Monday, August 29, 2011


Despite my plans to take Hatha and Iyengar classes this weekend that didn't happen. I missed the Hatha class because I was busy preparing for hurricane Irene which came and went without much of a to do in my neighborhood. Then on Saturday the Iyenar class was cancelled on Saturday due to the impending storm.

Last Wednesday after practice I noticed some soreness in my rib cage area slightly lower than my original intercostal injury. I took two advil before class on Thurdsay and it didn't bother me very much. When I realized that the pain was only on one side and was very similar to the pain and sensation of my original injury I decided to take off on Friday and not go to the led class and I wasn't too bummed out not being able to practice over the weekend. However, it's been four days off from practice and I still have some soreness in that area. I'm being extra cautious this time around because I don't want to be sidelined from practice for another six weeks. I truly believe that I only exacerbated things by insisting on practicing even though I was in so much pain.

So my plan is to practice tomorrow but to only do everything before the marichyasanas and then go directly to closing. Drop backs may be off the menu as well.

The most frustrating thing about this situation is not knowing what I did to cause the pain. My two suspicions are that I'm either twisting too deeply in the marichyasanas and assisted pashasana or it's something about the way I drop backs and stand up that doesn't agree with me. JB is out until Friday and hopefully I'm feeling better by then but if not it may warrant a conversation.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

UPDATED: Kino's Practice Unedited

I really love these unedited videos showing Kino's practice. I find them quite refreshing compared to how we usually see her.

*Updated to include back bending video

As for me, practice was ok this morning. I woke up, got on the mat and did my practice. I'll be doing a little yoga tourism this weekend taking a Hatha class tomorrow evening and an Iyengar class on Saturday. No, Ashtanga, I didn't quit you I just think we should start seeing other people, at least temporarily. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vinyasa-less Practice = Increased Flexibility?

I didn't sleep well last night so when the alarm went off this morning I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through practice. In an effort to help things along I purchased an espresso at my local Starbucks before heading to the shala. The caffeine hadn't kicked in by the time I got to my mat causing me to almost forget to chant the invocation. As my left hand/wrist has been tweaked most of the week I’ve cut out a bunch of the vinyasas  since Monday on the recommendation of JB.

Part way through seated I got this sensation as though I wasn't practicing in my normal body. I’m not sure if there is any correlation between my cutting back on vinyasas and my extra flexibility but I felt like elastic girl today. Forward bends were deep and effortless even from the first surya namaskars. I was touching my torso to my highs which doesn’t usually happen until after ardha baddha padmottanasana and it kept rolling from there. Wrist grab in paschimottanasana c, knee to floor in both ardha baddha paschimottanasana and janushirasana c. And the piece de resistance was an actual head touch on both sides of krounchasana with nary a hint of nausea to be found. I’ve seen minimal progress in that pose since I started practicing it and all of a sudden everything seems possible. Oh and there were several titibasana attempts at coming out of supta kurmasana.  On the first attempt I insisted to E one of the assistants that I just couldn’t do it. She told me that I had the strength and flexibility to pull it off and she asked if it hurt in my hamstrings. When I thought about it I realized that there was no physical pain or discomfort stopping me from doing the pose at all so I attempted unsuccessfully a second time.  For good measure I gave it a go one last time and I came much closer than ever to fully extending my legs over my shoulders. Once I was done I tried to simultaneously bring both feet back to bakasana position and I almost face planted but it was fun.

After all that fun I was curious to see what was in store in terms of back bending. After some press ups from the floor and a few attempts using the wall I got out my pile of four blankets. To my surprise I dropped back and came back up three times. I figured what heck and removed one of the blankets and once again I was able to drop back and come up again. Then I did it again and dropped back to two blankets and was able to stand back up. Being one to push my luck I removed the 2nd blanket and attempted to drop back to just one and I didn’t get very far but I was ok with that because I’ve accelerated my 4 week plan by two weeks. And can I just say that standing up from back bends feels like magic? Oh and I don’t think JB witnessed any of it. Or maybe he witnessed all of it but didn’t want to say anything for fear of messing up my rhythm.

Practice can’t continue to be this good and I fully expect to get hit by the ashtanga truck any day now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

4 Blankets, 3 Drop backs, 2 Successful Attempts at Standing

Practice was really nice today. I got to the shala extra early because I had to be on an 8AM conference call for work. The shala started off pretty quiet but it eventually got pretty busy. JB arrived right around the time that I was practicing navasana and it wasn't long before I got the juiciest adjustment in supta kurmasa. JB's adjustment really works my legs slightly up and over my head while most of the other assistants just cross my feet in front of my head. I know the that the leg behind the head poses are in my future (distant albeit) and I'm for anything I can do to ease that transition. I wasn't able to do a bakasana exit out of supta kurmasa because the right side of my left hand is all tweaky. I spoke to JB about it and he said that I'm probably rolling my hands out to the sides during my vinyasas and that I should take it easy with the jump backs this week and to pay more attention to my hand positioning during the vinyasas. And so after the discussion with him I entered each vinyasa with a bit more mindfulness and was able to eliminate most of the pain and discomfort.

I was able to bind the first side of pashasana one my own again and struggled on the second side. JB saw my struggle and told me that he'd come over to help. Of course he made me do it again on the first side but that was ok because his pashasana assists are so effortless. It's no struggle for me, no struggle for him and I'm pretty sure he does it with only one hand and with his eyes closed.

My back bending project continues and my press ups from the floor felt deep and effortless. I then did three attempts at the wall which were pretty nice as well but I was careful not to drop back fully and put too much weight on my hands. Next came out the blankets (I'm still using a stack of four). I dropped back to the blankets three times in a row without a huge pause in between. My first attempt at standing back up was an ungraceful failure of an attempt while my second attempt did in fact bring me an upright position but there was nothing graceful about that one either. My final attempt was marginally more graceful and controlled and I was utterly surprised to find myself standing at the front of my mat. A shalamate practicing besides me exclaimed "you stood up". I said something about the pile of blankets below me making the whole effort easier. Did I mention that I don't think JB witnessed any of it? Seems to be par for the course.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Practice Report Recap

In terms of my practice August has been an interesting month. My favorite assistant left at the beginning of the month and my practice really hasn't been the same since. I've had a few teary breakdowns during savasana and after practice but I think that is mostly behind me now. I had a really nice chat with one of my shalamates after practice and as always she had some wise words to share with me.

My practice has entered a new phase where I'm no longer an ashtanga beginner but I'm definitely far from an advanced practitioner and the level of attention that I once received when I first started isn't there anymore.  I rarely get any assistance during UHP anymore and while I can pretty much approximate the pose on my own these days most days I long for assistance at that point. I guess the point of mysore style yoga is to be able to develop a self practice and I'm on my way to achieving that.

In other practice related news I've been flirting with binding pashasana on one side. It's not a regular daily occurring but it's been happening more frequently. One of the first days that it happened JB was standing on my mat behind me and about to give me some help when he saw that I bound on my own and he didn't step in to help me go deeper into the pose. One thing that has helped my pashasana but has had virtually no effect on my supta kurmasana is getting deep wrist binds in all of the marichyasanas on both side. After all of my struggles trying to bing marichyasana d I never would have thought that I would manage anything more than a finger bind in that pose. Bhekasana continues to be my FML pose as grabbing my feet and holding on for five breathes while lifting up through the chest just doesn't resonate with my body. Today I tried the pose with a towel over each foot and I was slightly more successful in maintaining contact with me feet. And then that brings me to parsva dhanurasana which is slowly getting better but is not graceful at all, it's kind of the garba pindasana of second series. I don't miss the days of feeling like a beached whale after failing victim to that pose. As if parsvo dhanurasana wasn't bad enough on it's own, one is required to come back up into dhanurasana and hold that variation for five breaths as a kind shalamate pointed out to me last Thursday. All I can say is that my legs feel like jell-o by that point

And finally there are the drop backs which have disappeared from my practice as mysteriously as they have arrived. Actually, there is no mystery to explain their disappearance they disappeared because I hold the record for the highest number of times a yogi/ini can fall on his/her head while practicing. And that's not a record that I'm proud of and my ego isn't cool with it either. So as of yesterday I started using a pile of blankets again. I started with six and worked my way down to four. Today I started with four and drop back successfully several times to that height. My new plan is to remove one blanket a week as long as I can successfully drop back to the blanket height. So if all goes according to plan I'll be dropping back on my own sans blankets in four weeks. And if it takes longer I'll be OK with that too. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Twisting, Binding and Assisting

Today I managed to bind on the first side in pashasana. This was a big and unexpected breakthrough today. It's even more surprising because I didn't think that I would actually make it through practice because of my monkey mind. The first half of practice was a slow and laborious struggle but by the time I got to the marichyasanas I was getting help to bind and twist deeper in each pose. I've been really focused on wrist binding the past couple of weeks but today's assists took it to a whole new level. Usually when I practice pashasana an assist comes immediately. If I happen to not get an assist I try to work the pose as best I can and and sometimes my fingers would touch slightly before tumbling over. I'm not going to get too attached to today's breakthrough because I know that everything can change tomorrow. Drop backs anyone?

My practice now goes up to dhanurasana and the combination of that pose with the shalambasanas has my lower back really feeling it. Bhekasana is still not a pose that I'm proficient at but I got some nice tips today from one of the assistants such as spending as much time as I possibly can in virasana. I'll try it out for a week and see if I notice any real difference.

One other fun thing to mention is that I'm going to be apprenticing with JB a couple of hours a week to learn how to assist. For the time being I'm pretty much useless but I'm taking it all in and hope to prove myself worthy of the honor in a short period of time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad