Pre-Christmas Led

Today was the most physically comfortable practice I’ve ever had. I pushed to the edges, so it’s not like I didn’t feel any pain, but somehow the whole series seemed very… well, comfortable. I didn’t feel particularly light or particularly bendy or especially twisty or anything like that. But somehow, my physical being felt very clear — like there were no resistances. It’s rather frustrating, trying to put it into words. I guess I am familiar with the feeling of transcending my body in practice — whereas today was more about… Gah! Inability to explain! Okay, let’s just say it was all one — body, mind, the whole dealio. Sigh. That’s what I get for trying to explain it.

Is it possible to have too much pratyahara? That’s been my question over the past couple of weeks or so. I am a master at retracting my senses, but I wonder if sometimes it’s too much. I remember being absorbed in things (generally drawing) when I was a pre-schooler. It’s lasted my whole life. My Gift has it, too — the ability to go inside the self. It can be turned to pratyahara practice quite easily. But what about when you are an introvert? When does it turn into a method for protecting the self from external things? When is it a defense mechanism? The question was driven home this morning at led, when I called out the count for surya B. I know the numbers in Sanskrit, and I sometimes count them in my head when I am practicing alone. It was SO hard, though, to say the numbers aloud. I was super-conscious of the membrane between internal and external. And so I realize (again!) that I’m much more deft at the internal side of things.

I suspect some of these questions are arising as a result of embarking on intermediate. The new poses have intersected with a busy time at work and the holiday season to create a perfect storm. On the one hand, my nerves are being revved up more by second series and the external events of work and holidays; on the other hand, having new poses always throws me back inside myself (which is where I go when I have something new to process). So I guess the vibration between inside and outside is probably higher than it’s been in a long while.

Okay, so led today. Some familiar holiday faces (folks who now live elsewhere but once upon a time practiced with Volleyball Guy) are back for a visit. And it seems like each week we are getting a few new people. So far, none of the new people from December have returned — Ashtanga isn’t being asked out for any second dates 😦 Oh well.

This morning, Volleyball Guy came over and adjusted me in ardha baddha padma paschimottanasana. I was a little nervous at first, because I can fold up well in the pose, and the thing that is my “edge” is the amount of pain my ankle bone feels when it is crushed against my hip bone. I figured if Volleyball Guy squashed me any more, the only thing that would result, since I can’t fold any flatter than I am, would be for me to have a nice excruciating pain in my ankles, and maybe some bruises later on my hip bones.

I decided a long time ago that I would always try to not resist Volleyball Guy’s adjustments, so I just went ahead and folded up and waited for his adjustment. He pushed me forward, as well as pressing down on me, and it was a really interesting little electrical feeling in my hip sockets, sort of like there ought to be a soundtrack making little pinging noises to indicate the energy that kind of crackled around in my hip joints. No idea what all that was about, and I didn’t have time to think about it much, because as I sat up, he told me to put my other foot into padmasana, then hauled me up so I could do the jumpback from lotus. Some day, when Volleyball Guy quits because his back is ruined, we can all think of this day. I appreciate him demonstrating the motion to me, but gosh, it’s a physically challenging lesson, to actually drag a student’s body through it. And since I’m not particularly kinesthetically apt, I was mostly just a dead weight — sorry about that, Volleyball Guy! I’ll try it out more during home practices.

The other pose of note was baddha konasana. Where, for the first time, I put my head on the floor all by myself — no sandbags, no squish from another person. Woohoo! It took almost ten breaths, and I was pulling like hell with my arms/shoulders, but hey, it’s a start! I’m psyched, because it is the pose that seemed most physically impossible for me. At this point it’s 150% shtira — mostly it’s a “damn the torpedoes!” kind of deal, meaning I pull my feet in close, turn the soles up to the ceiling, and then press them into each other as hard as I can, meanwhile forgetting about the owie, owie, owie! feeling in my hips. Yup, sukha level = zero. Some day (haha! I can’t even write this with a straight face!) I will no doubt gracefully lower my head to the floor in baddha konasana. But that day is rather a way off.

After class, a few of the Mysorians were chatting outside the room, when Sanskrit Scholar presented us with Caroline Klebl Ashtanga calendars. I tried to order one last week, but the vendor was out of stock, so this is a very sweet gift! She also told me my blog wasn’t functioning correctly, which shook me out of my blog-neglect mode. Well, kinda shook me out. Instead of fixing it, I just republished in a new presentation format. Slacker!

It was nice to see the yoga folk before the holiday. Good people. They help me keep the faith.

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