How it’s going

Home practice is going well, Tova! Thanks for asking. 🙂

The ear plugs are a really interesting experiment. It makes the evenness (or raggedness) of the breath so apparent. Moments of stress sound very different from moments of ease. What I’ve discovered is that in moments of stress, I tend to suck in the inhale. Exhales are fine by me — I’ve always loved exhales when sitting zazen. It’s the inhaling that can hang me up. So, interesting to listen to.

I am chakrasa-ing my butt off. Every single last one that’s called for in primary. Even if I don’t want to (especially if I don’t want to!). I am using my crash pad to prop my shoulders up a bit, and this morning I finally got the little synchronization of the abs (or, if I want to be fancy, the bandhas) that pops you up and over. Still need the propped shoulders, but eventually that will get squared away and I’ll be able to lose the pad.

Urdhva dhanurasana with earplugs is fascinating. I am a nervous backbender, though much less so than when I first started. I wondered this morning if it is merely a case of response to the adrenaline that one gets in a backbend: some people may “read” it as exhilaration, while others — like me — read it as a kind of stress. Anyhow.

When Annie Pace was here, I asked her about doing “extra” urdhva dhanurasanas. Her advice (haha! as if Annie gives advice; let me tell you: Annie gives answers) was quite clear: do three or do five. No two, no four, no nine. Three or five. I also asked about whether to pause on the top of the head between each, or whether to lie all the way back down. Her answer: do it according to the breath. If the breath is wacky, go all the way back down and re-set.

I’ve been doing three with blocks under my hands, then two without. Listening to my breath and making the call each time as to whether to go to the head or all the way down in between. Generally speaking, I am good to rest on my head and then go back up. But it is excellent practice to LISTEN to the breath. Then the “win” lies in listening to the breath and responding to it, rather than “winning” by forcing myself through rapid-fire urdhva dhanurasanas that test my will and stress my system. This morning, something felt different — the weight was in my legs, the bend was throughout my back, and my shoulders and arms weren’t screaming. Will it stay that way now forever? Oh, Karen — always grasping… 😉


5 Responses

  1. good!
    i know you have talked about your chakrasana issues before, but could you recap? i ask because i used to hate chakrasana but now it is mostly a nonissue and i wonder if my foibles could help you.
    and that was interesting about urdhva D. i always feel like a cheater coming all the way down, but if Annie says it’s ok, then OK!

  2. Interesting, the use of blocks for backbends. Do you feel they are helping you? Maybe I’ll try that, they could help me to get extension through the arms (is that why you do it?). Do you put them against the wall, so they don’t slip?

  3. Hey Cranky,

    I’ll write about my chakrasana issues later. So you can hear the whole sad story!


    Yes, the blocks are to get more extension through the arms. And I do put them against the wall so they don’t slip.

  4. Sounds good to me—I’m still working on bringing in my elbows (using a strap) and pushing up through my arms. The blocks sound like a good idea.

  5. This is helpful – I have chakrasana issues too! : )

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