Sunday, April 01, 2007

I picked up an extra call tonight at the last minute, so I'm back at my desk, trolling about, trying to keep my mind occupied. God forbid it should be allowed to go still. God forbid I should use the time to go practice while it's still relatively slow.

At one of my practices this week, a guy who I thought I recognized but if so it was from a long time ago, began setting up his mat. He went up to talk with Tim at the start of class, so I was pretty sure he was either new, had an injury or was visiting from somewhere else. When I heard Tim comment that the class was a mysore style class and that the expectation was that the student would go through the practice on their own, with assistance from the teachers, I figured he was a new student. He then set up his mat and watched most of the rest of the students get going with their practices. After about ten minutes, he got up and started doing a couple of sun salutations but not quite ashtanga sun salutations. After doing just a couple of A's, he then went to the back of his mat and started to look down at one of those posture cheat sheets. I knew then that he didn't have a good idea of what to do or how to do it. The class was a little full, so I knew the two teachers wouldn't have enough time to walk him through first series. I went over and asked if he wanted me to parallel him so he'd know what to do. He readily agreed. We practiced together through Navasana. He was starting to get fatigued I think. He got up to get a bottle of water near the end. I told him we'd stop there and do closing. When I started to show him the closing poses, Tim told me to keep practicing and had the guy just take rest. Walking into a class like that can be awkward for people that are really new to ashtanga. It is fairly easy for the wrong message to be received and for people to get turned off and decide that it's not what they want. I actually enjoyed the practice. I got sweatier than I did on either of my other two practices that week. The guy was holding poses a bit longer than I normally do on my own. Plus, either Tim or his assistant were regularly coming over and adjusting the guy, so I ended doing a reasonable amount work with the longer holds. That was actually the class that I first felt that my 'bad' hamstring was starting to feel the same as the other 'better' hamstring.

After class, I saw Tim while waiting in line at the coffee shop downstairs. He thanked me for practicing with the guy. Turns out he had practiced with Tim before but quite a while back. He'd been out with some kind of health issues and I guess was now looking to try ashtanga again. The guy was surprisingly good. He was at least as old as I am, maybe five or ten years older. He folded forward okay. Tim helped him with the leg raise at the end of utthita hasta padangustasana. His leg was one hell of a lot higher than mine gets. I gotta give the guy credit. He stayed with me the whole way. We did a lot more than is usually done in the typical gym ashtanga prep or vinyasa flow class. Doing all the way thru navasana when you haven't done any yoga in years is more than I would have wanted to do if I were in his shoes. I quit well before that plenty of times when I had just missed class for a few weeks. I don't know if I helped though, because I haven't seen him back since. Maybe I shouldn't have made him do janusirsasana C.

It has been interesting, in this recovery year (for want of a better term), to see what I lost and what didn't seem to go bad as I missed time. As I mentioned in my last post, I've had almost a full year of hamstring dysfunction. Forward bends, I regressed to levels comparable to early in my first year of practicing. Bandhas? Never a strength of mine and what little I had was quickly gone when I decreased my second series work. It was like I had never done bakasana B. Jump back from tittibhasana, or even get into bakasana from bhujapidasana? So much easier to just let those heavy old feet just sink to the floor and walk back. But back bending? There is some shoulder range of motion that I have to get back but I can still do pretty close to what I used to do, at least with urdhva dhanurasana. I haven't tried the second series stuff to really test this. I know kapotasana will be more of a toenail touch than really doing the pose. But, after I get a few shots at doing my prep work, I just get the sense that I'll be right back where I was. Hard to believe that, in a relative sense, backbending is now my best area. It says much more about the degradation of everything else than about my backbending, but it's still surprising to me. Why wouldn't I regress in my back as much as I seem to do everywhere else when I lay off for a few weeks?

Tim even commented after my last practice that I seemed to be finding my old stuff. That class was the first time in forever that I did dropbacks and standups after finishing my back bends. Tim's not one to give compliments and this wasn't one, but it was nice for him to let me know that he noticed I was progressing. I told him it was too bad, because it was going to be another week before I could practice again.

We had a yoga social event a couple of weekends ago. A couple of Tim's long time students got married on the beach in Del Mar. They had Tim officiate the wedding for them. The bride was the teacher I've written about so many times who teaches the Saturday morning improv class. The groom has been studying with Tim about as long as I have. I think they've been a couple now for three or four years. It was a beautiful sunny day at the beach, though slightly windy and chilly day in the shade. It was a chance to see a lot of people who I've seen or known in the past but whom no longer come to the studio or who have moved away completely. I didn't get to go to the reception. That's where all the fun usually is, so of course, I worked that night. My wife and kids did go and stayed fairly late, dancing away. Good thing they don't take after me in that respect. I'm an inveterate wall flower.

Too bad tomorrow's a moon day. I could have used the practice. I'll just have to use visualization.

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