Plain old practice notes

Woke this morning with some sore spots (piriformis, most notably) and thought “Hmmmm, this must be from playing around with yoga nidrasana last night.” This playing around with yoga nidrasana is, of course, part of my attempt to understand supta k. Yesterday in led, supta k was terrific, at least the bind was. Still have some work to do on the hips (hence yoga nidrasana). Anyhow, the hand bind is getting very straightforward. Jody mentioned something in his blog about the set up of the hands, which I’ve found to be true. For a few weeks now, I’ve had to put a lot of energy into the correct set up of my hands, in order to have any hope of getting the bind.

When I first started practicing the pose, I would reach back with both hands–and with a huge sense of blindness and futility. The whole back body was just a vast uncharted expanse my hands/arms couldn’t possibly encompass. Then one morning, as I was flailing, Sanskrit Scholar said something about turning one hand in the opposite direction (I was reaching with both palms facing up). Duh! With both palms facing up, my fingers would occasionally brush, but I could never grab the other hand. One palm had to face down and one up in order to pull this off. So I started setting up with the right hand facing down. That was the key to the whole bind, that the right hand be extended as far across my back as possible (by scooting the right shoulder under my leg) and held in place as strongly as possible. I would feel with my fingertips and try to be sure that my fingers were past my spinal column (basically, that the right fingers were more than halfway across my back). Then I could reach my up-facing left hand across my back to look for the right. Basically, the right always waits in the same place on my back, in the ready position, and the left seeks it out.

This solution is somewhat unbalanced, as it plays directly to my strengths and my weaknesses. I had a rotator cuff tear on the left side a few years ago, and the left shoulder is my weaker link. I suspect it may be psychological, this perceived weakness, but I suppose that doesn’t matter. So I use the right side to be strong and still and “correct” in set-up, and then I use the left side to “find” the right and stretch toward it.

At the same time, I am also really focused on back bends these days. Finally, I am starting to understand the strange (to me) kinesthetics of backbends. I am all about forward bend consciousness: internal, quiet, intuitive, etc. (Last week, I was composing an email to Crim Girl, as we chatted about the energy of back bends, and I realized that I have all kinds of adjectives for the energy of forward bends, and pretty much no words for the energy of back bends.) So this business of turning my heart out is quite a project. Hampered, to the nth degree, by decades of weightlifting, where heavy squats were by far my favorite thing to do. Psoases of steel. Quads like stretched cables 😉

Slowly, slowly, slowly, the back bends are starting to come clear.

It occurred to me this morning that by focusing on supta k and backbends, I am working both ends of the spectrum of primary: supta k is the deepest expression of forward bending in the series, and backbends, well, the only expression of backward bending in the series. The image of a paper clip being bent back and forth comes to mind 😉 It’s kind of funny, but also an interesting idea: the bending has to be thoughtfully dispersed along the full length of the material, or else the whole thing eventually snaps. And it’s really interesting to mess around with the energies of forward and backward bending, to compare and contrast, to feel around in it, to (maybe?) try out a zen thing where they are different but the same, and both the same, and both different. And then, of course, just do it.