Thursday, January 28, 2010

Written Material

There seem to be myriad of books written by B. K. S. Iyengar.
There's only 1, singular book, written by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. 1.

There are some Iyengar-centric blogs out there, but really in the vastness of the blog-sphere very, very, limited (based on my searches). Ashtanga-centric blogs, on the other hand, there is certainly no shortage.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The first sentence I read during my commute into work today:

"Nothing can be achieved without knowledge, action, devotion, and will."

Iyengar, B.K.S. Astadala Yogamala. Volume 1, 85.

The Monday night level 3 at UnityWoods is kicking my butt.

It's shown me that I rely waaaaaay too much on flexibility.

(And continues to keep me up long into the early hours of the morning - if anyone has suggestions for winding down after a night class filled with backbends, inversions and arm balances, I'm open to pretty much anything at this point)

Pose after pose alternating twists and various arm balances with
urdhva dhanuarasana. Those long holds of UD seemed like a walk in the park and a much deserved rest. The first three arm balances were ok. Not the prettiest eka hasta bhujasana or first stage of astavakrasana or bhujapidasana (alternating ankle cross mid pose) but actually got some air.

4th arm balance was second stage of astavakrasana. My interpretation looked more like legs crossed around either right or left arm while collapsed in a contorted heap on the floor pose. Gravity was in full effect in my 28" x 68" area - more so than anywhere else in the room. Teacher called me out from her mat at the front of the room, "Where's your arm balance? Use those intercostals girl!" Nope. Not firing whatsoever. Only me crumpled in a contorted heap in the pool of sweat that had accumulated on my mat - shaking, struggling to lift the bottom hip from the floor.

Moving in to sirsasana teacher commented that she wants to move into some of the more advanced arm balances later on this session. Boy do I have my work cut out for me - part of me really wants to retreat back to the level 2 or 2/3. The stubborn part won't allow that.

I've heard many comment on how humbling an Ashtanga practice can be.
This Iygengar class has certainly shown me what my knees are for.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

527; 532/281; 534/282: A Whole Different UHP

In Iyengar class, 13 days ago, 10.01.07 we compared the Ashtanga and Iyengar versions of utthita hasta padagusthasana.

Huge mathematical difference between the two. Ashtanga one hand, two fingers to big toe raise leg to π/2 or at most /3, and then forward fold, chin to shin (if going "old skool"). Iyengar, lift leg to π/2 or to position where foot can be grabbed by one hand and then both hands and raise leg as close to π as possible then chin to shin. Of course theoretically the pelvis should be kept square and level and perpendicular to floor - in both versions.

Then to work on correcting the alignment of the hip and femur and leg, Spirited C had us line up against the wall, butt, heel, and back against the wall. It's hard stand like that - let alone to keep everything aligned and raise that leg, then to grab the foot with both hands - not even considering personal anatomical (short arm) issues. Thank goodness for straps.

Fast forward, 10.01.17, AYC DC Sunday morning, cruising along in the standing sequence. D walks by my mat and points towards the ropes wall and directs me to put my butt and heel against the wall and instructs me to enter UHP. I m
aybe was able to lift either leg to π/3 without toppling - reaching an arm to the big toe, not even able to merely speculate the possibility.

This morning, exiting parsovatanasana, I stood at the front of my mat, glance around and decide that humility is the best option for a Wednesday morning. Back to the ropes wall...

Are they knowingly or unknowingly in cahoots?

* * *

Three things of personal note when I wasn't toppling all over the place and hanging on the ropes:

1. Padabandha of the standing leg very important.

2. With D's assistance to actually get the raised foot, I was able to get this amazing stretch in the outer hip and inner calf of the raised leg.

3. Correct alignment, seems to accentuate where flexibility and strength are lacking
(and it's quite amazing how the body can easily compensate).

Monday, January 18, 2010

The path is always significant.

18 days into 20-10 and already things have somehow spun into warp-speed.

I've already put some travel for a couple workshops on my calendar and my weekends seem to be filling fast with social engagements. In conversation, Mrs. A and I have toyed with the idea that January 20-10 seems to be more of an annex of 2009 than it's own separate entity. Maybe that it's more transitional than anything else.

Right now a lot of things feel as though they are in limbo - the only two things that seem to provide stability are work and yoga. But I'm still trying to work out how to best balance the Iyengar classes with Ashtanga - so really the only thing that isn't in flux is work. (?!)

I'm taking a level 3 Iyengar class at UnityWoods one night a week. First, I'm normally in bed by the time it's over and in the first class of the session, I was quite surprised that I didn't doze off in handstand. Second, this teacher loves dropbacks and inversions and as a result of the sequence, I was absolutely wired for sound until 2am. Which now that I think about it, could be a great time to work on art related stuff.

Part of it is that that I'm trying to figure this yoga thing out - how it fits, how the rest of the world fits, and where this all "goes." As many of us know, this practice can easily become all consuming - as a whole or in parts. Ask the Mathematician and the Artist, I have always readily become obsessed with the esoteric and dogged in a search for something if I feel it significant. I have piles of books I want to read and things I would love to do extra work on "in my free time" (getting both my butt and feet off the ground between navasana simultaneously would be nice for starters).

But to what end and sacrifice?

Saturday night with SeattleSunshine - sharing some wine, laughs, tears, and dreams - nothing was resolved but I have some better ideas. She asked about my 5 year goals/dreams. I drew a blank and she wouldn't let me change the subject. I feel as though I'm still on the verge of something and have to make a decision. Maybe not a final decision, but just a decision to refine direction - to offer further perspective.

I can say with certainty that time and space always seem to provide this, like with all things I think that, ultimately, it's just having patience (with a dash of persistence).