My practice today consisted of parts I and II of the 3-part Ashtanga primary series led by Adi Amar at Yoga Today. I've been thinking more about experimenting with the traditional Ashtanga sequences lately, and I thought Adi would offer a nice introduction...
On second thought, I suppose Ashtanga and I have been introduced... just improperly, perhaps. My first endeavor into yoga began with a purchase about eight years ago, which consisted of a sticky mat, The Woman's Book of Yoga and Health, by Linda Sparrow, and David Swenson's Ashtanga Yoga, "The Practice Manual." I reached for the Swenson first. Needless to say to those of you who've seen it, as a naive aspiring yogini, I was intimidated by Swenson's book. It was not at all what I had expected to see. Nevertheless, I began at the beginning, with Surya Namaskara A. It was hard. And my mat was anything but sticky. Downward dog was a nightmare. I put both the books and the mat away for the next 5 years (Give me a break. I was young, and fickle).
Back to my practice: It was damn good yoga. The classes with Adi were really fun, AND... I nailed my first jump through! Not that my feet didn't brush the mat. They did, but not until they were well through my arms and past my hips. I lowered myself with control. A few times. I was delighted, but it was bound to happen, I suppose, with as many jump throughs as the class called for. I don't think I've ever tried it that many times in one practice. I hate to mess with the flow of the vinyasa, so I usually just give-it-a-go and be done with it. Also, I don't normally incorporate as many vinyasas once I arrive at the seated portion of my practice (A fact that may indeed change after today. I enjoyed maintaining a decent sweat throughout the seated portion, and I foresee that during my more poorly planned practices, it will give me time to decide what to do next, rather than sit there quizzically on my mat). Each part was about 51 minutes long, and consisted of 3 Surya Namaskara A's, and 2 (or 3?) Surya Namaskara B's. Then a standing sequence of triangle, revolved triangle, extended side angle, warrior I, warrior II, utkatasana, parsvottanasana, utthita hasta padangusthasana variations, and some prasarita padottanasana variations (though not in that order).
The seated portions were where these classes really shined. Adi was persistent with the lift ups and jump throughs, and led me through some bound seated twists that really brought some good internal heat. I had never done the supta konasana-rolling-forward-into-upavishta konasana transition before, and I must say, it was hilarious. I'll have to work on that to bring down the hilarity level before I try that one in public (what am I saying? I never go out in public!).
Looking through the Swenson book now and comparing the primary series, I think she did a good job incorporating most of the standing poses, offering variations, and breaking down the series into three separate classes, though I have not yet tried part III... maybe tomorrow, though I think I'd rather lead my own practice tomorrow. Perhaps I'll do both.
On a side note, I had a bizarre dream today about a swarm of miniature mice infesting my apartment. They were really quite adorable, and not at all threatening. They were, however, crawling on the walls and continually scurrying across my path on the floor, causing me considerable agitation at the thought of crushing the cute little buggers under my feet and getting blood and fur all over the carpet. In response, I attempted with futility to gather all the mice into a large cup, flicking them gently into the mouth of the cup with my hand. There were far too many to gather them all. Finally, I thought it better to simply relinquish my home to the tiny mice and take my meaningless existence somewhere else.