Practice Report: Lotus Blossoms and Drop Backs

So far, it's been a really nice week of practice.  Sunday practice is always especially nice for two reasons:  first, I teach all day beginning in the early morning, but after my first class I go straight home and have just enough time to enjoy my full practice, shower, and have a snack before I head out for my afternoon teaching spree.  It really fuels me for my classes.  Also, it just feels so darn good after a rest day to get back on the mat.  Monday I had a very clean, efficient practice in J's room.  I'm beginning to feel a part of this darling community of scrappy, determined yogis.  The past two days have been home practice and, since the lotus has been feeling good, I've been adding on the next two Intermediate postures:  Supta Vajrasana and Bakasana A & B.

Both knees are healing well.  I've been practicing all lotus and half lotus postures except for Urdhva Padmasana and Pindasana without any discomfort.  The addition of lotus legs to Marichyasana B and D is taking some getting used to.  I lose the wrist bind on the left side in Mari B when I take the right leg into lotus.  In Mari D, I lose much of the twist and there's no binding to speak of so I've been alternating, one day with lotus legs for the hips, and the next day without lotus legs for the twist, slowly bridging the gap.  It's strange: last week, I wondered with despondency if I would ever be able to do lotus again, and now it's suddenly more comfortable than ever.  Of course, I am proceeding with caution, but it's tentatively looking good. 

For the past couple of weeks I've been refining my drop backs by reducing the number of breaths for each round.  I had been dropping back in two breaths, and then rocking twice before standing up.  Then J asked me on Monday if I've tried doing it in one breath without the rocks, which surprised me because I didn't think I was ready for that.  I told her as much, but the implications of her inquiry planted the seeds of curiosity.  Yesterday in my home practice I gave it a try and surprised myself.  I managed three rounds of drops and stands in a row without rocking or walking the hands in.  Just exhale back, inhale up.

My Intermediate postures are coming along.  I am SO close to binding Pasasana on my own.  Tuesday, I was able to hook the tips of my middle fingers on the first side which, I suppose, is just barely a bind, technically speaking.  Krounchasana is feeling quite a bit better.  For a while there, my straight leg was rotating out pretty badly despite my efforts to roll it in, but my outer hips are suddenly more open than ever, so that tendency seems to have disappeared.  My energy levels appear to have normalized after the last two weeks of an obvious downturn.  I'm able to forge ahead through the belly backbends of Intermediate and into Ustrasana without pausing for rest.  Laghu and Kapo still demand a few preparation breaths, but I'd rather approach those two with precision than hurry through.

Kapo has suffered this week.  I think perhaps I have not been as patient with the hang back because it seems these past few days that my hands are having to walk a long road to get to the feet.  Kapo B is still asking for more extension in the shoulders than I have to give at this time.  Also, my forearms are really tight for some reason, so my wrists just won't stay down.  But the backbend itself is feeling very good, none of that eye popping heat in the low back that came with the first explorations of Kapo.

One thing that is eternally confounding me is the half-handstand.  I can perform this maneuver in and of itself without a problem, but in the context of the practice, I can't do it.  The exit from Utkatasana and the on-the-knees backbends of Intermediate are always a little clunky despite my best efforts (as you can see in the video in this post), with the exception of a few rare and glorious moments.  I know, mechanically speaking, that my hips simply need to come further forward over the shoulders.  I just can't seem to get them there.  However, never one to take things lying down, I've been making myself use the cross-legged jump through during my practice, even though it's not as clean as the straight-leg, in order to build strength and give myself ample opportunity for success.  It's actually been kind of fun, like a game, playing with the cross-legged jump throughs.  I alternate the cross of the ankles each time and try to hang at the top of the inhale for as long as I can, which isn't long, but it's keeping the practice interesting.

Today will be another home practice and then Primary only tomorrow in T's room.  T's free Friday Mysore is nearing an end and there are only four classes left on my discount class package purchase.  As it happens, those are likely to be used up about a week before the two weeks of Mysore with Swenson.  After that, I'll probably spend a while practicing exclusively at home and decide if I have the desire and the finances to purchase more classes.  At this time, it's looking unlikely, but we'll see what happens.

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