Swenson Adventure: Days 1 & 2

Days 1 and 2 of the two-week Swenson adventure have come to pass and I have just one thing to say at this juncture:  I'm pooped!  The practice room is a hot, steamy mess of beet red faces and slick, sweaty mats.  The first day was really rough.  With my heat sensitivities, I thought I might die right there on my Manduka, but somehow I survived and went back this morning for more.

Yesterday's practice is sort of a blur.  I do remember that I was dripping sweat by the first Surya B and praying someone would open a damn window.  When I finally arrived at sweet Savasana, I put a towel over my face and I cried.  That's right --  I was so happy to be at rest that I CRIED.  Tears of joy in Savasana.  That's never happened before.

I received several helpful adjustments.  Both Shelley and David came to me in Downward Dog to have me step my feet a little wider and root more strongly into the heels, something I tend to forget to do when I'm hanging out in Adho Mukha.  David gave me yet another instruction to tuck my floating ribs.  That makes... what?  Maybe the hundredth time I've been reminded about my flaring ribs and I still forget.  It's a long-term project. 

He came by to ask me about my knees in Marichyasana D, must have seen the procedural, deliberate nature with which I enter the lotus postures.  When I said they were "both a little dodgy," he told me not to bind unless the lotus knee was completely comfortable.  That was kind of a bummer because I've grown to love the solidity of that pose when it's all bound up -- everything secured in it's place.  But, of course, I'll take his advice.  Shelley advised me in Supta Padangusthasana B to "make it more about the hip, less about the hamstring" because Primary is so full of hamstring stretches and the adductors need to be released for safety of the lotus postures.  She didn't say that last bit about the adductors, but it makes perfect sense.

Surprisingly, I received no adjustments in my Intermediate poses except for a repositioning of my head in Parsva Dhanurasana. If you've been reading recent posts, then you'll know I had been unsure of how far to take my practice in Swenson's presence.  I decided to take it to Kapo for the first week, unless, of course, David or Shelley nudge me forward.  Wouldn't that be exciting?  Next week I might try to go to Bakasana and see what happens.

I am pleased to say that this morning's practice was considerably less brutal.  Still hot, but the energy of the room was much calmer, more orderly. And I was mentally prepared for the heat.  David came by to adjust the width of my stance in various standing postures, shorter in Parivrtta Trikonasana, longer in Virabhadrasana I.  He gave me a fantastic assist in Supta Kurmasana.  My feet stayed behind my head for the first time all the way through to a clean exit and I have no idea how he did it.  I had plenty of time while I waited for the assist to work my torso through my legs and get my spine nice and long, so that may have helped.  I don't usually wait more than a few breaths for an assist.  Normally, I hate to lose my rhythm but in that kind of heat, I'm happy to take a little break.

The highlight of today's practice was Kapotasana, hands down.  I went into it once on my own before David appeared and asked if I'd like to try it again.  Glad for the opportunity, I repeated the posture.  He assisted by grabbing my wrists on the dive and took my hands directly to my heels!  It was so incredible that I gave a little yelp!  It must have worried him because he asked a few times if I was okay.  My back always cracks in an unsettling way when I break new ground in my backbends.  It's scary and exciting, but not painful so I take it as part of the process.

This post is getting long, so I'll have to elaborate on the pranayama practice another time.  I just want to say that my impression of David in person is exactly that of my impression of him through his work.  I felt immediately as though I'd studied with him for years.  He and Shelley both conduct themselves in a beautifully energetic yet grounded manner.  Their adjustments are light but assertive, and their relationship with one another in the mysore room is a pleasure to experience.  Shelley has an eye for detail, David is a problem solver, and their affection for each other colors the room.  I'm so happy to be a part of this.


  1. That sounds just wonderful, I've taken his primary intensive and a few workshops, but still no mysore with Swenson sensei. He's a teacher that somehow gets me super enthused about practicing \(^-^)/

  2. Very interesting, like how you describe them and how they work as a team.

  3. Intense!! I just went for his Sunday day-long, which was nothing compared to this!!

  4. エスタ - It's true, he is motivating and sweet at the same time.

    Claudia - It really is great to get the dual perspective from David and Shelley. They each have their strengths, and to work with both of them together is quite a treat.

    Yoginicory - Very intense. It's such a privilege to practice not only with David and Shelley, but also in a roomful of such talented, dedicated practitioners. Makes my heart swell.

  5. Sounds amazing.. I hope I get a chance to take David and Shelley's class one day. I'm still working on the primary series though so I don't know how much I'll benefit from their workshop at this point.

  6. I would love to take a workshop with him and his wife one day. Judging by his interview in 'Guruji' he seems really affable and approachable, important qualities for a good teacher in my opinion. Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights!

  7. Yyogini - I highly recommend it. They are a fantastic team and I'd say that, since you're still putting your Primary together, you'd benefit at least as much as anyone else from studying with a great teacher like Swenson.

    Savasanaaddict - He is so very humble and approachable and creates a wonderful learning environment for his students. There is lots of hard work but also lots of laughter in the room.