Sunday, 29 January 2012

Kukkutasana - what?!

So although I've been practicing for the past four years, I've only managed to nail padmasana (lotus posture) in the past 10 months. It's getting easier, very slowly mind you, but it is, the hips are working more on their own accord to move the knees closer together, feet staying on tops of thighs. I was in class today and B noticed that he'd never seen me do kukkutasana, although I've recently been doing garbha pindasana  (only the rock and roll bit) in padmasana.

Why have I never even attempted kukkutasana? It's just never been part of my so called "full" primary series! So B demonstrated how to slide the arms through. He said that sliding the arms through diagonally also makes it easier. So I gave it a go and managed to get both arms through quite easily, albeit with my leggings on, think I will have to start wearing shorts now, (damn, note to self - must start shaving / tanning legs more) and wetting the arms for an easier entry, as it were! Apparently kukkutasana is a great posture for releasing the hips but protecting the knees by keeping the pressure off with the arms inside. It kind of makes sense. It felt a bit strange but great at the same time.

Backbends are getting deeper all the time, the drop backs definitely speed up the process somehow. Today I managed to move my hands in towards my feet three times, about 2.5 hand spans. I came up onto my toes, but it felt right to do that, like it gave me more momentum to come up on the inhale. Bendng the knees sure helps too when you walk your hands in. I will have to play with that on my own, I've only managed coming up once on my own, haven't given it much time since. Whilst I love the morning practice, I still feel like I'm rushed, even though I have a good 1:45 if need be. I might try Sharath's led DVD tomorrow morning. That's if I can walk by tomorrow morning....

Yesterday I went to a dance mets yoga workshop where the woman was getting us to prance across the room in a style which was akin to the warm up we had to do called "corner to corner" at gymnastics when I was young. My body is not used to doing things like this. It didn't like it and by the end I'd pulled my right calf muscle badly and my left shoulder!! I am also bruised head to toes from rolling around on the floor like I was ten. Safe to say I don't think I will be partaking in any further yoga meets dance performances, even if you do get to perform at the Olympic torch ceremony in Birmingham in July! I've been hobbling around all day like old man Steptoe. Great.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Shoulder blade bandha?!!

Along with finding my sitting bones this week I have found the wonder which I call the "shoulder-blade bandha"!!

Now, I don't know whether this is actually a bandha, but, the impact on my posture by engaging this bandha has been incredible!

Ever feel like your arms are just floating in warrior II? Squeeze shoulder blades together, it opens your heart and you feel the benefit!!! Ever had your teacher come behind you whilst in upward dog and roll your shoulders back? Answer: Squeeze the shoulder blades - engage SB bandha! How a simple engagement can transform certain postures never ceases to amaze me. Forward bends, especially the Marichi sequence - engage the SB bandha. It opens the heart completely, "turning on the lights of the posture", as RF likes to remind us.

Talking of Richard Freeman, I see he is starting an interactive pranayama course. It's quite reasonably priced also, I might sign up, although it's at 2:30 am GMT, so I'd have to watch the recordings, but think it would be really helpful given this year in the BWY course, we have to do a pranayama diary. AND I've felt my breath being quite shallow recently, so anything that can build my breath to access the full range of it would be so helpful.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

6 day a week morning month in....

I haven't written for ages, but I've learnt so much this past month, so I thought I'd share some of it...

So that morning practice is going really well. I have stuck with the program, bar one morning when I had to swap practice with A&E after a minor car accident and a sore neck. (I think I can excuse myself on that one :) The dedication and knowing that the morning practice is there to be done is really important to me. It's changed my outlook on the way I'm living my life, I have more time in the evenings, decisions about my spare time are easier to make, it gives me focus and I don't find myself beating myself up about not doing practice, I just do. It's working out for me.

Recently I have found my sitting bones.

Hidden beneath my buttocks funnily enough ;)

So in one of my last posts I mentioned aswini mudra, the contraction of the anal sphincter muscles to give a deeper forward bend.. especially in the konasanas. Still working well for me btw. But I've worked out that it's more than just the mudra, its contracting those muscles but at the same time pushing the sitting bones into the floor. Can't believe for the past 4 years I have not been planting them into the earth, seems so simple, I just don't know how I have missed it?!! Guess that's the beauty of ashtanga research. Pressing down on the sitting bones grounds you, activates apana vayu and from there allows you to rise up and out of your pelvis, straightening the spine to its full potential. Feels so good.

Its improved all of my forward seated bends. The konasanas. Ubahya padangusthasana, urdva mukha paschimottanasana. Unbelievable.

But yesterday, REVELATION!

I've been struggling with navasana since I started practicing. 4 years later and I'm still in exactly the same place as I was when I started. How crap is that..? But now I've got all this time to practice I decided to research navasana. See whether there were other postures similar in the series which use the same muscles and try and work out why it is not working for me. So I tried ubahya pandangustasana (with newly found sit bone press and bandha engagement, stayed a breath or two in it to engage the psoas, released the grip, pointed the toes and......OMG it worked! Legs straight, feet a bit more pointing towards the ceiling Kino-style than eye level, but got it, Navasana - DONE!

Can't rave enough about a daily practice. And awareness. And body RESEARCH. It's all about the research! Research on!