if you’re me:
- the night before, right before bed, stretch the tight spots. You know what they are.
- wake up early enough to take a shower, not a bath. At least this time of year when the temptation to stay in the bath too long is too great.
- during shower, do the following stretches: standing forward bend, gomukhasana arms, squat and twist. If possible, do kneeling version of Parivritta Parsvakonasana and bind. Take as long as needed for this to warm up the spine. Sit on shower floor (if your shower floor is nice and clean!) and take a “camel ride” (seated cat-cows with hands on shins) and then draw circles in the air with your navel (you need a decent sized shower for this, but I do, and this is about me).
- drink a cup of chai made with almond milk and two Yogi Tea Black Chai teabags, steeped for at least five minutes.
- drive to shala with heat at full blast.
- at shala, just get started without any prep nonsense – you did the prep at home.
I had such a nice practice today. LOTS of pre-practice preparations makes for such a better practice for me. I’m lucky I have the time for it. I wonder what my practice would be like if I didn’t. Probably, I would have quit by now because I would always feel tight and horrible, at least in the wintertime. Oni helped me bigtime today in Kurmasana – slowly working my belly to the floor and putting me into Supta K. I always wince as the ankles come together. Once I get over that, progress will have been made. Until then, I have some fears to work out. This is why I am in need of assistance on Supta K. Without assistance, I get into the posture myself with the least amount of depth possible, just lighly crossing the feet or ankles. THIS is what I came to Mysore practice for in the first place- getting deeper and confronting the fears about it.
Also managed to hold a good solid Pasasana on both sides without anyone holding me up. Damn, but it’s tough to balance in that one. And in Bhekasana, after the assist, I managed to stay there with chest upright for another couple of breaths.
Backbendng was okay. Nothing to write home about. I used a strap today to try to figure out what it is my arms are supposed to be doing and feeling. There is such a disconnect for me there. My wrists feel horrible most of the time and I really can’t feel myself recruiting my nice strong shoulders to press up. Instead, I’m using my puny weak wrists and forearms. When I use the strap, I am able to actively recruit the shoulders and triceps. I just still haven’t figured out why, nor have I figured out how to reproduce that work without the strap’s silent but incredibly effective coaching.
OK, so here’s another place where I am not buying into the system wholeheartedly: I think props are useful for such “coaching” and for passive stretching, as well as for binding in poses that usually require assistance when there is no assistance to be had. I wouldn’t make a habit of using a prop, and I would always hope to stay mindful of when a prop has outlived its utility. But I do not see how I could have possibly come this far without my judicial use of props (and prep).
But here’s a place where I am rigidly system-biased: My husband asked me today if I had heard of a particular Ashtanga teacher who teaches on Long Island. I said no, but noted that she still might be totally legit even if her name is not on the short list of authorized teachers. Then the husband said that she comes into the city on a regular basis to practice with Dharma Mittra. that’s when I said, “Oh. She must not really be an Ashtangi.”
Hrmph. A little Ashtanga-snot-ass, I am.
Can one be an Ashtangi but practice on a regular basis with Dharma Mittra?