Primary Friday: Growing Pains

(Strange image found here.  What's Nemo doing in Mysore?)
 I had a good Primary practice yesterday, though T continues to ignore me.  It's not her fault.  She's had lots of newbies showing up and they keep her pretty busy.  I suspect I may have outgrown T's room, but I keep going because, well, it's free and there is a chance that I might get some help crossing my ankles in Supta Kurmasana or a firm push in Baddha Konasana one of these days.

It's a bit awkward at times, though, because there are so many beginners and they spend a fair amount of time standing on their mats, bewildered and wide-eyed, watching those of us who know the practice (which is often myself and maybe one or two others).  And now T has rearranged the room so that the beginners congregate in a group behind the experienced practitioners, so it really feels like we're performing.  I know I shouldn't mind, but it makes me feel strange to know I'm being watched.  Of course, it's entirely possible that it's just my imagination, but I don't think so.

The weirdest part is when people compliment my practice afterwards or express that they wish they could breathe/vinyasa/balance or whatever like I do.  I never know what to say.  The teacher in me wants to give a mini-lecture on how all of that is beside the point and that strength and grace only comes as a by-product of years of dedication to the practice... but I know that's not what they want to hear so I usually just smile and say, "Thanks."

The past couple of practices, I've felt an unfamiliar twinge in my lower back on the second side of Parivrtta Parsvakonasana.  It's a sharp and hot sensation that comes when I first move into the twist, but fades after a couple of breaths.  I'm still healing an unnamed lumbar spinal injury from YTT last year (probably bulging discs) that I originally feared might prevent me from practicing Ashtanga, but in fact seems to have been nearly healed by the practice.  I think this sharpness in the twist may have something to do with this injury finally firming up.  It does not reappear in the later twists, so I'm not terribly concerned.

Marichyasana D has become my new favorite pose, so confronting and powerful.  I'm still binding by myself, in spite of the fact that I think I may have picked up those few pounds I shed during the move.  I can't be sure since I left the scale with he-who-shall-not-be-named, but it feels like my lady-pooch is back in full effect.  My right knee has begun to express reservations in the second side of Mari D.  I've been practicing the full pose anyway, just very carefully with a keen awareness of sensation in the knee joint.  There's a fine line there between what feels like a good stretch and what could become another injury.  Must be diligent in my observation so as not to cross that line.  Last night I spent some time on the floor giving my knees and hips some love.  First, several minutes in Virasana which was painful at first but slowly turned to sweet release.  Then Mandukasana, Upavishta Konasana, and Baddha Konasana.  Strong stuff.  I should practice longer holds in these postures more often.

Since I did not get to practice on Thursday and practiced Primary-only yesterday, I'll have to break with tradition and throw down for a full practice today.  I'm still not sure how far to go in my practice with Swenson in the coming week.  Should I just keep going until he stops me or I should ask before I move into Pasasana?  I seem to recall Patrick saying something in the comments a while back about practicing Primary only on the first day.  Is this customary?  I've never worked with such a senior teacher before.  Though my impressions of Swenson are of the kindness and compassion of his methods, I am feeling intimidation at the depth of his experience setting in.


  1. Hello Megan,
    Thanks for sharing your practice. For months, I had this issue with Mari D on the second side, where my right knee would seem to lift up of its own accord whenever I get into the posture, contributing to the instability in the knee joint. Recently, Kino advised me that "For you personally, I think you can keep your knee on the ground by leaning the weight forward and controlling the posture with the bandhas in Mari D."

    Keeping the knee on the ground the whole time helps to protect the knee by minimizing knee instability. Kino's advice was directed at me personally, but I thought I'd share, as you might find it helpful too.

    I've never studied with Swenson before (although I have studied with his brother Doug, who has moved away from Ashtanga, and started his own brand of vinyasa yoga), but with Kino, I just keep going all the way till Pincha (and she never stopped me!). So, I'm guessing the thing to do with Swenson would be to keep going until he stops you; I mean, the worse that can happen is that he'll stop you at such-and-such posture, and then you'll just do as he says :-) But this is just my two cents'.

  2. Lady-pooch! BAH! Thinking of you. Can't wait to hear all about what you thought of Swenson and how your journey goes :) Hope you get a lot out of this. Plus, maybe I have been living in a cave, but I just was reading YJ since Austin was featured and didn't realize Swenson is from Austin. Cool for you guys over there! Glad California doesn't have all the good ones ;)