Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hello, Sir? Are you reading this? Can we please just forget about Supta K for the time being and move on to the next pose?

I felt my fingers graze in Supta K, although there was no possibility of hooking them together. Still, as Christopher H once told me, once you can touch your fingers, a bind can't be that far behind. I'll take that. I hate to say it, but I am beginning to feel a bit antsy with my whistle-stop at Supta K. I long to roll (and by roll, I mean literally, rolling around on my back in Garba Pindasana, rolling back and forth in Supta Konasana, Upavishta Konasana, Ubaya Padangusthasana, etc., rolling backward in chakrasana, etc.) through the remainder of Primary. I know that I am nowhere near Second Series - not even in the same time zone. Probably not even on the same planet. Perhaps not even in the same solar system. But to practice all of Primary....ahhhhhh....that is what I came to the practice for in the first place. For a long time, I had all but forgotten that, conveniently, or rather, as a matter of survival. But now the remainder of Primary is just a knuckles' length away. And I want it. I want to get all of the benefits of the Chikitsa (for non-yogi's: Yoga Chikitsa is another name for the Primary Series, and it means "Yoga Therapy").

OK, so I admitted it. Lots of confessions in the past 24 hours. Callous shaving, and a callous disregard for non-attachment to progress.

Moving along, on other fronts:

Today, I overheard Sir telling a student who has no trouble at all getting into Supta Kurmasana to straighten his legs and aim them over his shoulders in Kurmasana and to take his forehead off the floor and work towards getting his chest and chin to the floor. I found this fascinating because I, who cannot bind my hands in Supta Kurmasana, have no trouble at all getting my legs perfectly straight and aimed right over my shoulders in Kurmasana and pressing my chest flat on the floor, chin stretching forward. I have heard it said that Kurmasana is a gateway to Supta K. But how can that be? This isn't the first time I've noticed that a super-flat-out Kurmasana is not necessarily the key to a good bind in Supta K. Not long ago, I even asked Sir if perhaps my efforts in Kurmasana are actually counter-productive to making Supta K happen. He essentially scoffed at this notion. I trust him, so I will try to banish these thoughts from my mind and just practice, practice, practice. Or, alternatively, just practice, practice, practice.

And on the topic of practice, or rather, back to the topic of practice, I must say that NOT doing the little scootch-the-shoulders-behind-the-knees-dance/dawdle/embellishment before lifting up int Bujapidasana has greatly improved my Bujapidasana. I just jump my feet around the outside of my arms to land slightly between my hands in front of my feet and then lift. Boom. Bujapidasana. I'm starting to think that although Buja is a nice little gateway to Kurmasana and Supta K, essentially, it is more about lifting the bandhas than about getting the legs in front of the shoulders.

And said bandhas could use some work, at least as far as the between-Navasana lifts go. The trouble is that my butt is just too darn heavy, relative to my bandha strength. I wish there were a way that I could practice those Lolasanas using someone else's butt - someone with a teeny tiny butt (Linda? Can I borrow yours please?). I am not saying that my butt is huge, but it definitely is a fairly heavy weight for me to maneuver gracefully without having already built the bandha strength using a lighter weight, akin to trying to run a marathon before ever having run a 10k, or trying to bench press 200, before ever trying to bench press 150.

And so, the bathtub once again becomes my playground for R&D. I sit in the tub, half-full, displacing some of my weight, and lift to my heart's content. If only I could bring my tub to practice. You know, along with my Bounty?

Finally, I have big, big news!! Yoga is a workout! OK, maybe it's not really news. But I think it deserves repeating. Today I had the pleasure of teaching vinyasa yoga to a group of 15 or so personal trainers, all of whom have beautiful, sculpted, fabulously athletic bodies and all of whom have built up a high level of fitness, including both cardiovascular fitness and sheer strength. Most were even quite flexible. But I'm happy to report, their asses were grass after class.

It's not like I intentionally set out to beat them into submission. It's just that they told me they wanted a really hard workout. So, basically, I gave them a 60-minute version of the 45 minute all-levels class I had taught a half hour before that at Yoga Sutra - sun salutations followed by a couple of asana sequences, followed by some backbending and forward bends. What made it harder for the personal trainers than for the Yoga Sutra lunchtime vinyasa regulars? I believe that notwithstanding their high level of fitness and grace, they were lacking the bandha strength that makes it possible to hold postures with ease.

Let's see...what else?

I am getting that ammonia-smelling sweat thing going on again - like I did last summer. I wonder if this means I am burning fat? That would be cool.

Finally, I am seriously thinking about going on this Ashtanga Yoga Shala Summer Camp weekend at the end of July. This is the retreat I have been waiting for: Asthanga PLUS ayurvedic cooking lessons. But here's the thing: If I go, I will have to sleep in a tent. A tent! Me!! I don't own a tent, but I know I could buy one, even rent one, I suppose. I don't own a sleeping bag, but I know I can buy one of those too and then pass it onto Brian for his sleepaway camp weekend later this summer. Most people who know me would say that they cannot see me sleeping in a tent. Or using an outhouse (I am not sure if they are wrong about the latter point). But that shouldn't be the limiting factor, now should it? That is utterly preposterous. Isn't it? What's that they always say on my beloved Lost....Don't tell me what I can't do...?

Alright, that's it, I think I am finally out of steam.....



neti said...

The best tip I can give on Supta K, is this: Lay in bed or on the floor and do Yoga nidrasana( from second series). USing the floor to support the lowerback it can be easier to get the legs remotly behind the head. Then work on clasping the fingers behind your back. Its like doing supta K upside down, but you have the floor to help you press the torso between the legs. work on opening the chest and lengthening the spine. I find this to be more relaxing than Spta K and you don't have your face on the floor the whole time. Hope it helps

yoga chickie said...

I am actually working on approximation of that - still can't keep the legs behind the head though! I find that attempting the bind standing works pretty well though, as long as I have a wall nearby to make sure I don't go crashing to the floor!

Vanessa said...

A flat kurmasana can help for the Supta K bend because if your legs are deeply up your shoulders, there is less distance to cover. But in your case, I suspect shoulder flexibility and open chest might be the issues. Can your teacher get your hands down to the floor with the palms out in Prasarita C?

Richard said...

I think it was Fran Lebowitz (sp?) who said that her definition of the great outdoors was the distance from the lobby door to the cab. Or something like that. C'mon, you can do it!!

Debpc said...

An interesting point about non-attachment to progress. I have a friend who practices ashtanga in Miami and just moved to second series. She professes that her almost two years of (now) 6x/week ashtanga yoga has freed her of her insane drive for success-- she was my college roommate, and I know how much she has been driven by grades and other signs of outward achievement. BUT, and this is a big but (mine, totally, not hers): She is really naturally flexible and, while I am not minimizing her commitment to her practice, which I have seen live and is impressive, the plain truth is that it is easier for her to get the binds and other various postures that those of us not born quite so gumby-like have to fight our bodies a lot harder for. Similarly, she has long limbs, which can't hurt either. Again, not to take away from what she can do. I think her sense of personal non-attachment to achievement is because her "shala life" is so removed from her "real life" and many (most) of the people with whom she interacts don't know about her practice, only that she "does yoga", not the extent and intensity of what she does. So it feels like a secret achivement, and enables her to be more relaxed about other things in her life, which is great. But she knows perfectly well that some people spend their whole lives in Primary and here she is in second already. So I questioned whether she would have been so satisfied if she weren't progressing like that and, to her credit, she said she didn't know. So I think that, while we try to do asanas and live yoga, we are still bound by the value our culture places on achievement and progress. And I don't think that's bad, it just is.
PS_ Nice curls, Lauren.

Wayne said...

The mental picture of you dragging your bathtub along with several rolls of Bounty into practice is just too funny! Maybe you could bring one of those small inflatable swimming pools instead of the tub - more portable. Wonderful blog!

Anonymous said...

Remember those notes to excuse you from gym class? I asked Sir if i bring in a note from Guruji saying that I'm exempt from Supta K, can we just move the hell on already? He said yes...

Sara said...

Here's a weird one for you -- I can't do the full kurmasana with the legs completely straight and chin on the floor. But I can do supta kurmasana. How weird is that? Something about kurmasana hurts my butt. If your fingers are touching, you'll get it soon, very soon...
Anyway, I love bad lady note, hope he excuse you.

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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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