Let me tell you, folks. It's all yoga, all the time around here. I've been keeping up with 4-6 studio classes plus 4 or 5 home practice sessions each week since the beginning of teacher training. This weekend began with a studio class and home practice on Friday, extended home practice on Saturday night, then back to the studio for a class right away this morning, then I came home, rolled out my mat again and worked on my inversions for an hour, followed up by 30 minutes of pranyama and meditation.
All this work is already cleaning up my practice. The vinyasas, especially, are going through a transformation. The Suryas we're being taught are much slower than those I had always practiced. For example, rather than jumping back from utanasana to chaturanga in one exhalation, we jump back to a high plank, inhale the shoulders forward of the wrists, then exhale to chaturanga coming onto the very tips of the toes. Also, in the Surya Bs, instead of stepping the foot between the hands and coming up to warrior I in a single inhale, we exhale the foot between the hands, then inhale the body up. It's all very slow and deliberate. At first, it was awkward, and the 6 suryas with which I begin each home practice felt like an eternity, but now I've really come to appreciate the slower, more meditative motions of the vinyasa. It's done a lot to extend my breath and strengthen the shoulders and core.
My handstand practice, on the other hand, has reached a point of stagnation. I just can't seem to get any closer to coming away from the wall, but I did a lot of handstand work today and came up with a couple of exercises that seemed to do some good things for me.
First, I just practiced several half-handstands, with the knees tucked into belly. Doing this near the wall, it was easy to just push back off of the wall and come into a stable half-handstand. I was able to hold these for at least a few breaths each, and felt the action strongly in my lower abdomen, like my belly was being sucked into my pelvis. It also helped me to find the right action in the shoulders. After this, I began a series of kicking into handstands first with both legs at once, donkey kick-style, coming down on an exhale, then kicking up on the next inhalation with the right leg, then with the left leg, then with both legs together again, holding each handstand for a few breaths, then coming down to rest in child's pose before starting the series all over again. I did this five times. After the first couple of rounds, I started to find a good rhythm, stopped thinking so much about the mechanics of the kicks, and began just inhaling the body up. It was pretty cool. Exhausting, but cool. I'll definitely be trying that again.
And finally, I have a confession to make: I failed the gluten-free challenge. My teachers would be so disappointed. I'm sorry, but I just couldn't do it. I love bread! There. I said it. I love it, and yes, I would marry it if I could. So there.
How's that for non-attachment?