Primary Friday... and Saturday?
With each week of this Ashtanga experiment, I am more and more tempted to hop the Ashtanga train and see where it takes me. I love the Primary series... it's a real journey that stirs up a whole spectrum of emotion and sensation every time. Seriously, the highs and lows I experience in this practice are remarkable, but when I consider going full on Ashtanga, I find that I'm not yet ready to give up my regular free form Vinyasa flow. Can I balance the two? It occurred to me that I could practice Ashtanga at home and try to take more flow classes to balance it out and keep up the lower body strength. I'm just not sure I have that kind of time.
This week's Primary was wonderful. It's amazing how much perspective can shift in just five breaths. In a single Downward Dog during Surya Namaskara, my attitude can, does, and did evolve completely from self-pitying and pathetic to easy, quiet contentment. I observed it all, noted the impermanent nature of my moods with amusement, and carried on. Lather, rinse, repeat, and that's the practice.
And then there are the postures. Parivrtta Parsvakonasana was very different this week. I wondered when I'd feel a shift toward stability in this awkward pose. I'm still using the variation with the palms pressed together, but the twist was noticeably deeper and it's feeling much better in the hips. I was able to comfortably ground through the back heel on both sides for the first time. The Prasarita Padottanasanas were a treat. I'm still modifying Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana by remaining upright, holding the foot with the opposite hand, and then reaching behind the back with the other hand to hold the forearm. It feels great this way, so I don't mind that it might be a while before I reach the full pose.
I included some more of the postures I'd been skipping over, including a modified version of Garbha Pindasana and the substitution of Tolasana for Kukkutasana instead of passing it over entirely. So, in total, I skipped Janu C, Mari D, Supta Kurmasana, and Setu Bandhasana. All other postures were accounted for.
The finishing sequence was nice until everything fell apart in Urdhva Padmasana, though it was better than last week and I came away with a little realization: chin lock. The use of jalandhara bandha helped stabilize my neck to a point where I felt safe balancing on the tops of the shoulders without the support of the hands. I tried going for Pindasana, but rolled out pretty much immediately and moved right into Matsayasana. Another new pose this week was Baddha Padmasana, though I am not able to bind. I modified by holding opposite forearms behind the back, and the pose felt absolutely lovely. I stayed in my lotus through Baddha Padmasana, Padmasana, and Tolasana without discomfort. Even with just one Primary a week, my hips are noticeably more open.
Savasana was deep and peaceful and felt like hours, but when I came out I was surprised to find I had only been resting for five minutes. I have not been experiencing the same buzzed effect I noticed early on in this experiment post-Primary. My energies are balanced, and I'm already seeing the character-building qualities this practice has to offer. Sometimes it feels like a long haul, but if you just keep moving with the breath, you'll make it through.