Post-Moon Day Practice and the Year of Swenson

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 I had a really great practice last night in J's room after resting for the moon day on Tuesday.  Primary was fantastic, jump backs were better, and my Intermediate poses are coming right along.  I almost bound Pasasana on both sides without assistance.  I couldn't quite get a secure bind, but the tips of my middle fingers remained in contact throughout my stay in the pose.  It's progress.  Another point of note:  I practiced all lotus postures on both sides for the first time since the right knee imploded.  And it felt okay!  Not great, but certainly not painful.  Hooray for healing!

Maybe it was the extra rest day, but last night I finally felt my strength returning.  For the past couple of weeks, I've been struggling with my upper body strength.  There has been a distinct lack of ligthness in my vinyasas, and I suspect it has something to do with all the backbending.  My front body is opening so much that I seem to have lost some of the ability to contract very tightly in the jump backs.  It's a trade off.

To address this, I've begun to add the ultra-macho extra Chaturanga into the vinyasas, at least during the Surya Namaskar.  It's like adding 20 pushups to the practice.  I'm also trying to be extra-conscious of my shoulder alignment during load bearing activities, engaging in the right places, recruiting the lats and not overusing the chest or anterior deltiods.  It's not a lot, but every little bit helps.

Another more obvious reason for my declining upper body strength is the fact that I haven't been keeping up with my weekly push-ups and pull-ups routine.  I used to do 50-60 pull-ups and 100 push-ups about once a week.  I began this custom when I first started to practice vinyasa yoga because I wanted to be able to move through the vinyasas with ease and maintain my breath.  And, of course, arm balances -- I wanted those.  But when T and S started me in on 2nd series, I tapered off and eventually quit with the strengthening routine because I knew I'd never bind Pasasana or reach my feet in Kapo if I kept building all that muscle.  Now, however, I'm wondering if it isn't time to pick it back up.

One month from today is the start of my first Swenson adventure, two weeks of morning mysore and pranayama with David and Shelley.  It might be a jolt getting up to practice at 6am every day for two weeks after practicing almost exclusively in the afternoon.  I should try to ease myself into that the week prior so it's not such a shock to the system.  Also, as some of you may remember, I signed up a while ago for a week-long Level 1 Ashtanga teacher training with Swenson which will be taking place in October.  This week I happened to notice that there is also a Level 2 training being offered.  It's an additional two weeks which, all told, makes it three straight weeks of intensive study with Swenson.  I'm in, and this training will be meet nearly half of the requirements for my 500-hour teaching certification.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity and I am SO excited to get into the nitty gritty and work with the man whose book planted the very first seeds of intrigue nearly ten years ago.


  1. Hello Megan,
    thanks for sharing. What is the ultra-macho extra chaturanga in the vinyasas?

    Wow, 50-60 pull-ups and 100 push-ups in addition to your present practice? Even I wouldn't do that! And I consider myself pretty sado-masochistic :-)

    My experience is that, unless you are splitting, you shouldn't have to worry about losing a lot of upper-body strength (all those JTJBs in primary should take care of upper-body strength maintenance). But this might just be me: As I mentioned in a previous comment, I think we have different body types, which might need different levels of maintenance. But still, 50-60 pull-ups and 100 push-ups seems a bit much...

  2. Hi Nobel - The "macho" variation of the vinyasa is to come back through chaturanga after urdhva mukha svanasana, then press back and up to adho mukha. It's actually quite a bit more heating than the standard variation. Generally, I only do them this way if I don't have a lot of time and need to warm up fast.

    As for the push-up/pull-up routine, I had only been doing it once a week or even once every two weeks until recently, when I stopped doing it altogether. Still, I suppose it is a lot in combination with the Ashtanga practice. I just don't understand why I'm finding the jump backs so difficult all of a sudden. Maybe it's just a phase of growth. My energy must be needed elsewhere.

  3. that is ultra macho indeed.

    YOu're practicing with Swenson soon?? So exciting. I hope you'll share these sessions.

    And oh, please say hi to David for me. Tell him it's the girl who COULDN'T do her handstand to save her life.

  4. i forgot to add the girl (me) is from singapore. i recently attended his workshop at pure yoga :)