Had a lovely home practice last night after teacher training. My body felt light, my vinyasas were floaty, and my breath was strong and steady. It was very much what I needed, even if it meant I wouldn't be getting a lot of sleep... which it did, and I didn't. But it's fine, because the practice left me feeling strong and centered.
The tweaks in my back are beginning to smooth over. The mysterious crunching and stiffness have subsided, though it stills pinches from time to time if I'm not being careful, particularly when I'm teaching. I experienced my deepest paschimottanasana ever last night after my urdhva dhanurasanas. My forehead was practically resting on my ankles, and I wasn't pulling against any tension. My body just folded in half. Very cool.
I've been refining my warriors, trying to really lift up out of the hips with a straight spine without splaying my ribs, and they're feeling much better. My headstands have become nearly effortless, a very meditative experience. I've begun to focus on cultivating a deep, loud breath in my headstands and other inversions. It feels as though my lung capacity is somehow increased being upside down. I know inversions are supposed to be good for the respiratory system, among the many other benefits, but I'm not sure why. Is it simply the reversal of gravity, the lungs being decompressed?
Free handstands, on the other hand, are still evading me. I just can't find it without first pushing off the wall. I lieu of lots of handstands, I've been focusing more on floating, strengthening the root and navel locks. Jumping into pike position, with straight legs parallel to the floor, and shakti kicks, with knees pulled into the torso, has become a regular preparatory practice of mine. I had never been able to find the pike jumps before, but recently they're starting to happen for me. I credit my regular practice of sirsasana A and B with these new developments.
It's interesting to revisit my full ashtanga-inspired home practice just once or twice each week, rather than plodding through the whole thing every day. It allows me to really feel the effects of all the work I've done for teacher training -- the hours held in plank pose, the hundreds of vinyasas, the meticulous breakdown of the elements of the asanas. My practice has become very slow, very precise. No more flying through the transitions. I'm savouring every moment, quietly and faithfully following the breath.