Today I decided to practice astanga up to the seated sequence, then give Ramaswami's Seated Vinyasa Sequence I shot, as I just felt like doing some sitting down!
This sequence works both sides of the body separately to help help correct any imbalances, so you follow a whole sequence on one side and then swap and do the same sequence using the other side. Ramaswami says inhis little intro that some Westerners are not particularly enthusiastic about doing seated postures, such as lotus, hero and tohers that involve the hips, knees and ankles, and I had a little chuckle to myself, cos that's been me for the past 4 years! Nevertheless, this sequence is ideally suited to safeguarding against an expanding waist line and 'bludgeoning thighs'!! So with this in mind I gave it a go!
The 'hub' pose for this sequence is dandasana, a difficult posture in its own right, although it appears an easy one when watched from the outside. Not only have I realised the importance of bandha in this posture but also 'switching on' the lower back at the same time to give that lift of the lumbar and thoracic spine and just how much work this involves. The next posture (niralamba dandasana) is for all intents and purposes dandasana but with the fingers interlaced and arms raised overhead to verticle and the chin locked, in a unsupprted dandasana. It's a lovely back stretch and you can see if your arms are far enough back and then adjust to get the correct alignment and after passing through a few of these, I began to really enjoy this stretch, although again, it's quite difficult.
The sequence begins with a variety of postures in marichiasana, which I'm obviously used to doing in my ashtanga practice, but man! WOW! Why did I find marichiasana so difficult without a bind!!! My hips did not like to be held in that position on their own, one little bit! It did make me laugh! Loved the different twisting versions, turning the torso away from the bent leg was a lovely stretch on the chest.
Not a fan of the counterpose for Mari though, like purvottanasana with one leg bent.. even with one leg bent it was difficult, and why didn't my posture look anything like the man in the book? I could not get my thighs parallel for love nor money!
Aaaah..but loving Matsyendrasana, could only do the bind on one side though which was disappointing but not surprising as I have a tight side which just showed up more in this posture.
The sequence then goes into a few postures which I am aware of from the Padmasana sequence, some variations of half-matsyendrasana in lotus were nice. But janusirasana with the twist of the chest towards the ceiling..omg... i have no length in my side muscles!! A great stretch but must be worked on!
I recognised the next 3 postures from the 2nd series of ashtanga. These were 'archer', kraunchasana and eka pada sirsasana. Archer wasn't far off but quite uncomfortable on one side and I don't know why.. Heron, which I thought I had no chance in, afetr all the preliminary postures, I amazed myself by getting the leg within a foot of my face - note to self - must remember the bandhas and lower back engagement in this one. I even then had a go at the elusive ekapada! The right hip not as loose as the left, but managed to get the leg behind the head to a certain extent on boht sides. This must be down to my progress in supta kurmasana, which I'm now holding for twice as long as normal and changing the leg on top half way through. But how on earth are you meant to keep your leg behind the head? My thighs felt like they were spring loaded and if I let go they shoot back into place taking my head with them! Funny... but progress nevetheless!
Anyway... so I got through half of the sequence more or less.. yes... only half.... but they are long sequences and the postures were just getting more difficult and I took myself to where I felt comfortable today, which is fine by me... honestly!