Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Revelations

Today's practice was an interesting mix of really bad and really revelatory.

Mostly, it was really bad because my stomach was feeling really bad. I drank a ton before practice - tea, coffee, and had a bite of Manna Bread (which is the most awesomely awesome bread I have ever tasted despite being made with not much more than mashed sprouted grains, no yeast and being cooked at 200-300 degrees farenheit, but it must never ever ever be ingested in the two or three hours prior to practicing Ashtanga. I was soooo bloated. My stomach was gurgling and protesting every time I bent over. It's not that I couldn't forward bend, it's that I was hating every second of it. At one point, right before Mari A, I went outside and tried and tried to burp, hoping that might bring me some relief. Alas, it was to no avail. Despite bringing up a few bubbles, I went back into the practice room as bloated as a helium balloon, but without the lighter than air quality.

Notwithstanding the bubble trouble, I couldn't help but notice that not only have I not lost ground in a couple of poses, I have actually gained an unexpected amount of ease and fluidity. First, let's take the Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana sequence. Today, I had my first assist in it - with Xtina (who is back from wherever she was! yay!) - in so long, I can barely remember exactly how long. And up went my leg. And up it stayed. Even when the assist ended, and I had to hold it up myself for five breaths. I was psyched. Of course, UHP is not exactly an intense forward bend. It's a forward bend, to be sure. But not intense.

Intense better describes Mari A, which also provided a revelation today. Well, not so much a revelation as a confirmation, that Mari A is the key, the absolute holy grail, I believe, to Supta Kurmasana. As Petri moved my hands into the proper position to take my wrist and held down my torso, as I began breathing more and more steadily and was able to align my feet to parallel with my mat and flex my outstretched leg, it occurred to me that this is what I need to be doing in order to eventually become proficient in Supta K. It also occurred to me that Janu Sirsasana C is crucial to both Mari A and Supta K.

Things fell apart a bit after Mari A, since my bloated middle did not take kindly to having to have a foot, ankle or shin pressed into it, or simply to twist, for that matter. By the time I got to Navasana, I stopped caring. It was pure apathy. One two three four five, lift, one two three four five....blah blah blah, what am I doing after practice? where did I park my car again? And Bujapidasana suffered from a lack of caring as well. An anemic jump-forward, a half-assed (ha, if only) press up into the first phase of the posture, followed by a clunk onto the crown of my head (whereas on Sunday I had my chin to the mat), followed by a liftup into a squashed firefly that just could not metamorphose into a crow. I simply allowed myself to fall back onto my butt.

But Supta K, I cared about. I wanted it. Perhaps I wanted it because I knew I wasn't going to have it today, not with my tummy still gurgling, not when Petri's assist is so focused on flattening the tummy to the ground. No, I knew there was no way he could get me into Supta K successfully with my tummy as it was. But damn, I wanted to try. Yet, despite wanting to try, despite caring, I allowed myself to enter Kurmasana quite sloppily, legs splayed just a bit too far out. After a while, you just kind of "know" when your legs are splayed too widely for a good Supta K to happen. Petri flattened me, I flexed my feet, lifted my legs up off my arms for a good eight breaths or so, and I reveled in a good Kurmasana, knowing that it was not good enough to boost me into Supta.

And sure enough, the fingers touched, the ankles lightly crossed, but it felt like utter shit. Petri tapped me on the back, as he does to signify the assist is over (unlike Sir, who actually tips me up onto my hands so that I can press up into Tittibasana). But instead of wriggling out of it, I felt the urge to fix what felt wrong. And so, I wriggled deeper into it. I wish I could have bottled the feeling. Arms wriggling backwards, palms up, then palms turning over to wriggle the hands out sideways again, knees climbing ever higher up the hill of my back until my shoulders were right there...right there, just about, but not quite, but JUST about, under my knees....and I settled in. And it was like buttah. I just hung out and hung out and hung out...until I got kind of self conscious about it.

I didn't want anyone to think I had died there.

And then miracle of miracles, I pressed up from there into Titti, and realized: I am NOT dead! By which I mean, I have energy to spare. Six practices into my "new old routine" (as Debpc called it astutely in an email) I can get through my entire practice without feeling like I am about to collapse at the end. Who knew that could happen?

See what I mean? Revelatory.

After that, I did about six backbends, then stood up with so little control that I did have to peel myself off the wall in front of me (as Vanessa has said she fears having to do...I guess I have no fear of becoming wall pizza). But I DID stand up. No control. But I did stand. Then after dropping back on my own a few times, I went out into the lobby to find Petri and asked him if he could help me with my drop-backs. We only did the first three - hands on chin, then hands to the floor. But again: revelatory. Inhale, exhale down, inhale up. I felt it. I loved it. If I keep doing it, I know I can learn to stand up on my own. He didn't have me do the head-to-floor bit. It seems that teachers vary veeeeeeeeeeery widely in how "generous" (for lack of a better word) they are in offering drop-back assistance to people like me who still have a looooooong way to go in opening up our front bodies. Steve Dwelley was all over it with me, pressing his fingers in between my verterae, dropping me back like a million times. Must be the California in him. And Sir has dropped me back...never.

I'm optimistic about my practice, by which I mean, about my continued enjoyment of my practice. It still feels good. It still inspires me. It still conjures up feelings of joy. That is all that really matters if you think about it....I mean, if I were practicing all of Second and miserable every second of it, that would suck. If I can be happy with my practice, it doesn't really matter what asanas I am practicing.

Someone remind me I said that, when it seems like I need reminding.

Oh, and on other fronts, I think I am tackling that work of fiction that I have been ruminating about for a few years. I received a series of emails from someone who reads my blog, and our correspondence led to the unfolding of an incredibly fascinating story (hers) that struck such a chord with me that for the first time ever, I felt as if I could actually be capable of internalizing elements of it in order to create what could be an interesting (I hope) first person narrative (I never wanted to write my own story. I get too bored. The essays I write here are about all I can muster when it comes to writing about myself.). We shall see....I hope I can do it.

YC

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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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