Primary Friday: Interesting Times

Hooray for Friday! After another ridiculously full week, I got to sleep late, chill at home all morning, then do a nice Primary practice with all the fixins.  And tomorrow's a rest day!  Weekends are the best.

I'm having a notably more difficult time getting myself on the mat these days.  I've been so busy with teaching, academics, and asana that I haven't had any time to keep up with my yoga study.  Pursuit of the theory of the practice has often been a great source of motivation for my asana practice.  When I feel uninspired, I pick up one of Maehle's or Iyengar's books, or just grab at random from the stack, flip open to a page, and start reading.  It works without fail.  But it's time consuming, and that's time I don't have.

I'm definitely in something of a downswing.  I feel clogged.  I'm lethargic, noticeably more irritated by insignificant bothers, and my sweat smells especially bad.  I wake nearly every morning to sore shoulders and I can barely think until I've had a cup of coffee.  My right glutes are seizing up like there's a golf ball wedged in there.  Interestingly, however, in the midst of this apparent downturn my teaching has been rather inspired.  I am loving what's happening in my classes.  I'm feeling bolder, more sensitive and improvisational.  Students seem to be loving it, too.  I look forward to every class. 

But like I said, my practice has been a different story.  It's hard to face, but once I get my body moving, my mind settles on the breath and everything falls into place.  That first vinyasa -- arms up, palms touch -- always feel so damn good.

This afternoon was no exception to this trend.   I had a tough time getting started, but had a great practice.  Ten slow Surya's.  Richness of sensation in the standing sequence which perfectly primed me for the first stretch of seated.  Lotus postures were free and open.  Twists were deep, jumps were light.  I tweaked my jump back by setting the hands an inch or two further back in relationship to my hips for the lift up.  Somehow, it made the whole process of the jump back easier, less of a muscular effort and more of a gravity play.  I'll be exploring the effects of this more.

Something is lighting up in my right psoas in some of the wide-legged forward folds, namely the Prasaritas and Supta Konasana.  It's an electric, traveling sort of sensation that comes on fast and fades after a few breaths with a slight external rotation of the thigh bone.

Backbends have been awesome these past few days, not just in depth but in sensation.  I have felt a profound opening in the front body, in the abdomen and left upper chest, and an energetic rush deep in the belly when I exit the pose and reclaim the space.  My shoulders are opening up to a new range of motion in the backbends and bound postures, despite the soreness and stiffness I feel in the mornings.  It's an interesting time for my practice.


  1. Hm, it's interesting to "hear" you share all this - I read your two posts before this too (I was almost hoping for an excuse why I couldn't do the jump-throughs but it turns out my arms are totally proportional, damn! I think I'll get blocks before starting again anyway, though. I've never gotten further than ramming my feet into the floor, and feeling the swoosh of actually jumping through should be more fun and probably better for learning, I'm guessing).

    I am such a different place in my practice than you, but I suspect the ups and downs are the same - I'm lucky if I am able to do 20 minutes of consecutive practice and it's moving very slowly forward. I've been stronger before, but I've been ill and lost a lot of weight. I have good and bad weeks, but I used to have bad and worse, so it's all good! Over-reliance on coffee is a sure sign of stretching myself for me too - I usually have it as my "time to gear down" moment when I stop enjoying the coffee - that's when I know I need to slow down, cut the coffee, and start drinking it for pleasure rather than fuel! It's funny that your practice is going so well - I think that must be a sign that you were/are in good shape and in a good place emotionally so you're able to push it that extra inch for a while - like the guys doing the tour de France! Interesting thing about the books - do you have a recommendation for an ashtanga newbie? I've done yoga for years, but I want to get deeper into the thoughts behind, and the background - not necessarily historically or anything, more like...inspiration I guess? Wait - I just discovered your ressources page, haha...well, if any recommendation just SPRINGS to mind from what I've written, I'd love to hear :-).

    Hope you are enjoying the weekend. It's oil bath day! I think I'm doing mine tomorrow, I feel like some practice today in stead ;-)

  2. Hi Anne - Thanks for the long comment. Blocks are a great way to learn the jump through, even if your arms are proportional. ;) They really help to build the muscle memory for when you're ready to do it with hands on the floor.

    The interesting thing about yoga is that, as we progress in our practice, the poses don't really get any easier, they just get deeper. So we're all in the same boat as far as asana goes. The only thing that really matters is that we do the practice, our practice, whatever that might be.

    As for the recommendation, Gregor Maehle's book Ashtanga Yoga: Practice & Philosophy is a fantastic resource for all things Ashtanga. Not only does he explore the theory, history, and practice of Ashtanga yoga, but there's also a really excellent commentary on the Yoga Sutras in the back that I turn to over and over.

    Hooray for oil bath day! And hooray for a sanctioned day off, am I right?

  3. Thanks for the recommendation - it's now in my shopping basket at Amazon, but I think the actual ordering will have to wait until I see the end of the month (finances! You gotta hate it! :-)) I also have a ceramic Neti pot ready for order, so far I've been using a mini milk jug, ha! Take care :-)

  4. Your blog is so inspiring! Thank you so very much!