Lotus Holes

(image source)
My Primary is coming together faster than I can manage to absorb.  All this instruction is really streamlining the process (go figure...).  I am now binding Mari C on my own, and sometimes Supta Kurmasana.  And I finally figured out Urdhva Padmasana and Pindasana.  I've been back to the Mysore room twice already this week (to yet another teacher), and I'm planning to hit it again tomorrow.  

This teacher, who we shall call "S," is great!  She's a sweet, kind, mature woman who takes no guff and doesn't let me get away with anything.  She's the first of the three Mysore teachers to catch me skipping Marichyasana D and make me go back to do it.  She binds me in any poses I can't bind myself, then tells me, "you don't need me for that."  She stopped me yesterday after Bhujapidasana to explain that I could be jumping into Bhuja and Kurmasana.  Now, I know jumping is an option, but frankly, I haven't bothered trying because I've always felt like I've got enough on my hands with the Primary series, but I appreciated the push so said I'd try it.  And voila!  No problem.  S's no nonsense approach seems to really work for me.  Her demeanor says:  I know you can do it, so do it.  And I do.  Simple as that.

Yesterday, S helped me get my arms through my legs in Garbha Pindasana for the first time.  She sat at the top of my mat and explained to me in her loving tone how to "slide the arms through the holes" by squeegeeing the sweat from the rest of my body to use as lube.

I stared at her in disbelief, thinking, "that's kind of gross," and also, "what holes?"  But she sprayed my thighs with water and I smushed my hands through the invisible lotus holes as she tugged from the other side.  The sensation was strange, and I was completely astonished that both forearms fit between the thigh and calf -- the Primary surprises are never-ending.  S had me clasp my hands and press them into the floor rather than attempt to bring the hands to cheeks because I think we both knew that those elbows weren't going to bend, but still, it was a great success.

S has also been assisting me with standing up from the backbends.  She seems to think I can do it, and sort of "tricks" me into standing up on my own by giving me the tiniest of assists, and then retreating quickly, leaving me to either fall back on my head or stand.  And I stand.  It's pretty exhilarating, and I'm almost able to do it on my own... I just can't quite get that initial shift of weight.  Soon, very soon.

And just now, as I write this post, I'm on a spontaneous foray of yoga spending.  I just signed up for two weeks of Mysore and Pranayama practice with David Swenson in June!  That's in addition to the teacher training I'll be doing with him in October.  Skirts to the wind, I say.  I'm diving into Ashtanga, ala Swenson.


  1. Big Swenson fan here and I've never studied with him! He just seems so kind, and funny and non-dogmatic! You will, of course, post about it, I hope. Primary is full of fun, isn't it? I like Garbha but still beach when I try to roll around. Where did you get the illustration? It's perfect.

  2. I agree, Swenson's approach is so compassionate and welcoming, perfect for such a gritty, mind-expanding practice. I will absolutely be posting about the Swenson experiences.

    The Garbha P illustration is from heavymetalyogi.blogspot.com. Thanks for reminding me to credit the image! This guy's an Ashtangi. His blog seems pretty interesting, and apparently he has a collection of skeleton asana illustrations that he's working on.

  3. Hmmm... but I just noticed he hasn't posted in about a year, so maybe he's not building the collection anymore.

  4. love the illustration! your insights to discovering primary are so inspiring. i would like to commit to a daily ashtanga practice, and you are helping me find that motivation!

  5. Hi Alice - Glad to hear you're considering Ashtanga. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. The practice is strange to look at, but to actually feel the way the Primary series works around the hip joints, incrementally tugging the hips open, is pretty amazing. Not to mention the tone my abs are taking on from all the vinyasas and forward folds.

    There's also a special, gruelling quality to it. I seem to always arrive at a point somewhere in the midst of the seated sequence where I wonder if I have what it takes to make it through the rest of the series without crashing and burning, but somehow I always do. It's fortifying, in every way.

  6. The opportunity to practice with Swenson is amazing! I'm super stoked for you and you will have to keep us posted on how it goes!

    Garbha pindasana kinda bugs me. I don't sweat much and the idea of bringing a spray bottle to help me into a pose just feels like a huge interruption to my flow. I can get into it without the "lube" by cheating and inserting an arm before I come fully into lotus, then inserting the other one. But again, it bugs me. So does the rolling around. That part REALLY bugs me! I always feel like my practice flows really nicely up until that point and I never quite get that sensation back. So mostly I skip the rolling and go straight to kukutasana. My teachers would never let me get away with that though! ;)