Last night's class at Black Swan was lovely. The students were focused, and all did especially well working at their own edge. I am having more fun teaching, and the energy in the room has been really good these past few weeks. I think I can say that last night was the first time I have not left the studio feeling emotionally exhausted after teaching a class. I had a good time. Afterward, a young woman approached me and mentioned that it was her first time doing yoga. I was so happy for her, and impressed with the way she handled herself. It must have showed on my face. She saw my reaction and revealed that she had "done a little pilates." That might explain it. I don't know much about pilates, but she practiced with steady concentration and admirable compassion toward herself, two very advanced elements of the practice, in my opinion. I hope that she continues to develop her practice.
As for my practice, it's evolving. This afternoon I was reflecting on how it's changed over the past several months, particularly since YTT. It's become more fluid, more focused. I rarely reach for my towel or water bottle. My breath has slowed. I've been taking for granted the strength I've gained, forgetting that much of the reason my practices used to run so long is because I spent a lot of time in recovery. I don't linger too long in downward dog between sides or sequences, just long enough to observe and reconnect, in part because I don't have that much time to spend on my mat anymore, but also because I've gotten stronger and more efficient with my practice.
For months, my daily practice was built on essentially the same structure, resembling the Ashtanga primary series on steroids in many ways. I switched it up occasionally, but not often. These days, the sequences I practice are different every day. I am playing with new poses and ways to sequence them more often, both for my own development and for my growth as a teacher. This experimentation means that I spend a little bit more time falling out of poses when I practice, collapsing in a sweaty heap on my mat, which is pretty great if you ask me. The growth stagnates if we fail to meet a new challenge every now and then.
I am more deeply exploring the bandhas, honing in on mula bandha and uddiyana bandha with extra floating work and inversions. While I am still working my handstands and forearm stands by the wall, I can reliably balance for 3-5 breaths without the support of the wall, which is improvement. The handstands feel straighter, more supported, and downright easy when I find that perfect position, I just can't seem to find it often enough without first touching a heel to the wall to feel confident trying it in the middle of the room. However, I seem to have gained new awareness in the uddiyana bandha region, and it might have something to do with the incorporation of kapalabhati into the daily routine for the past couple of months. It's a powerful practice.
Tonight, I'm planning to get on the mat and spend some extra time working with bound postures to open my kinked shoulders. I've also got a fun new standing balancing sequence in mind that I am excited to try, plus a little pincha mayurasana action in there somewhere. It's going to be great, even if it's not. That's yoga.