Mmmm... Just finished a damn good three-hour practice, followed by a damn hot shower, currently enjoying a damn cold beer, which is soon to be joined by some damn tasty tomato, pesto, and goat cheese pizza. I think that calls for one more: Mmmmmm...
I feel good. Can you tell? That yoga stuff really works. ;)
Practice today was sweaty and seamless. No messing around. I started slow by warming up the spine, hips, and shoulders with some tabletop postures, extending the right leg, left arm, then left leg, right arm; also, drawing one knee into the chest on the exhalations and extending the leg back on the inhalations. I practiced the revolved sequence I wrote about in my last post during my standing practice, tweaking the flow and paying close attention to the placement of the hips in all the twists. Good stuff. Great hip opening and core work.
Speaking of core work, I'm still cleaning up my vinyasas, working on staying grounded through the hands and feet, trying not to shift my foundation during the course of the full vinyasa. It's tough, but the key is finding ease in the downward dog, not resisting the length of the spine or bracing against it in the shoulders. I'm also still working on the jump backs and jump throughs. The jump backs are coming along just fine. It's getting easier to work my feet through the hands without touching down, but the jump throughs are really where it's at right now. I've been taking the jumps as if I were about to lift for a handstand, getting the hips very high, bringing the legs straight through (I don't cross the ankles), and then, as of today, hovering above the floor with my legs outstretched for the exhale before setting down. I've been trying to hover at the end of the jumps for the past few days, but it wasn't happening for me until today. Admittedly, my heels still brush the floor sometimes once they get past my arms, but not nearly as often as they had been. The whole process of the jump through is slowing down. I'm gaining control and establishing solid lift in the bandhas before making my move.
Backbends today were intense. I was in a no-nonsense kind of mood, so it was 6 breaths in bridge pose, one breath to set up for urdhva dhanurasana, then 3 UDs in a row, six breaths each, with just one inhale and one exhale in between. I have a habit of taking my time between the backbends. After a big backbend, I just want to lie there and bask in the adrenalin for a minute, but I tend to waste a lot of time just lying there getting cold. I feel like it detracts from the release of savasana, which I know is fast approaching, relatively speaking, once I start my backbends.
Headstand practice today was pretty great. I lifted up, stayed for twenty long, slow breaths, and never used the wall. I've had longer stays in headstand, but today's headstand was definitely the most comfortable and stable one yet. This is very encouraging, as my headstands had been suffering this week for unknown reasons.
Guess what else I've been practicing? Shoulderstand! And I don't hate it! Yes, I'm really excited about this one. I was beginning to think I'd never be able to enjoy shoulderstands, but yet again, regular practice pays off in the end. It's about time I learned to stop doubting the benefits of my practice and wasting precious consciousness thinking about what I can't do. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: "Practice, and all is coming (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois)."