Sunday, February 26, 2012

it should feel effortless

My teacher likes to say that about the practice. I think I have a lot of years til I can decide if that statement is true. Now, there is a lot of effort in my practice: in the asanas, in the breath (especially) and in my mind to focus on what I am doing. On Friday, I lost track of how many surya b's I had done, so I did an extra to be sure, not an easy task for me.

Makes me wonder what exactly she meant by "effortless".  In my feldenkrais trainings, we hear that all time "try to make the movement take less effort". With feldenkrais, you focus on becoming aware of the unnecessary effort you put into movements and, as a result, rewire your brain to move more easily. At the end of a lesson involving lifting your can find that your leg feels a whole lot lighter than it did at the beginning. I wonder if this is what i might one day feel within my yoga practice.

Generally, once I start my practice, it does (sort of) propel itself along (ok, I do wish my teacher wouldn't find me right away for UHP, but other than that one). I feel positively lazy since the injury, not that I am not trying, but I have stopped trying to jump forward and back in the suryas, and to lift up (hah) and then after plopping back down, try to jump back to chatauranga. There is more to the practice than those pesky transitions which either hurt my ankle or wrists....the trouble with being more bendy than strong either in body or in breath. And no extra-for fun- vinyasa classes for a while. That can wait.

Today was the first day that I got my head to the ground (plop!) in prasarita A. I lost the whole feeling of the pose after that, and thought I might tumble over. I didn't manage it with any of the other prasaritas after that. It is so funny how the ground, the goal, is so close to my head, but I have no idea where I am in relation to it, and then when I get there, instead of a feeling of accomplishment, I feel ungrounded and not sure of what I am doing.

Today was also my first practice taping my leg to give it a little support. I guess it helped, so hard to tell about these things. The kinesio tape arrives this week and now that my massage therapist has shown me how to tape my leg..I do hope that it helps. I would like to be able to jump back again this spring or summer, among other things.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

up at 615

Long break, because I whacked my ankle last week..combination of a bad massage and then practicing the next day with a sore spot on my leg from said massage....and now jumping back and forward is a thing of the past. egads. still angry about the massage. i tried to rest it a few days..but i am too impatient, and in new york, how are you supposed to rest a leg? i had my feldenkrais training this past weekend too, so there was no staying home for me. i figured, after 4 days off, i would be happier with a gimpy no jumping practice than with another day of no practice.

Woke up at 615 ( apparently it doesnt take long to readjust to mornings), though I stayed in bed til almost 7, telling myself I would practice at home..then realized that I still have to get up just as early as to practice at home (to eat a tiny breakfast beforehand. Practicing on a truly empty stomach..that is not for me, not yet) so I trundled out of bed and to the studio. Paid for another month..figure I will give it another month (at least) to see how I feel there, I think it takes probably 6 mos of very consistent practice to get a real idea of what this practice is like.

Yes, morning practice is sinking in..

My ankle still a bit sore after practice though (not really ankle, but something on the inside of the calf that runs just behind the ankle bone/joint. Jumping forward and back is going to be a no no for the foreseeable future. I tried to rush this morning (since i was running late), though to the casual observer (and maybe even my teacher), it looked like a person doing a slow practice. I wanted to give my whole practice more flow, and try eliminate some of those extra breaths and movements that creep in everywhere.

this whole practice is an exercise in not having a lot of attachment to results, i must remind myself of that constantly, as..someone nearby did all of intermediate, and started third series (something i will never see in my lifetime, as the idea of dropbacks causes extreme panic, let alone to ever have the stamina to complete primary with ease, as it takes me so long now just to get to mari A). still, i am grateful to be able to practice at all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

why go?

my alarm woke me at was grey and cold and damp, and i seriously considered just going back to sleep and skipping practice. but my sense of discipline? obligation? curiosity? prevailed, and i got out of bed.

new pose today. marichasana A. only a few more til i start backbending and closing. when i started, i was in a total rush, but now (yes, a measly 5 weeks later) , i am more than happy to wait. hoping this goes more slowly now. i feel like my body has to catch up to all these poses, and their vinyasas. monday, however, was an interesting day. no assists at all. i got to try the (dreaded, if you have my crappy sense of balance) UHP by myself. my teacher was helping someone else, and i decided to just go for it. i was shocked that i could manage the first 2/3 of the posture on each side. getting the leg back to the front, and bending over it again makes me fall. yes, my leg is not straight, but i didnt fall over, which amazed me. and, oh it is much more exhausting when i did it by myself. mentally worrying about keeping my balance as well as that little bit of teetering on each leg is exhausting.

but it wasnt the quality of the posture done by myself which i meant to discuss, but what it feels like to have a practice day with no assists from my teacher. usually i just get the UHP assist, and maybe a verbal instruction on a standing pose, and/or a new pose, but i am not at the part of the series where many assists are needed. after class, it made me think about what is it that i get from going to a shala, when i get very few assists (ironically, i think i get more, or the same number of assists at the big classes at jivamukti as i do at this shala, but i go to the same classes, so my teachers are familiar with my practice there). 

so it begs the question, why go to a shala? why not practice at home, where i might be a bit more easy on myself (ie. go even slower than i do now at the shala). 

the main thing that comes to mind is partaking in the shared energy of the practice. to practice with a group energizes my practice. Hearing other people breath and the general feeling of quiet and focused practice help me to focus on my practice. even though the shala is a small room, i still prefer to be next to someone, rather than have a lot of space around me. Also, just to be around other people who have practiced a long time is inspiring. and also to practice in a space where others have practiced for a couple years. 

so i will stay with the shala. i admit at first, when it seemed so hard just to get through the standing sequence, i thought hard about just working on that part at home, and coming back when i felt stronger. but i think i need the energy and the ritual of practicing at the shala for now.

Friday, February 3, 2012

it will get harder

that's what my ashtangi friend told me today..followed by "i probably shouldn't have told you that", since i am new to the practice. right now every practice gets easier in more superficial ways - my strength is better, my breath flows a little better, so i don't have to take refuge in the praseritas in order to find my breath again (well, not quite as much, anyway), and i am hopefully a little less anxious about being able to do my practice (the nerves that always strike while i wait for the train to go back uptown, but quiet down when i step onto my mat).

but yes, like any practice, the more you time you spend with it, the more there is to learn- more asanas, more with the breath, the transitions between asanas, and just going deeper in the practice-the other limbs. i could see that a bit in my vinyasa practice, and before when i made art. with artmaking, there was a feeling of 'it could be better' that always accompanied me. the feeling of falling short and yet moving on, continuing. always moving on.

back to the mat. once i get used to the sequence..then the real work begins. right now, i am just happy to be where i am in the practice.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


made it to work just before 10am..that was today's major practice accomplishment. oh what will happen when i have to get up and to the shala even earlier than now. i am not a morning person. given extra time, i can always find something to read or putter around with in the morning, before leaving for work, or leaving for the shala.

my hamstring tendon problems have flared up again this week. ugh. tomorrow's motto will be modify, modify, modify...this is where i get nervous about practicing in a shala, rather than at home. at home, i feel less pressured (by myself, mostly) to be perfect in my practice. i can take more time when needed, and do some prep work on the postures too. and feel assured that backing off on postures wont be looked as as being lazy. at the shala, the energy is really wonderful. i love hearing people breathe while they practice; it carries me forward in my practice..but i feel that it also encourages me to go further in postures than i should, and/or to go faster in my practice than i would otherwise (i am a natural sloth..though also oddly seem to be mostly pitta..go figure)