Sunday, May 13, 2007

Start Making Sense

If anybody 'gets' this yoga stuff, clue me in. My best 2nd series practice this week was the one I did on Wednesday. Prior to that try, I hadn't done second in months. I had really only been doing all of first for maybe three weeks. I did a combined practice that day, so I was relatively low on gas going into the second series poses. And yet, I did great, for me. I did fine in Pasasana, where before I was sometimes barely getting fingertips, I did an ok Kapotasana, I landed Bakasana B, I bound in Tittibhasana B and I lowered into Karandavasana with a measure of control. Life is good, no?

Today, after two good nights of rest, I went to led second series. Given the surprisingly capable outings I had had in the days preceding, I had no reason not to expect at least a middlin practice. Instead, it was my worst second series this week. I couldn't land bakasana B, but I don't have that back completely, so no panic buttons there. I did the Eka Pada Sirsasanas but the depth of the leg wasn't what it had been--bad omen for Dwi Pada. Sure enough, for the first time this week, I couldn't keep both legs up. Later, in Tittibhasana, no binding. That was the cruelest cut. I had thought I had lost enough weight that I didn't have to deal with that demon anymore. I couldn't get any more than one digit to interlock and was too sweaty to be able to pull that any further in to get a better bind. Landing Karanda is an increasingly fading memory. Today I stayed up in the pose just fine, but couldn't get any levity on my descent. Lots of knee to arm impacts, leading to some especially nice bruises on my left arm and elbow. That's always good. If I can't do it, I can at least have some wounds to show for it. The rest of it was nothing great, nothing bad. There must be a cosmic expectation meter out there that ensures inverse outcomes commensurate with how people think they will do in yoga. That's what I get for breaking my rule about not doing second again until I can get my first series poses back. Tomorrow, back to first.

Unless I have to take Jake to the doctor. He's cultivating a chest cold. Hurts too much to cough deeply enough to clear his throat. Having some trouble breathing. Of course, there's no way he could manage to go to school tomorrow. Too sick. No problem with doing two different lacrosse practices today, in addition to Pop Warner football tryouts.

I heard that Jason and Tara, a wonderful couple who practice in our studio, are not just going to Portland for six months soon, they are moving there for good. I also heard, less officially, that another couple, again both highly skilled ashtangis, may be moving away too. That's a huge power vacuum. Those four have amazing practices, smooth, powerful, very light. All of them inspire. Things do change.

I started classes at Tim's in June, 2000. My wife and I had a talk the other day about how many, or how few, people are still practicing regularly at Tim's that were there back when we started. Many of the old timers, the studio 'seniors', have developed a degree of facility in their accrued time with Tim. Most of the others I can think of have moved to the top of the skills heap, many of them doing third or being quite capable second series people. In the same time frame, I have managed to achieve a remarkable degree of stasis. I think I got my first second series pose after I had been going to the studio for a couple of years, something like the Fall of 2002. I slowly picked up poses over the following months and years, getting my last pose, Nakrasana, almost two years ago. And I do it well. I think anyway. I just can't do the harder preceding poses all of the time, and have never come close to doing Karandavasana. Probably just as deciding, I don't have the life that is conducive to progression. I think sometimes I am perceived as not wanting to do the work. There is probably an element of that in me, but my perspective is that I am slow because I don't have the opportunity to do the work. When I am there, I do work at it.

I think one of the attractions of Ashtanga for many of us is the open endedness of the asana challenges. No matter what you manage to achieve, there's always the next pose and the next series of poses. I think that has passed me by. I'm reaching, or have reached my asymptote, the point of no improvement, no progression. Then what? I know the inevitable age related regression in ability is ahead of me. But, barring injury, I think that is still a few years away. I'm doing some of my postures as well as I've ever done them, even the some of the more challenging ones. Answering what's next will be something of a mind shift. Can't look at it anymore as what's next posture-wise. If a wall is permanently hit, what do you do next? Pranayama? Meditate? Just do what I do now until I can't anymore and then do what I can then? Wait for the next go round? Well, I guess I could start doing some ab work.

Hope everyone had a nice Mothers' Day. I didn't do much more than get some flowers for my wife. But they were some really nice peonies. You almost never see peonies in florist shops here, so I jumped on them. She bought the gift she wanted a week or so ago. There's a general consensus in my house that's it's better if I'm not involved in the shopping. Going out to eat? No one likes to do that anymore. She spent the day with my youngest at a movie, while my oldest sat at home nursing a headache and watching TV and while I sat watching Jake chase a bunch of balls and whack his buddies with a stick all afternoon. Sick lad that he is. Probably not her most rewarding mother's day ever. We all do love her, so maybe that helps. Sometimes not having to be doing stuff is enough of a gift. That's usually all I ever want for Father's day but I'm probably in the minority in that respect.

At work once again tonight. That's why I get to have a chance, just a chance mind you, to practice tomorrow. I've got a feeling it's not going to happen though. The yoga gods don't normally allow me six in a row. I'll probably be doing pediatric clinic pranayama with the jakester. Have to get it done in the morning, if possible. Wouldn't want him to miss afternoon lacrosse practice. Cough.


Boodiba said...

Ooh it looks like there's a super highway to Portland!!

What happened to your practice to go back to primary? Did you have an injury? Haven't read that far back yet.

okrgr said...


tweaked my shoulder playing with the kids on a rope swing at a hotel pool last summer

then, blew a hammie doing hanumanasana.

then reblew the same hammie a few months later doing trikonasana

the slow healing led to terminal sloth.

i started back with more regularity a couple of weeks before we came to nyc. I didn't want to practice anywhere there if i was going to look all lame.

it's better now. injuries gone. mentally stronger.

little victories

okrgr said...

yeah, not the easiest blog to run thru. it's a bit on the dense side. it's just how i write i guess

Tiffany said...

The title of your post below made me think of something very inappropriate - but I can't help but think that was your intention.

I can't for the life of me land bakasana b at second on sunday. I'm not sure if my shoulders are too stiff still or what. I don't have a problem doing it during the week, after I've done my lousy first. Maybe, it's the pressure of having to land it at that specific moment in class...or maybe I just suck really bad.

okrgr said...

all the world is an entendre

Boodiba said...

I'm spreading the word about Jason & Tara. Do you know what they're going to do in Portland after their 6 month sub gig?

okrgr said...

heal probably.

no, other than asking tara if they were really moving for good, i haven't talked to either of them for any length since last fall. we travel in different circles.

laproxdoc said...

Why my (or anyone else's) practice is open, strong, comfortable one day and totally lame, cranky, and painful the next or vice versa is a mystery none of the great techers I've asked seems to be able to answer. Tim, Prem Carlisi, and David Swenson for example just grunted and moved on. Doug Swenson told me to eat organic grapes with seeds - hard to find in Encinitas. Casey suggested more pranayama and studying the sutras in Sanskrit. But Tim always points out to me everytime he adjusts me that there are further subtler nuances and levels in poses that I already have been given. At this point in my practice I will probably not only not be given any new poses (and may even have to start giving some back) but the future of my practice is finding further depth, sbtlety, and nuance in those that I have. This ashtanga practice is fully three dimensional! There's always more to find at every breath.

Anonymous said...

Portland WOOO HOOO.
Sorry, it's pretty cool here though!
I am excited to have them at the shala:)

okrgr said...

yeah mike, having to sort of go back and start over, i can appreciate that. there were a lot of poses that I did but just did good enough and didn't really try to do better, such as the marichy's.

going back and having to relearn some of them, I can see that while I didn't realize it before, I had, have and probably always will have, a long ways to go.

Anonymous said...

Your practice is awesome (as I found out during your recent trip to NY). I'm sure more poses are coming down the pipeline. It's premature to think you've reached the point of no improvement.

okrgr said...

i keep telling myself that, but it becomes harder and hader to believe as time goes by

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