I had a damn good and much needed practice today. I worked into all the shoulder tension I've built up this week with lots of binds, and stretched out the hips with a whole lot of warriors and twists.
Standing was good. I opted for some longer holds in the standing balancing poses, especially ardha chandrasana. I get such a nice stretch in the inner thigh and groin area from this asana, especially when I move into ardha chandra chapasana (the name of which I just learned, thanks to Emma at The Joy of Yoga).
I've been practicing the utthita hasta padangusthana sequence religiously this week, A, B, C, and D. C is the one that kills me. In the past, I've only spent one exhale in this posture, but I'm currently working on extending that to at least one full breath cycle. It's tough, what can I say? The knee of my standing leg needs to bend a little to sustain this version of the pose, and the heat comes quickly. I've always saved my strength for variation D, with the leg extended straight ahead, hands on the hips, but I think I'm ready to build on C a little more.
The seated twists were grueling today, but I needed to be wrung out, so I went through the usual set of marichyasana A, counter twist maintaining the bind, marichyasana C, and ardha matsyendrasana. Jump backs were pretty good today. My determination has increased since I've learned that I can, in fact, do it. Sometimes the motion is torturously slow, but if I stay focused, I can do it. Today I found myself grunting a little during the more extended jump back attempts... not very attractive ;). I need to relax in the throat, but it takes so much strength in the chest that my neck and throat tense up in the spirit of the effort. They're trying to help, I think, but it's just getting ugly.
I practiced several inversions today. I came into a tripod headstand from prasarita padottanasana A during my standing sequence, then a brief bakasana, then back to a tripod to return to prasarita padottanasana. I did another set of bakasana to tripod headstand transitions later on my way to the floor. My headstands are really coming along. I still practice my extended supported headstand close to the wall, but the tripod headstands are usually spontaneous, and just five or six breaths, so I don't need the wall for these.
I practiced shoulder stand, which felt especially good today; all that shoulder opening must have helped. Then about 15 minutes of handstand practice, which is getting better. I'm gaining control, and learning to lengthen through the tailbone, learning that this action is all bandhas. After handstands and a child's pose, I spent 25 breaths in a supported headstand, which was very nice, indeed. Lots of time spent upside down.
There are just two weeks left of the spring semester, so I'll have a two week break between the spring and summer semesters at the end of the month. I intend to spend a great deal of it on my mat, in preparation for teacher training. Already, I'm finding myself observing my practice in a different way, wondering how I would communicate all the many little points and motions I use to move from one asana to the next, and to keep my mind focused on the breath, and even if these are things worth communicating. These, of course, are pointless thoughts. All I need to do for now is practice, and wait.