|Cranes (detail) by Ogata Korin, Edo Period c. 1700, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian|
With practice being this long, I haven't had the time to do it in the mornings. As much as I enjoy the freshness of early practice, when I do practice in the morning, I feel rushed. I have to omit some of the more detailed work that I enjoy and cut the finishing backbends short, which I really hate to do. Sunday is my busiest day of the week and I have no choice but to practice in the morning because, by the time I get home in the late afternoon, I'm too tired and hungry to even think about it. I only ever have two hours TOPS to practice, often less, so I end up abbreviating somehow. For example, this week I had to drop two Suryas and head into Intermediate from Navasana.
Afternoons, I tend to have larger chunks of time at my disposal, so I can spend hours uninterrupted on my mat without feeling hurried or guilty. Yesterday, after a morning of blasting tunes and cleaning out my closet, I milked that time for all it was worth with all ten Suryas (I usually do eight. Six if I'm in a hurry, but always ten on Fridays with Primary. You wanted to know all of that, right?). I decided to do all of Primary rather than split it at Supta Kurmasana, then I went on a tripod headstand tangent after Prasarita Padottanasana A, took an extra attempt at Kapo, indulged in a few prep poses for the LBH set, and capped it all off with extra drop backs plus a final backbend which brought my hands mere inches from heels. All told, I was on the mat for 2 glorious hours and 30 amazing minutes.
It was a gritty but beautiful practice, clearing out the rust and pangs. Trikonasana on the second side is getting harder every day. Something keeps knotting up my right side hip and Trikonasana, a rather unassuming little pose, is making me see stars. I've been staying for an extra breath or two on the second side to breath into that scary business.
My body felt like a ton of bricks in the jump backs, but everything else was good and deep. I've been working on my lotus jump back this week, playing with some tricks David and Shelley shared with us during the Intermediate workshop last month. It's coming along, though I still have to break it down into steps. First, I swing the legs through the arms by momentarily opening the elbows, then the knees come down and I reset my hands further forward and lean into a Chaturanga position as I lift the legs, unravel, and shoot them back. Maybe I'll make a video of that for you. Any interest? I was so glad to be given a plan of action for the eventual lotus jump back. Prior to this method, I had little inkling of where to begin. Now, at least I feel proactive working on the elements instead of just skipping it and waiting for "someday."
My hips were open and, surprisingly, the Intermediate backbends were very good. I found considerably more depth in Dhanurasana and Parsva Dhanurasana accessing the internal abdominal obliques. This new depth got me excited for Kapo, so I gave it an extra shot to try and finally get my hands to heels. I did manage to fondle my ankles and got a finger around my right heel, but couldn't seal the deal. So, so close. Any day now, it's happening. Any day.
And then what? You might ask. Well, just more of the same. But that's part of the beauty. With this practice, I can be confident that I will never run out of challenges. There will never be a pose or vinyasa I can't yet do, certainly not by the time it becomes necessary to relinquish the postures I've been given. It's a lifelong practice, indeed.