Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ardha Badha Padmottanasana Epiphany

I've come a long way in this posture since two years ago when I first started working on it, even before I discovered Mysore style practice.

At first, it was impossible for me to reach behind my back and grab my lotus foot. I guess my chest was too tight, my shoulders didn't rotate much, and my lotus was kind of shaky. In order for me to even play at binding the foot, I had to lean my butt against a wall, thus eliminating the balance aspect of the posture so that I could focus on the stretching aspect.

Eventually, I was able to make the bind, but only when I was already completely folded over. And by completely folded over, I mean that my chest was still miles away from my legs, my nose or chin nowhere near my shin. Oh, and let's not forget that standing leg, which was bent at the knee for support and out of fear of hyperextending it backward.

As I grew more flexible and strong, around the time I took up my daily Mysore style practice, I found that I was able to approximate Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, and by approximate, I mean I could basically do the posture, but the vinyasa went something like this:

Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale while putting the right leg into lotus, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, while struggling to wind my right arm behind my back to take my big toe or maybe, if I was lucky, my first two toes.

Inhale again, from a semi-folded-over stance, and then exhale to fold over a bit more, to the point where I could gingerly feel for the floor with my left hand, which was way out to the left side and way far in front of the tips of my left toes.

Five inhale-exhales in this precarious position, and then look up and attempt to lengthen my back on the next inhale, staying there on the next exhale, although already steeling myself for the intense work that was about to come...

Then inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, with a bent standing leg to bring my torso back to semi-upright.

Exhale into Samasthiti.



It wasn't pretty. But it was adequate in the shala to get me to the next posture and finish the standing postures, as well as to prepare me for the seated version: Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana, which was MUCH easier by virtue of its elimination of the balancing element.

Anyway, over time, like man evolving from the apes (hahahahaha, Sir if you are reading this, I believe that I did, in fact, evolve from a monkey of sorts...ASM, I hope YOU are reading this as well), I eventually came to stand erect (even while taking the bind). Eventually, my free hand no longer dragged on the ground (but rather, supported me, firmly planted to the left of my left foot, fingertips in line with toe tips). Eventually, and quite recently, in fact, I came to place my face on my shin and to come up at the end without falling over.

But what I hadn't figured out until today was how to come up without bending my standing leg. At least when my right leg was the standing leg. With the left, I seemed to work it out, using that leg's strength, my bhandas and a nice sense of balance, which I am thankful for. With the right, well, one of those elements was missing. I wasn't sure which, and I was starting to blame it on a weaker right knee. A "trick" knee, or something like that.

And then there was today: (cue a swelling symphony and an operatic soprano rocking high E) I PRESSED my lotused left leg back, awakening the muscles of the entire leg, as I stood up. And voila.

So, it turned out it was all my left leg's fault, not pulling it's weight, generally playing dead in Ardha Badha. I had no idea it was such a slacker.

And then I kept my hands together in Supta K LONG enough for Sir to make an actual attempt to put my ankles together (I really am much better off STARTING with my ankles crossed...note to self: find out why I'm not being encouraged to do this), strong enough for him to wedge a towel between my hands BEFORE the bind fully broke (my index fingers were still hooked even as I held the towel. YAY!

Then I begged and pleaded with Sir to let me do Garba Pindasana to relieve the wonky back feelings. And (a) he said yes, (b) I executed it without a hitch other than not making much of a rotation between breaths four and five, although I quickly made up for it and made it all the way around in nine breaths, which I never thought I would be able to pull off while being observed and (c) it REALLY helped by back and I was able to go right from there into backbends, of which I did six.

No shala for me tomorrow as I have a class trip. I suppose I will self-practice later. Must decide whether to do a classic shala-type practice or to go balls out and do my whole (rather insane), full-on, all-inclusive practice (which includes binds in Uttita Parsvakonasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana, Bakasana after Utkatasana, Compass Pose before Janu Sirsasana C...etc....

YC

2 comments:

dedsharp 666 said...

Love reading your experience in getting into Ardha Badha Padmottanasana. A lot of it sounds very familiar. Lately I am getting into this asana a lot easier but sometimes I am still afraid to place the hand flat on the floor 'coz I am unsure of being able to get upright again.

dedsharp 666 said...

Love reading your experience in getting into Ardha Badha Padmottanasana. A lot of it sounds very familiar. Lately I am getting into this asana a lot easier but sometimes I am still afraid to place the hand flat on the floor 'coz I am unsure of being able to get upright again.

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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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