Primary Friday: A Change of Pace
It's also been a nice change of pace. A large part of the effectiveness of my daily practice, as I see it, is the evaluation of body and mind that takes place during the opening Surya Namaskar. From this evaluation, I practice in a way that will best serve me in the place I am on any given day. As much as I love the creativity, expression, and presence of mind that my regular Vinyasa practice calls for, it's a relief to step on the mat every Friday and know exactly what I will face over the course of the next two hours. It allows me to focus more completely in each posture as it happens, rather than thinking about where I should go next, always ready and waiting for the practice to reveal itself.
I am beginning to commit the sequence to memory. I didn't stop to page through the book at all during my practice this time, just needed a quick peek once or twice during the seated sequence to be sure I had it right. I'm still skipping Mari D, Garbha Pindasana, and Kukkutasana, and modifying a few other postures for the sake of my knees. I'm also skipping over Supta Kurmasana for a variety of reasons, namely what I believe to be a bulging disc around L1-L2. I think Supta K. would pop the cartilage right out of my spine, so I'm not even toying around with it. There is enough forward bending in the series as it is. Interestingly, since I began to practice Primary on Fridays, Saturday has become the Day of Backbends. I really feel like I need the extension after all the lift-ups and forward folds of the Primary Series.
The standing sequence is beginning to make more sense to me, and this week I noticed that my hips felt absolutely amazing during the full vinyasa after Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana -- powerful and open. I've had major breakthroughs in Parivrtta Trikonasana practicing the pose within the Primary Series. I'm beginning to feel a glorious stretch in my mid back as I twist into this pose. I think I finally have the appropriate stance figured out. I've been overcompensating in the hips and neglecting the abdominal twist. Silly me.
Virabhadrasana I is another fundamental pose that I feel Ashtanga is illuminating particularly well. I am better able to anchor all the way back through the rear heel instead of bearing the weight in the front leg and I'm finally able to really sit my hips down into the stance without sacrificing the position of the pelvis and straining my low back.
There was a point during the seated sequence, somewhere between Janu Sirsasana and Kurmasana, when I began to feel overwhelmed. So many vinyasas! So much flexion! I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! But I continued to breath and told myself to proceed one pose at a time. It worked. My mind quieted down and I carried on without further incidence of fear or frustration.
Something mysterious happened in Baddha Konasana. I held Baddha Konasana B for at least 10 breaths because I was feeling something different, something new. I thought it must be important, so I stayed and explored the new sensations a bit more. As I've mentioned before, Baddha Konasana is not an easy pose for me. The fold forward is extremely limited, but by what I'm not exactly sure. Friday, I felt a subtle stretch very deep in the pelvis around the hip joint. I suspect it may be the pectineus awakening. I'll be spending some extra time in Baddha Konasana in the coming week to explore this event further.
Finishing was nice. Urdhva Dhanurasana was not too intense. The first time up was not as harsh as it has been, and the next two rounds felt wonderful. Sarvangasana was pleasant; I'm so glad to finally be able to enjoy this pose, though Halasana is still an uncomfortable place for me to be, claustrophobic and restricted. Sirsasana was potent, as always. My gaze did not wander up in Padmasana as it tends to do. By the time I arrived at Tolasana, my lotus had bloomed. I was able to take the full pose and stay for the full 10 breaths in comfort. It was a good practice.