Yesterday's Primary was delightful. Sooooo much better than last week.
I remembered the order of the sequence and stayed with the breath counts all the way through Purvottanasana without needing to check the book, which I still leave open on the floor at the top of my mat. I came much closer to a recognizable expression of Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, though it still feels horribly askew and I can't help but wonder what it looks like. I've been using an upright variation for Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana, variation B in Swenson's manual. My hip craves the forward bend, but my knees stubbornly refuse.
Dandasana is a deceptively challenging pose. I never employ it in my own practice apart from these Primary sessions, so it's been interesting to spend a little more time in the pose. About a year ago, my grandmother and I were discussing yoga. She was asking me lots of questions about the nature of the practice, the poses, etc, and I was trying my best to answer them, but it's really such a vast and formless thing, this yoga, so I have difficulties trying to explain it in practical ways. After summarizing the importance of the breath and focus, it occurred to me that Dandasana is an excellent illustration of the work of yoga, the purpose of the asanas in relation to the larger practice. The two of us came into Dandasana on the floor and I guided her awareness through all the many actions throughout the body required to simply sit up straight. It was far more effective than any of my verbal explanation.
Jump backs and jump throughs were much cleaner. Since attending that Ashtanga class a few weeks ago, I've been tinkering with my jump back technique. I received some advice to keep my arms straight as I bring the feet through and then lower into Chatturanga as the toes land. This is interesting because the very thing that allowed me to accomplish the jump back in the first place was learning to bend my elbows and hinge my weight forward in order to bring the hips up. So now I'm in a confused place where I alternate the straight-arm and bent-arm approaches. Yesterday I decided to stick with the bent arm approach, but sometimes, when I get it right, the straight-arm technique feels less taxing.
Chakrasana is coming along nicely. I can't express how much fun I have with this vinyasa. It makes me feel like a kid again, except when I was a kid I was too insecure and uptight to do things like this. I'm reverse-aging. I do have one question, though: how do Ashtangis stay on their mats in those gridlocked shalas? As it is now, I'm all over the place. Yesterday when I flipped over, I kicked the room divider hard and bruised the bottom of my foot. I think less momentum and more control is needed in the vinyasas to keep me from wandering too far forward or back.
I am still in the process of figuring out the breath counts of the seated sequence. I can't quite jump through and propel myself right into the poses in a single inhale just yet, but the sequence flowed more smoothly this time and I had a better idea of what I was doing. I knew which modifications I needed to take and found more suitable variations for some of the lotus and half-lotus postures.
I could not lower down in Bhujapidasana. It was so easy the first time. Now, not. What's the deal? I'll have to play with the pose in my regular practice this week and try some different things, see if I can't figure out how my entry has changed.
The finishing sequence was supremely enjoyable. That first backbend was tough, but the next two were gloriously expansive. I'm starting to appreciate Sarvangasana. It's taken four years, but it's finally happening. Lately I've been having a subtle but sensuous experience in my upper upper back during Sarvangasana and Parsvottanasana. It's a pleasant but unfamiliar sensation that tingles, for lack of a better word, across my trapezius and between the shoulderblades. It's not a stretch, exactly, but it is lovely.
And again, when I left the mat, I felt absolutely juiced. I was all abuzz for hours after I got to work, practically tweaked, like I'd had way too much coffee. Am I doing something wrong? Is this normal? Do Ashtangis always get this pumped up after practice?