Sunday, May 06, 2007

Do Over

Second attempt at this. First time out, I was rolling out a bunch of thick paragraphs whining about weighing too much, not being interesting enough, blah, blah blah. I quit before I even finished it. I had no interest in it even as I was writing it. Self-flagellation is the most boring form of expression there is.

I did get to practice eventually this week, i made it to a couple of improv classes. One was Tim's Thursday Improv, and then also Alison's Saturday class. Alison's class has always been an evolutionary thing. At one point, she pretty closely followed Tim's model of allowing the student's some input on what poses to try or what areas of the body to focus on. Despite a long career in practicing and teaching Ashtanga, she has also kept her self exposed to other influences and approaches. Her approach to the Saturday class always seems to change a little when she has come back from a new workshop or a visit to another teacher. I haven't been to one of her classes in a while. When I had last been going, she had been attending a number of advanced anusara workshops. She had been adding in some of the Anusara stuff to her own class but without any of the flowery oral diarrhea that some of the Anusara teachers use. The class yesterday was a fairly simple one. No audience suggestions, just her leading us thru stuff. We did a fair amount stretching of the hip flexors, but not with the same old interminable lunges. We used to do so many lunges in her class that I got to where I couldn't stand to hear her, or anyone say, "Now step your right leg forward between your hands..." She finds ways in her class to stretch things that don't usually get stretched in ashtanga, but that when they are done, do help quite a bit when doing the ashtanga poses.

For some reason yesterday, she had us do sayanasana. This is one of my favorite "can't do it yet" poses. It's a pose that feels oh so close to being do-able but yet remains out of reach, in part because I get to try it once or twice a year. I have figured out a few things about the pose. It's an inverted balancing pose that originates in Pincha Mayurasana. Once stable in Pincha, you then lift your hands and arms from the floor and place your hands on your chin, balancing on your elbows alone. The difficulty in balancing is that it is hard to figure out the counterbalancing move. What occurs is not that intuitive, at least to me. The tendency as one lifts one's hands and arms is for the center of gravity to shift such that the legs and hips drift back towards the direction you are facing and you start to fall back down to the floor. To actually get the hands up to the chin, you have to extend your feet out more behind you to counter that weight shift. When you're trying to do the pose, however, you think that the exact opposite is going to happen. Since you are going up onto those pointy little elbows, the belief is that you are almost certainly going to tumble over onto your back. So people (well, me anyway, but looking around the room, I'm hardly alone) tend to tilt the wrong way as they lift the hands. Once gravity starts to happen, it's all over, the feet go right back down to where they started. Very frustrating. I did get my chin for a second or two once yesterday but it was really just a delayed fall. Tim suggests that you let your knees bend before trying to bring the hands up. Leads to the same kind of counterbalancing effect. But then you have to unbend your knees once you get your hands up. I've seen some really good yogis not be able to do this posture, or at least do it very poorly. I know of two people who have completed all of fourth that really only get the hands up when they do this pose. The forearms are almost flat on the floor. I love poses that I sense I might be able to do better than people who are better than I am. I want to get this pose. And yes, the elbows don't feel real good when you're in it.

In Tim's class on Thursday, one of the requests was for Viparita Dandasana. Since there weren't a whole lot of other requests, Tim decided to let this one ride for a while. We ended up doing about five or six variations of it. Between all of that and then all the stuff on the forearms and elbows on Saturday, the skin on my elbows was getting rubbed raw by the rug I put over my mat. By the end on Saturday, I could barely feel my elbows though, they were numb.

Musings from my earlier aborted post: if losing ten pounds has allowed me to do this much better in my practice this past couple of weeks, imagine if I could get back to what I weighed when I started residency, or better, when I started college. I don't think I want to get back down to what I was when I got out of high school. I weighed 125 when I took my physical to go into the army after HS. I was always that skinny, scrawny kid. The monkey boy who could climb up into the gym rafters to get the balls that got stuck up there. No mas.

I've got to call in and check on how the boy is doing with his lacrosse games. He won his first game today, the one where he's the goalie. He took a shot to his thumb that may be serious though. He's now playing in a playoff game for his other team. On this team, he's one of the attackmen, the guys who get the most chances to score. It's the semifinal playoff game. They beat this team by one in two overtimes last week, so no telling how it's going to go.


AlanL said...

Sayanasana? Oh man that looks so hard I hadn't even considered attempting it. Not just now - ever. I saw [very well known top hard core ashtangi who doesn't like being named in public] really struggling with it in Mysore whilst working on fourth series.

So, what's with suddenly starting blogging again without warning after months of downtime without any kind of notification to the world? Who would do a thing like that?

okrgr said...

whoa, blast from the past.

let he who is without sin write the first entry. there's a gap or two in your archives as well. my stoppage is easier to understand. I have don't have the breadth of interesting things going on that you do. as for my restart, i'd thought i'd see how the viral aspect of the web works.

you're up late, no? it's a pleasure to hear from you. i've been a bit out of the loop for much of this year, both practice-wise and interaction-wise, but am creeping back in. how is your family doing? are you going back to india anytime?

sayanasana is a true teaser pose. if you can do pincha mayurasana, it's hard to see how you couldn't do sayanasana, until you realize that you can't do it, over and over again. but, one grain of sand at a time. one of the interesting things about the fourth series is how many approachable poses there are in it. they nicely counterbalance the many impossible ones i guess

some day, if you see fit, i'd love to get a poster sized version of your guruji in sunglasses, post catarrhact surgery. coolest looking dude i've ever seen

keep in touch


jenna said...

The strangest thing... I dreamed about sayanasana last night. And I was in San Diego for the TT... and Tim's wife was preparing a clam-bake for everyone... ???

Yoga dreams are the best. Especially considering that I woke up, went back to sleep, and then had a horrible nightmare which i just awoke from. Shudder.

AlanL said...

You're not the first person who's asked about that pic of Guruji. Sadly it's not really printable even at 6"x4", let alone big. It was a fast grab shot from the stairs in the old shala as he poked his head round the door, with a manual focus camera, and it's not quite in focus. Just about works on the web, but that's all.

okrgr said...

too bad about the shot. it's a one in a million. maybe you could have an illustrator use the image to create a poster or something.

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Viagra Online said...

what do you mean with "improv classes"? I think you are one of the best doing those poses and you mustn't try the same opposite point again.

Elliott Broidy said...

Looks so intense. keep up the good work.

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