Thursday, May 04, 2006

The illusion of progress

Today, I got to practice quite early for me: 9:05 a.m. The problem is that the earlier I get to practice, the less I have had a chance to move around and loosen up. The bright side is that with my more mindful dietary habits - particularly, the habit of consuming more foods that came directly from a tree or a bush (yesterday, I even included an avocado, inspired by Sir's having said that it is one of his favorite "fruits") - it is easier for me to loosen myself up. The joints crack like popcorn, rather than like caked-in sludge. After a few deep squats and hanging over my legs in Uttanasana for a bit, I was ready. Within two Surya Namaskaras, I was already getting my nose to my shins.

I have noticed that as time goes by, certain poses become dependable for me, rather than dependant upon how stiff or how flexy I am on a given day. One such pose is Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. But really, it's true, at least to some degree, of almost every pose up until Marichyasana D. That one still is kind of a crapshoot. There are just so many stars that must align for that one to happen without the drama. The twist has to be full-on. The shoulders have to be open. The outer hip of the lotus leg has to be soft. The hip flexors of the bent-knee leg have to be compliant and willing to crunch up deeply, permitting the bent-knee to cross the midline. And the hands cannot be slippery. At least not for me. Not yet. I look forward to the day when it no longer matters how wet my hands are, how slippery my mat is, how thick my yoga pants are.

I was a bit dismayed when Sir walked out of the room promptly at 10:15, which was EXACTLY when I was jumping into Kurmasana. Sure, 10:15 is the end of teacher-in-the-room-time. But I was disappointed that he didn't stay for one last adjustment, especially since I had been working so hard to practice slowly and mindfully today. T has been an inspiration for me in that respect. Her practice is very slow and lovely, and as I was self-practicing yesterday, it occurred to me that I could use a bit of that at the moment.

"At the moment" is, of course, the key phrase. It always changes. Sometimes what I need is to go quickly. Sometimes what I need is to focus on the vinyasas. Sometimes what I need is to ignore the vinyasas, at least in my mind - just do them, not think about them at all.

As for Supta K, since I had the time, as well as the inclination, I decided to explore a bit. I got into Kurmasana but didn't like the angle of my legs. So I got into it again. This time, my legs were at a sharper angle to one another, closer to running directly over my shoulders. In this fashion, I was able to press my chest to the floor, although it really doesn't feel very nice.

Then I got out of Kurmasana and practiced a bit of Compass Pose - and I felt like my left leg is thiiiis close to being pliable enough to get the ankle behind my head sometime in the next year or so. The right leg is a bit less compliant. Maybe a bit more than a year. Then I got into Kurmasana one more time solely for the purpose of getting into Supta K. I had my strap ready where my hands would find it. I pulled my ankles easily together and felt my head touch the floor (actually - I felt my head touch something, and as usual, I wasn't sure what it took me a moment to realize that it was the floor...yay). The arms were, unfortunately, still stuck. But it felt like I had tied myself up into the requisite bundle. And it was fine.

I do believe there is progress. I also believe that I understand what I need to do in order for it to ever happen: get those ankles behind my head. Am I repeating myself? I may have said it before, but I really see it as the only way it's going to happen for me. Every body is different, and every body will have its own issues in a complicated posture like Supta K. In my case, when my legs are pressing into the backs of my arms but are not directly over my shoulders, I can't free my arms enough to comfortably bind. If I could get my legs to really be BEHIND my shoulders, then my arms would be freed up.

Backbends were good today. I think there is some progress there in getting my hands more directly under my shoulders. And ah...Pindasana....I almost grabbed my wrist!

Later on, I got my first "Fifth Avenue facial" - microdermabrasion plus some kind of acid peell - I don't even know what it was exactly, but I think it was the TCA one, and in any event, it felt like I was doing something that might make me look a few days younger, or something like that. And hell, it was a special promotion - a "Spa Week" holdover. But what a wacky place it was. Just to give you a taste of I was waiting for my appointment in the reception area, a woman walked in, mid fifties, well-dressed. She was accompanied by her "tennis pro", a 20-something hottie in a track suit, who sat there listening to his iPod as his "client" flipped through a magazine, waiting for her Botox appointment. I kid you not.


samasthiti said...

You should try out the stiffness at 5:30 AM.
Not pretty.

kanjalid said...

I second that!

yoga chickie said...

yes, yes, I know. I live the life, getting to practice at 9 and all.'s all relative...

S - just think of this though: if you can kind of sort of do Mari C at 5:30 am, think of how AWESOME it will be at 5:30 p.m.!

Yogamum said...

Yup, the body is bendy in the evenings, but the mind (my mind, at least) is full of the detritus of the day...

Sergio said...

What time do you get up? Do you eat anything before practice? What about dinner the previous night?

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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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