Monday, July 31, 2006

I practiced yoga today

Really practiced yoga - in the sense that I was feeling stiff and tired from my silly long practice yesterday, and my legs felt roughly the same as they did after running a marathon: quads so tight I could barely walk down the stairs. Luckily, the only stairs I have to walk down are the ones from the street to Shala X.

Thus, I got to really work on some yoga practices:

  • discipline - making myself practice because it is the right thing to do, even though I soooo did not want to. That is when (some say) the real yoga begins: when you get to the mat despite all of the resistance you feel. We often feel resistance to our practice (counterintuitive, eh? I mean when did we ever leave practice and not feel amazing, and yet still the next day, the resistance burbles up again), and the theory is that we should welcome it as a challenge to overcome.
  • dispassion (i.e., equanimity) - getting through my practice without too much disappointment over how long it took me to get through the standing poses, without too much elation over being able to bind in spite of my stiffness (not in Supta K of course).
  • ahimsa - getting through my entire practice without taking too much of a mental beating from my mind (which sometimes forgets that talking trash about the body that sustains it is only going to alienate and intimidate the body and further xaggerate the identification that the mind already makes with itself and with the physical body, when in fact the mind should be quieted of such antics to make way for the everpresent but quiet and unassuming true self to bubble forth.
  • satya - being honest with myself about my limitations today, not racing to get through practice quickly when that isn't what my body was capable of doing, not pushing myself to touch hands down in Prasarita Padotannasana C, when I got much more mileage out of stretching them outward from my back, a few inches above the floor.
  • asteya - not seeking out adjustments on poses I don't really need adjustments on - like Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana. I can do it just fine by myself. To stand there waiting for Mark to come over to hold my leg up, which I don't even need, would be stealing from the other 30-some-odd people in the room, including him.
There were probably quite a few others. But they elude me at the moment. And I wanted to get a chance to say: I DROPPED BACK AGAIN!! FOUR TIMES!

Ego, ego, ego...what will we do with you, ego, my friend. I am not my backbends. Repeat, I am not my bacbends.

But it is FUN FUN FUN to drop back. It is awesomely fun to feel strong enough to rely on your hands to support you after you let gravity take hold for a brief moment. It is amazingly empowering to realize that you are strong enough and supple enough to do this and that the only thing holding you back was fear (and a little leg work which can be accomplished in some real and honest to goodness Warrior poses....if you want to strengthen your legs enough to drop back safely, then no more phoning in the more 1-900-Virabadra, $.06 per quickie breath).

There was a moment there when I thought I was not brave enough to attempt it at the shala. I really didn't want anyone to see. I am not sure how criminal it is to do my own dropping back without having been "taught". But it's not like I am skipping any poses here. I am just getting into my Urdvha Dhanurasana from standing, instead of from lying on my back.

So first, I did three super-long Urdvha D's. Mark came to help me lift my chest higher. Then after those three, I did three more. Then I stood up, looking perhaps a bit sheepish, put my hands in prayer at my heart center, looked up, lifted my chest and when I could lift no more, reached my arms overhead and gently found the floor.

Then I "stood up" onto my knees, a la Ustrasana. I guess the standing up from backbends will come a bit later. Then I did it three more times. Then I brought my mat to the back of the room to prepare for closing poses, and I dropped back once again. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

Closing poses, drove home and stopped at three different fruit stands looking for a Mexican mango. Why are all the Mangos at the fruit stands from Haiti this month? Bought one anyway. It is just too sweet. It's as if they married a pure-bred Mango with a mixed breed Mango - one with long-ago family ties to the Papaya.

And here I sit, having finished my Mango and a banana and now working on a piece of Alvarado Street Bakery Sprouted Wheat Bread. YUM!!



Julie said...

When I first dropped back at the studio, then came up to the knees I was met with "Exit Incorrect!" I was also instructed to not drop back until I could exit correctly. In all honesty, the feeling of dropping back is lovely but I do believe it is more valuable to learn to stand up first. I know, I know, I'm raining on your parade... you should be having a parade... you really should. I did when I first dropped back too.... but, having been there, don't get too attached to dropping back and losing your energy there. The work is in learning to engage your quads and bandhas to standup then you'll be amazed at what dropping back brings.

Now all that said, do a few dropbacks for me why don't you ;)

boodiba said...

Congrats on your practice!!!

I like the referencing to the yamas an niyamas. Also to discipline. I'm constantly amazed by what a mental struggle it can be to get myself on the mat. After all this time!

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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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