Today's practice was an epic three hours on the mat. I guess I needed it after my "rest day" yesterday, which means no asana practice but a very long night at work. Some interesting things are happening in my practice lately. My hips and shoulders are opening in ways I didn't know were possible for me. I'm moving beyond the walls. And the core strength I've been developing has turned my practice into a whole new animal.
My standing sequence today was filled with balancing poses, which I ordered differently than I normally do to spice things up a bit. I also tried some longer holds whenever I felt like it, taking an extra 2 or 3 breaths here and there when I found a sweet spot or something I wanted to explore in a pose. My left knee has been talking to me for the past week, so today I really focused on not hyper-extending, keeping a microbend in the knee and the muscles around the joint fully engaged. I never thought I was a hyper-extender, but I'm beginning to see it happening in the left leg because of laziness in the thigh. Gotta watch that.
Parivritta trikonasana has been pretty okay my last couple of practices. Definite improvement, though still not an agreeable position for me. I've been taking a few breaths to come into the pose, first squaring the hips, then working the forward fold and grounding into the feet, and only then slowly twisting at the waist with my top hand on my hip before reaching up, if I reach up at all. Baby steps.
I've been spending lots of time (10-12 breaths... is that a lot of time?) in eka pada rajakapotasana with a forward fold, allowing the hips plenty of time to open up. Also still working on the variation with the back foot in the elbow. Today I reached back with the my opposite hand to manually secure the foot in the elbow, and it was worth it. The pose was much more stable without having to worry about the foot slipping from the elbow crease, and I was better able to square my shoulders to the front, though there's much work to be done in that regard.
There was a tiny breakthrough with my seated jump backs today. I tried placing my hands wide, each hand only halfway on the mat, to see if I could get my feet through this way. Success! Sort of. Yes, I was able to swing my feet back through my very wide hands. I did touch down for a second before jumping back, but I didn't use my feet to assist with the jump back. It wasn't pretty, but it was educational. I felt what needs to happen in my core, specifically with uddiyana bandha, and the roundness in the back.
I brought inversions back into the mix today after a few days of no inverting, and I must say... my handstands were a little rusty. I made it up, but my elbows kept bending, and my feet came to the wall hard every time. Maybe I was tired. It was toward the end of a long practice.
My headstand, on the other hand, was quite excellent. I stayed for probably 4 minutes, though I didn't have a view of a clock, so I can't be sure. But it was comfortable, and pretty stable after a few seconds of wobbling when I first lifted up. I kept my core fully engaged, and boy, was I feeling it. You could have cracked a coconut on my stomach when I came out of that headstand (well, probably not... No, definitely not, but it felt that way at the time).