Thursday, July 28, 2005

Addressing Your Comments on Warmups....

So, I took my kids to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tonight (if you haven't seen it, you have to go, if only just to see what they've done with the Indian actor, Deep Roy as all 165 of the Oompa Loompas) and came home to a bunch of really delightful comments regarding "warming up" before practicing. Since there were a few, I figured I would address them here in a new post. (Hi IVDP, btw...hadn't seen you around "here" in the past day or so....good to "see" you again!)

First, I want to say that I really enjoyed that someone pointed out that my "warmup" is something worth thinking about letting go of. After all, Ashtanga is NOT a performance. Right? Right? Right! It is a practice.

But the reality is, in my rather unenlightened Western hemisphere, Type-A mind, I can't help but think about what I look like to my teacher....and I would rather not have my teacher look at me and think, "Oh Geeeez...look at Lauren today....How am I going to get her into Marichi D if she can't even take Ardha Baddha Padmotannasana?" OK, I know that is just me projecting - I am sure that my teachers view me with a bit more equanimity and a bit less self-interest than that! Or I hope they do! I know I do, with regard to my students....

But feels good to "get" the poses and not have to struggle with them, and warming up definitely addresses that...Now, I do realize, as was pointed out, that Surya A and B were intended to warm up the body sufficiently to practice the rest of whatever it is you are practicing. However, where are the twists in Surya A and B? Where are the hip openers (Warrior I just doesnt' cut it...)? By the time I am done with my five-and-five, I am sweating like it's my job, but I still can't take Ardha Baddha Padmotannasana unless I spend about 10 breaths standing there in a pretty inadequate half-lotus before pulling my foot high enough to get a good bind. By the time I fold over, I've already been there for more than a minute....

And here is the rub: it never changes. It never has. Even when I practiced Bikram - and you do a variation on this pose in Bikram - every time I went to take the standing half lotus pose, it was like my hips had never heard of it before. OK, maybe I am exagerrating. It IS getting better. Very slowly. But it is really frustrating to me that day after day - six days a week except for moonday weeks - I end my practice in a really nice, parallel-thighs lotus, and yet the next morning I come to the mat feeling as if I had never taken lotus before in my entire life.

So, as one would expect, warming up does tend to make things smoother for me at the outset...and then I know if I have a "good" Ardha Baddha Padmotannasana, I will then have an even better Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimotannasana. And then all of my Marichis will be easier.

LOL...I know, I know...I hear is all very "attached to results". I get it. But how can we not be "attached to results" when the Ashtanga system requires that we "accomplish" certain things before moving on to the next thing? Oooo, ooooo, I am raising my hand...I know the answer, even as I ask the question. It is not "supposed" to matter what pose we are working on - wherever we practice, we are supposed to be practicing to our own personal edge. So maybe that edge is soemwhere in the Primary Series. Maybe that edge is in Fifth. But it isn't supposed to matter -by practicing, we get the benefits, if we are open to the benefits.

And yet it does matter, doesn't it....

OK, so all of that being said, I cannot begin to tell you how awesome my hips feel after I take Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Salamba Supta Baddha Konasana) with a strap around my waist and ankles and ablock under my spine and just hang out there watching TV.

And now, I am going to tempt all of you tight psoas/tight quads people with a really delicious R&D (research and development) pose to work on at home (certainly not at the shala!). It's basically a variation on "Tiptoe Fish", which I am sure doesn't even EXIST as far as Ashtanga is concerned, but it sure will do wonders for your Urdhva Dhanurasana:

You lie down with a block set down on the skinny side and running vertically down your spine. Then one at a time, you bend your knees, and then one at a time, you tuck your toes under. Then you slowly lower your knees to the floor and reach your arms up overhead in prayer to touch the floor behind you. Try to bring your thighs to touch. YUM. If I ever find a photo of this I will link to it.



CCC said...

Lauren? I think I wuv you! You're wonderfully playful and honest. Refreshing in the world of ashtanga. You are such the typical student it makes me smile. In fact we ALL are, but not all of us are willing to admit it. I'm glad you liked my suggestion of letting go of the warmups. (I don't always take the time to sign in as CCC.) Things I do when I'm able to take a class ... cheat in downdog when the teacher isn't looking (arms not fully extended so there's juice in them for some of the neat stuff!) ... ALWAYS watch EVERYONE thanks to peripheral vision ... show off my flexibility by going deep deep deep (and then paying with a knee injury). ETC.

About my flexibility, a combo of lean muscles (thanks, mom!) and hard work. I'll never forget my first year of yoga. Iyengar classes. Everyone better than me. Couldn't do most standing poses worth beans. Awful headstand.

About your standing ardha, are you familiar with Paul Grilley? He has a great DVD on yoga and anatomy that everyone on the board seems to really love. His big thing is that some people just can't do certain things, no matter how often they practice.

Okay, enough. You're such a joy! :o)

yoga chickie said...

Hey CCC, I definitely want to check out the Paul Grilley DVD, although I don't want to think about the fact that maybe there are some things I simply can't do...

Today I TOTALLY was watching a fellow student working on her Buja Pidasana. I really like this woman/girl...she is actually only 23 years old...a dancer and so so so bendy, but also long long limbs. So, although she has been practicing only for eight weeks ALTOGETHER, she is already up to Buja. But Buja is a challenge for her because of her long limbs - she doesn't seem to know how to balance herself when coming into the forward bending part of it - the crown of her head tucks, and she rolls over! I was watching because I am interested to see how she progresses in it - from a teaching perspective, I find this very fascinating. It just seems neat to see people working with their own anatomical gifts an challenges...Thanks for all the nice compliments! It's a joy to hear from you too! Lauren

CCC said...

I took some classes with Paul Grilley, and he was rather stern about some of the students there probably never being able to do certain things. That didn't go well with me, so I understand your reaction. Bhujapidasana was challenging for me, and then one day I got it. I have long legs, which I feel help me in what is now one of my favorite asanas. Bending forward is more of a strength problem for me. Because my legs are long, so is the rest of me! So that's not really a problem. :o)

yoga chickie said...

Which favorite asana are you referring to? Surely not Bhuja...long legs can't possibly be an asset in that pose...come on, CCC, long legs have to be a liability in course I wouldn't know, since as Guy says, I have "short legs". (I never really thought of them as short for my height, but whatevah...)

Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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