Monday morning

One of those “got to get to an early meeting” mornings. Started right in at 5:30, so I could finish up, run home and get ready for work (I’m 2 miles from the shala), and be in the office (4 miles from home) by 8 AM. Not too hard to pull off, but no room for dawdling. I prefer being able to just forget all about work during practice time, but oh well.

Volleyball Guy is quite attentive to the need-to-get-to-work practitioners. If he knows you have an early meeting, he mentions the time every now and again.

Practice felt really good. Zippy but not frantic. I did take a break at the end of primary, strolled around the room, and then came back to my mat for the intermediate poses. I need to knock off this habit once I get the breathing smoothed out on the new poses. For now, though, if I plow straight through, I lose my breath — I just push too hard if I don’t take a moment to regroup.

Finally, finally, I am starting to feel like less of an intermediate series imposter. For a while there, it just all felt so unlikely. Kind of like a tough climb on the first attempt. You might make it, but it’s gonna be ugly — and the things you learn as you scramble up are the things that you’ll need to know to make future climbs much more elegant. I’m not at elegant yet, but I am starting to see the lines of the structure: the places where I get tangled up, the places where I can relax and just assume everything is going along well.

I got a down dog adjustment during the suryas, then the usual supta kurmasana feet behind the head assist, and then nothing more until the intermediate poses. I like that Volleyball Guy is spare with the assists; I like that he just helps me where I need it. That way I don’t feel like I am greedy and using up his energy needlessly. Anyhow, tons of adjustments at the end of the practice: salabhasana, bhekasana, dhanurasana, laghu vajrasana and, of course, kapotasana.

The toe grabbing in kapotasana is a given at this point (not that it isn’t a struggle, but it is do-able). What I wonder about now is my ambition — or, rather, my lack of it. Once I have my fingers tucked into the space between the pads of my toes and the balls of my feet, I quit struggling to get more of the foot. The thing is, it doesn’t really hurt or anything at this point. I mean, it’s tough, but it’s not like I’m on the verge of screaming or bursting into flames or anything. I guess there’s a part of me that figures if kapotasana isn’t killing me, then I’m not really trying hard enough. It definitely feels like a challenge (by far the most significant challenge in my Ashtanga career), but I guess I am tempering the experience by holding back a teeny bit. Not that I can imagine pushing any more than I already am. I guess I’m just judging by the pain I imagine I’m supposed to feel. Okay. Now I’m gonna knock wood and just be thankful for how this is going.

After supta vajrasana, I did my dutiful urdhva dhanurasanas — not just three, but six, because if I keep doing them, someday my shoulders will open and it won’t be such a big freaking struggle. Or so I believe.

Then I scooted over to my mat and pulled my feet into padmasana. No time for closing!

Yeah, not so fast.

“Dropbacks, Karen,” Volleyball Guy said from across the room.

“But I’m already meditating,” I pointed out. He was amused, but undeterred.

And so it was. He does a great assist where he sits in front of me and just presses with his hands against my outer thighs to stabilize me. Very cool.

I grabbed another padmasana, felt grateful for a moment, and then I ran off.

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