which I rarely do. I did my best ever seven headstands. I was even stable in Mukhta Hasta Sirsasana C, the whole time! Little victories, that's all you can ask.
Tomorrow I go to the early class for another quick and dirty practice but I should be able to do a full Mysore class at my usual studio on Thursday.
On Sunday, I went to the local street fair with my wife and two daughters and one of their friends. It was a nice relaxing time. We ingested the usual gastronomic horrors: funnel cakes with powdered sugar, California Quivers (a gelato/fruit ice kind of thing), Kettle Korn, etc. They painted ceramic things (ducks, kittens, frogs) that they'll never touch again. They got toe rings. We also went to this place that had stylists who would do your hair up all crazy with spray paint, glitter, feathers, pipe cleaners, flowers, all kinds of gew gaw stuff. Words to the wise: Dads, if you're taking three girls to a place like this, expect to get your hair done too. That stuff took forever to get out too. There must have been about thirty blue and green feathers stuck in my head. I still had gold glitter two showers later. As I sat there having it done, I figured it couldn't be too bad, even though I was the only adult guy that had been through the place all afternoon. The lady who was doing me kept telling me, "Don't worry, I'm making you look like a warrior." Seeing all those feathers going in, I was thinking, "Okay, yeah, I'm gonna look like one of those Toltec warrior baddasses from ancient Mexico." Well, let me tell you something, those hairstyle ladies lie. Big time. I maybe looked like a warrior from the ancient Fey clan. Got lots of "love the cute hair" comments from all the folks walking by though. The kids wanted to keep their hair and wear it to school the next day. They figured I'd want to do the same. I should have done it just to see if they'd really fire me.