Primary Friday: Playing Hooky

 It's been quite the lazy day so far, full of snacks and naps and one very windy bike ride.  Ashtanga 2nd series is certainly having it's way with me.  I'm sleeping long hours, dreaming non-stop, and eating like a linebacker.  Last night I slept almost 12 hours straight and I cannot stop thinking about food.  Everywhere I go, it seems like someone is cooking something amazing nearby and the wind carries the wafting aroma directly to my tormented nostrils.  I'm craving red meat and french fries and mangos and beer.  Earlier today, I saw a picture of the globe and mistook it for a pizza. I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it.  Mmmmm... Earth pizza.

Normally, I'd be on my way to T's Mysore room right now, but instead I think I'll stay in today and do my practice at home.  S took me all the way to Yoganidrasana on Wednesday and, quite frankly, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.   With so many new postures to work on, my practice has become this huge, clunky thing that I'm not exactly sure how to deal with just yet.  Nobel has been discussing his own practice of 2nd series recently, to split or not to split, and I'm suddenly in a similar situation.

Here's my dilemma:  I'm fairly certain that, had I not decided to check out the Mysore classes I've been attending, I'd still be practicing Primary only.  As far as I'm concerned, my Primary could still use a lot of work, lotus modifications aside.  But I love the backbends of 2nd series and I think they're a great compliment to all the forward bending of Primary.  So I figured when I got Kapo that I'd just settle into that practice and enjoy full Primary + 2nd through Kapo for a good long while.  Then S hit me with the entire first half of 2nd series and I don't know what to do.

T told me last week that, once I included Laghu Vajrasana in my practice, I could stop Primary at Navasana and move from there into 2nd series, which is appealing since it saves me some time, but I miss the work of Bhujapidasana, Kurmasana, and Supta Kurmasana.  Also, I haven't quite mastered the rolling up to balance in Ubhaya Padangusthasana and Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana, so I don't want to skip out on that.

I've never heard of this sort of splitting of Primary and 2nd series before.  Is this customary?  In the midst of my confusion, I've been experimenting a bit in my home practice with the different combinations.  Earlier this week, before S gave me Kapo, I practiced full Primary plus 2nd through Laghu Vajrasana.  Then on Tuesday, after she gave me Kapo through Bakasana, I practiced Primary through Navasana and 2nd through Bakasana.  Then yesterday, after acquiring the leg-behind-head postures the day before, I went my own way and practiced Primary through Supta Kurmasana and 2nd through Bakasana, omitting the new poses I'd been given.  I just wasn't feeling up to trying the LBH postures on my own, and I needed a little more time to absorb the practice I'd just been given.  Today, I intend to tackle all of Primary + 2nd through Yoganidrasana just to see how it goes.  I've got the entire evening to while away, so why not? 

On a sad note, Wednesday was my last day with S.  I didn't know she'd be leaving so soon!  She made the announcement before the chant and it hit me harder than I had expected.  I've learned so much from her in so short a time.  Often, I was one of only two or three students in her class, and once I was the ONLY student, so she's invested a lot of her time and attention in my practice.  Not only that, but she seemed to particularly enjoy telling me the sweetest, most amusing stories about the old days of Ashtanga in Austin and her experiences with the members of the Jois family.  Practice with S was always a delight.  I will miss her very much.

And, of course, I'm left to wonder, what will the new teacher be like...?


  1. Wow, that's really fast pace to go through second!! My teacher, and I agree, seems to be of the mind to move on to the next asana once settled in the previous. Many people can do a lot from the beginning, but there is a lot more going on than just the muscle work. I stayed a year in Kapotasana, then was split at Eka Padajanusirasna, but then I only see my teacher a couple of times a year. If I think I'm ready I continue, but I like to go slow... Hope you enjoy it though!!

  2. Hi エスタ - Yes, very fast. I have my theories as to why my teacher dumped so much on me so quickly: 1) She was excited to have a student with enthusiasm for the practice (Ashtanga isn't very popular in the Austin yoga scene), or 2) She felt rushed to give me 2nd because she knew she was only teaching the class for the spring season and wanted to leave me with much to work on.

    Either way, I'm glad she was so generous with 2nd series because it's been truly amazing working with the backbends. They have really shaken me up in a good way. Last night I practiced full Primary + 2nd through Yoganidrasana and, to my surprise, it felt just about right.

  3. Hello Megan,
    for what this is worth, I have heard that in the "old days", it was customary for people, once they got second series postures, to do primary up to Supta Kurmasana and then do second series up to whatever postures they have been given. But this way of practicing seems to have been "phased out" by Sharath (or whoever): Right now, the standard procedure seems to be to do full primary and then second up to whatever postures one has been given. Which, as you know, is what I have been doing.

    Welcome to the having-a-dilemma-about-splitting club :-)

  4. Hi Nobel - Thanks for answering my question. Supta Kurmasana seems like a better place to transition into 2nd than does Navasana, but I find that I prefer to do the entire Primary and add my 2nd series postures. It is a long practice (clocked it at 2 hrs 15 minutes from Suryas to Savasana last night), but I feel like all the subtle core work of the second half of Primary is too important to skip. I like to think I'll be able to settle into this practice, doing Primary and 2nd up to Yoganidrasana, but who knows what the new teacher will throw at me...

  5. "Ashtanga isn't very popular in the Austin yoga scene"...

    I beg to differ. South, yes, North, it's got its groove on. Does it compete with drop-in style vinyasa classes? Probably not, but there's a solid group who practices daily and I'd choose that over any jammed Bikram room!

    S was my first teacher, by the way!

  6. Hi Liz - Fair enough. I never venture north of downtown, so it's entirely possible that there Ashtangis yonder way, but I'd hardly call that Austin (just kidding... sort of).

    Many of the yogis I talk to tell me that they practiced Ashtanga for a while and loved it, but don't do it anymore for whatever reason. There are literally 3-5 people, TOPS, in nearly every Mysore class I attend. A great many others are intimidated by Mysore style in general, and as S says, "it's a hard practice."

    I gather that S is a lot of people's first teacher. An Austin establishment, she is.

  7. Crestview isn't that North... Justin Lane and Burnet? Come on, that's not NORTH, north Austin! Not like it's Round Rock or something! Morning classes are from 10-18 people regularly, afternoon are the same. Sundays are so packed there's often a queue. People quit because they take on too much too soon or simply don't want to dedicate the time and effort. It's also a solitary practice in ways that put some people off (no chit chatting during class, no lobby to congregate in before "class", etc).

    It is a hard practice. I've done it for 9 years now and many I practice with have similar stories. Of course, there are always the transitory ones, but people are flakes.

  8. Ha! Just joking with you, Liz. I wasn't sure how north you meant. I'll grant you that Crestview is indeed Austin. But now you've got me curious about your shala. YY?

    It's funny that the things that seem to put most people off from the practice are exactly the qualities that draw me (and most Ashtangis, I'm guessing) to it. The minimal socialization, the challenge, and the solitary nature of the practice... what does that say about us?

  9. Oh! Nevermind about the shala, Liz. I found it, and I'm intrigued...

  10. Good...

    I heard YY has a fairly decent Mysore group, but I don't know anything about it. I would guess it's more drop in than our shala, but who knows. Cheaper, for sure, but you get what you pay for. heh.