Primary Friday: Rich Little Warriors

This is more like it.  I made it through the full practice week with all my Intermediate postures and without a chorus of reluctance assailing me every time I thought of stepping on the mat.  It didn't hurt that Tuesday was a moon day.  I hope this means I'm over the hump.  In any case, I better get over it soon because the 3-week Swenson intensive is naught but a week away.

Yesterday's practice was really good.  I worked hard.  And not because of an obligation to achieve, but because it gave me joy.  At the onset, I knew it would be a good practice.  Every little joint in my body, from knuckles to spine, cracked so loudly and freely through the Surya Namaskara that I might as well have done the salutations on bubble wrap.

Standing was solid.  As I came to Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, it occurred to me that I used to regard that posture as some kind of a sick joke, awkward and demeaning.  But now, I look forward to it and wind myself up with gleeful abandon.  After the second side, I step to the top of my mat dressed in a whole new body.  Utthita Hasta was shaky.  There was some dancing and hopping about, rare but comical.  Ardha Baddha was a lovely stretch.  And the Warriors...

Oh, the Warriors!  If there's one clear and obvious way that Ashtanga Vinyasa has changed my relationship to the asanas, it's in the evolution of my relationship to Virabhadrasana I and II.  They are the chocolate on my Primary pillow.  What once were confrontational are now comfortable, soft and even sweet.  Warrior II is my new favorite hip opener.  Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I'll stay for 6 or 8 breaths instead of five, just because it feels so damn good on my chronically short adductors.  The very same adductors which, by the way, seem to be opening up since I left the couch behind for a floor pillow situation in my living room.  My back and hips have thanked me.

All the elusive binds were back in business yesterday, with Marichyasana D, Suptka Kurmasana, and Pasasana accounted for.  In fact, not only were the binds accounted for, but they were as deep as they've ever been.  Strange. Very strange.

Intermediate was interesting.  Like I said, Pasasana was bound with a full four-finger clasp on both sides.  I managed to swing into Krounchasana in a single breath.  Shalabasana felt strong and Bhekasana was deep.  Dhanurasana is feeling quite deep as well, but Parsva Dhanurasana has announced itself as my new nemesis pose.  I'm trying hard not to hate it, but I am no longer amused by the antics of the posture and grudgingly bide my time through the infinity that is 15 breaths.  Of course, it's never quite as bad as I remember and, eventually, this aversion will pass.

Ustrasana was heavenly.  I had a strong impulse to close my eyes and go to sleep in the posture -- that's how comfortable I was.  I don't think I've ever before had the urge to nap in a backbend.  Laghu was the usual thigh-burning grind.  Kapotasana, though not yet to the heels, has proven to be surprisingly untouched by lack of practice.  I might even venture to say that I have more mobility in my thoracic spine now than I did before I took a break from the backbends.  It's clear in the drop backs, as well.

And since this is a Primary Friday post, I suppose I should remark on my Primary:  I haven't done it yet.  My practice has settled into a nice midday groove.  I step on the mat around 12:30 or 1pm, and it's working for me.  There's actually a good, diet-related reason for this timeslot, which is fodder for another post in itself.  Stay tuned for a post on why some of us shouldn't practice on an empty stomach.  (Cue suspenseful music.)


  1. Oh! I'm very curious to read why some people SHOULDN'T practice on an empty stomach! My teacher had put the drop-backs back into my practice a few weeks ago (they had been on hiatis due to a barrage of body issues--foot surgery, injuries, tweaks, etc) but had to take them back out because I'm getting extremely light-headed. Light-headedness, intense pressure on the head, slightly nauseous, and almost feeling like I'm going to black out. All good reasons to put a hold on the drop backs. She's working with me to get my neck and shoulder muscles to relax more, so they're not cutting off circulation to my head, but that's not the only time I get a similar sensation (though it is the most intense). Low blood pressure and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) tend to run in my family, and I've often wondered if eating on no food contributes to the light-headedness during morning practice. So...eager to read that post!

    p.s. I love Vira 2 also...even when the thigh starts to burn :)

  2. Hehe - cracking is good? My shoulders crack when I spread the arms and bend forward, I'd like to be able to think it's a good sign :-)

    Looking forward to your next post, and loved your last one, too :-)

  3. Tara - I, too, have low blood pressure and hypoglycemia, and I do believe some symptoms I've experienced during and after practice are related. I'll elaborate soon.

    Anne - Thanks! I wouldn't say cracking is good or bad, necessarily. But, in my experience, persistent cracking usually means that I'm tighter than normal, which makes things interesting on the mat.

  4. Nice post, Megan. Great to hear that you are back into the full swing of practice :-)

    "...Parsva Dhanurasana has announced itself as my new nemesis pose. I'm trying hard not to hate it, but I am no longer amused by the antics of the posture and grudgingly bide my time through the infinity that is 15 breaths."

    You are not the first person who has said that they hate Parsva Dhanurasana. But I'm curious: Why do you dislike the pose? Sure, it's not exactly elegant, what with all that rolling and rocking around, but it doesn't really bother me. Why does it bother you? Just curious.

  5. Hi Nobel - I think Parsva Dhanurasana has been blacklisted because it's just such a long stay in that backbend. For me, it's the sensation -- the pose lights my low back, glutes, and thighs on fire. I realize this is the challenge of postural yoga so, indeed, Parsva Dhanurasana probably has a lot to offer me at this point in my practice, but I'm having trouble opening to it's gifts.

  6. My theory on why I hate(d) that pose - looked it up, it's bow pose? - is that I have always had very strong/tight back thighs and hamstrings. I just read Gregor Maehle on how yoga strengthens the body by muscles "pulling" in both directions. My "backside" takes over and the front kind of "gives up", it burns, and there's no balance. When I focus on "pulling" from the front as well and keeping muscles there strong to counteract, it's much easier for me to love that pose :-). Just a thought.