Balancing on a Bottle of Portuguese Red

Had another damn good practice today.  I did not try the third class of the 3-part Primary Series at Yoga Today, as I thought I might (tomorrow, perhaps?).  Instead, I spent two good hours on the mat, focusing on the breath and sweating my ass off.  I recently decided to add a humidifier to my yoga space to help combat the winter chill and dryness.  It has definitely made a difference, and I'm finding that the surprisingly loud whirring noise it makes actually helps to insulate my space and assists in maintaining my focus.

I did several standing balancing poses today.  I love the way they work into my hips and hamstrings, especially after a few warriors.  I felt strong, and took advantage of it.  Also, the jump throughs are apparently here to stay.  I nailed it on the first attempt today, and improved upon my form throughout the rest the practice.  It's difficult to understand, at this point, how the technique seemed so confounding just a couple of days ago.  Hooray for progress!  I have found that shortening my downward dog a bit before jumping through helps tremendously.
In keeping with the balancing emphasis for my practice today, I also threw in some damn good arm balances.  I've been tempted to try jumping from downward dog into bakasana for the past couple of months.  I'm pretty sure I can do it.  For whatever reason, I haven't tried.  That's it...  I've just decided.  I'm declaring right now that tomorrow I will indeed attempt to jump into bakasana.  I will attempt it at least three times!  Or you can call me Shirley (stay tuned! and please don't call me Shirley).

Inversions have taunted me since the beginning of my practice.  Shoulderstand often gives me a tension headache, so I don't practice it often.  Bridge pose with clasped hands sometimes gives me the same headaches, though not as often, and I practice it regularly.  I've always had a problem clasping my hands behind my back and straightening my arms.  It takes enormous effort from my triceps, and lately I've been noticing a pinching sensation in my right palm when in this position.  Only recently did I begin to approach this problem by working on opening my shoulders and chest.   Also, I learned just weeks ago that I should be practicing fish pose after shoulderstand.  I overlooked that one for quite a long time.  I should be more careful, but these are the risks one takes when attempting to teach oneself.  Anyway, I did shoulderstand, plough, and ear pressure pose with little discomfort and no lingering headache today.  I felt good, so I attempted headstand, which I have only just begun to incorporate into my practice.  I lifted up about 10 inches from the wall, since I tend to get psyched out and tuck my chin for a roll when I do it in the middle of the room.  After some bouncing my heels off the wall, and wavering about, I found my balance, pointed my toes, and breathed for about 1 minute.  It became very stable and rejuvenating.  I'll be off the wall soon; I can feel it.

At the moment, I'm enjoying some cheap but delicious Portuguese red wine from the Douro region.  It smells like red delicious apples soaked in cherry juice.  The initial attack is primarily bright red fruits, maybe even a bit of generic "red fruit flavoring," like that in candies, but the mid-palate is distinctly cola.  Coke, or maybe Pepsi.  What's the difference anyway, am I right?  The finish is earthy, a bit dry, and a bit short, but pleasant.  A nice cap to the evening.
Below is the sequence I practiced today.  Each pose was held for 5-6 breaths, unless otherwise indicated in parentheses.  I'd welcome any comments, criticisms, or suggestions.

approx. 10 minutes seated meditation, awakening ujjayi pranayama
4-6 cat-cows, moving with the breath.
2 surya namaskara A's
3 surya namaskara B's
warrior I
warrior II
half moon
vinyasa, repeat other side, vinyasa.
warrior II
extended side angle
vinyasa, repeat other side, vinyasa.
warrior I, back heel raised
revolved side angle (hands in namaste)
shift forward into twisted standing balance, back leg extended, hands remain in namaste, with elbow pressing against the outer thigh of the standing leg.
lower raised leg to return to revolved side angle (1 breath)
vinyasa, repeat other side, vinyasa
warrior I, back heel raised (2 breaths)
shift forward to warrior III
lower the left hand, revolve open to half moon
lower the right hand, twist open to revolved half moon
lower the left hand, fold forward into urdhva prasarita ekapadasana
exhale, lower raised leg, fold forward.
vinyasa (Took a brief child's pose here.  This bit can be pretty intense.  Mustn't go where the breath does not lead me.), repeat on other side, vinaysa
utthita hasta padangusthasana A, B, C (one breath), and D
inhale into warrior I with lifted heel, exhale the arms down into lizard pose
tuck left shoulder under left thigh (on an inhale)
exhale, lift into eka pada koundinyasana II (has anyone else heard of this pose referred to as the "albatross"?)
vinyasa, repeat other side, vinyasa.
cresent moon (knee to the floor, hands clasped, thumb and forefinger pointing up and back)
upward dog
downward dog (three breaths)
side plank with tree legs, both sides, pushing back to down dog to rest for 3 breaths between.
push back to down dog...
jump forward to enter bakasana
jump back (more of a one-legged hop/lurch, really) to vinyasa
JUMP THROUGH (easy peasy) to seated.
wide legged forward bend
navasana, lift up, repeat. (3 times)
east stretch
vinyasa, jump through to seated
Marichyasana C (variation)
Marichyasana D (variation)
vinyasa, jump through to seated.
compass pose
lift up to eka hasta bhujasana (one breath)
shift forward into astavakrasana
shift back into eka hasta bhujasana (one breath)
repeat on other side.
bridge, arms clasped, pressing into the floor
upward bow (or wheel pose, as some seem to call it) (2 times)
roll forward, into seated forward bend B and C (5 breaths each)
shoulderstand (10 breaths)
ear pressure pose
roll forward, vinyasa.
headstand (10-15 breaths, lost count.  too pleased with myself.)
child's pose
tolasana (10 breaths)
savasana (10 minutes)

Damn good yoga.

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