Progress in practice (physical version)

Today was one of those days where getting up is difficult and I wonder if practice is going to be awful and sluggish and painful. My hip flexors have been killing me. Killing me in the way my collarbones were killing me when I learned supta kurmasana. Continuous give-me-more-ibuprofen-so-I can-think-about-something-other-than-this-pain kind of pain. I’m guessing it’s from the backbending initiative I’ve set up for myself. I’m praying it will eventually go away, like the supta kurmasana pain finally did.

Anyhow, I got up and took ibuprofen (Just 1! I don’t have a problem!) and went to practice. Where, with that delightful unpredictability that practice has, I enjoyed a terrific primary series and some instructive urdhva dhanurasanas.

One new thing: an adjustment in hanumanasana. At my shala, it is usual for folks to do the samakonasana/hanumanasana “extra” sequence after the prasaritas. It’s not required, but most people do it. Except me. I ditched it when I was having hamstring problems last year. Found that just leaving the samakonasana/hanumanasana dealio for Saturday led class was enough to keep the pose, but not so much as to irritate the healing hamstrings.

It’s time to get back to hanumanasana, though. For one thing, I am leery of it, because I am still overly protective of the hamstrings, particularly the right one, which was the more injured of the two. So time to get past that fear. Additionally, and more importantly at this point, the pose helps stretch out my poor hip flexors.

Anyhow, there I was in hanumanasana, when Volleyball Guy came over to adjust me. He’s never done this, in the almost two years I’ve been practicing. Likely because he knew I had twanged hamstrings for a while there, and also, once they better, I imagine I looked pretty scared and tentative as I got back to the pose.

When I was in the upright part of the pose, he just delicately pulled back on my shoulders, to get a little more gracefulness into what I’m sure was my tense bolt-uprightness. Then, when I raised my arms, he grabbed my wrists and pulled upward. What a great feeling! It felt like there was a spiral of energy straight up through my spine/head/arms/hands. I felt like a glass Christmas ornament, perfectly balanced and suspended. Great adjustment!

For urdhva dhanurasana, I’ve been putting a strap around my upper arms to keep my arms straight and my hands closer together. As it turns out, I think I have too wide a stance with my feet and with my hands. The energy gets dispersed sideways. On Sunday, Sanskrit Scholar did the adjustment where you use your knees to push in on the elbows of the person in urdhva dhanurasana. I’ve had the adjustment before, but this time I felt what it was trying to teach me about compacting the energy and keeping it close to the midline. So I’ve been using the strap on my arms to remind myself.

Today, as I was doing UDs with my arms strapped, Volleyball Guy came over and wrapped a strap around my legs, too. The pressure of the straps really did concentrate all of the energy into the midline, and made a HUGE difference. Much easier to push into the arch, and much easier to stay in the pose. Suddenly I understood the energy running back and forth along the midline. Before, it was about my arms and legs pushing up from four points to the apex (around the navel). Not sure if any of this makes sense, but it’s a great breakthrough for me. At least in my mind. Now I just have to figure out how to pull in the energy without relying on the straps.

Okay, time for work. Work is as crazy as it has been for the past month or so. Last week was a doozy. It’s really cutting into my blog-reading and -writing time. That doesn’t seem right, does it? 😉


One Response

  1. Hi Karen
    Hmm, I’m tempted to try the double strap idea, except I don’t want to give my teacher any ideas, because she will usually say, “that’s good, do it for the rest of the week.” So I guess I would do it for the rest of the week, if she comments.

    My first ashtanga teacher said that the Hanumanasana after the Pasaritas was something that Dick Ireland, John Scott’s first teacher, used to do. So 35 years ago, people were doing this asana in that part of the Primary, then it was taken out. Some of us in our shala do it. I won’t do it if the teacher is present or available to start adjusting. I have gotten comments if they were present that I should not be doing it. But it sure makes your Padangustasana easier later, since the legs feel stronger.


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