Standing was really nice, no twinge in the back during Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, which was a great relief. That pinching in my back was beginning to worry me. Last week, J told me to bring my chin to my shin and start looking up toward the foot in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana rather than forehead to shin and gaze to the floor as I usually do. At first, I had my reservations. I thought it might make it harder, but in fact gazing up seems to make my balance rock steady. It's especially helpful in the transition between UHP A and UHP B because I don't have to move my gaze as I stand up from the fold.
The seated sequence was interesting. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana was curiously deep on the second side. As gross as this visual may be, I probably could have licked my right foot if I wanted to. My left heel was wedged way up into my abdomen. Good thing I practiced in the morning before any sizeable meals. I can only imagine... ugh. The Marichyasanas were great. Marichy A was an effortless fold and Marichy C on the second side came with a very strong opening sensation in left outer hip.
I stopped at Supta Kurmasana to indulge my recent craving for hip openers by exploring the Dwi Pada Sirsasana entry. I failed. Miserably. But I did relish in the preparations: rock-the-baby, archer variations, compass variations... all the good stuff. I know I keep saying this, but it's clear that I'm going to need to spend some extra time freeing up my hip joints if I want to progress any further in Intermediate.
Speaking of Intermediate, my chunk of 2nd series was great today. Shalabasana was light and strong. I slid into Bhekasana without any hangups in the knees or shoulders, and Laghu Vajrasana was so deep that my head touched down close to the hairline. Kapo A felt good. Kapo B, not so good. I landed Bakasana B on the first try, even in my sweaty legs and tiny shorts, though it took some valiant effort to stay afloat.
Things were going so well I decided to record my finishing backbends again to have a look at the evolution of the drop back. For the past few weeks I've been working on not pausing or rocking between drops or stands: exhale hands to the floor, inhale to standing, and exhale right back down again. It's on and off, but most days I manage to get at least three in a row before stumbling or needing an extra breath. Today I think I managed 5 in a row pretty smoothly before calling it quits. I still feel rushed dropping back in a single exhale and often don't land in a short enough stance to make the standing part easy, but it's coming along.
After practice, I took an oil bath followed by a delicious, hearty meal. Tomorrow morning is my first foray with Swenson. I'm looking forward to it and hope I can manage to get to sleep at a reasonable hour so as not to be creaky and weak in the morning.