10.28.2011

Primary Friday: Dispersal

Today was the final day of training, so this week's Primary was special and sad.  David practiced with us, conducting the series with nothing but the occasional "inhale" here or "enter" there.  The breath was exquisitely beautiful, and I had the special privilege of practicing at his right hand.  Immediately after practice, he led us all through the chanting and pranayama one last time.  My insides have been liquified by the experience.  No doubt this will go down as one of my most memorable times on the mat.

This training with David and Shelley has been a bright and clear point of focus through the chaos of the last few months.  In the ecstatic rebound of the cancer scare ordeal, the impending nature of this program kept me mindful in my practice, and when the high began to fade, it kept me coming to the mat.  Now that it's over, I feel shaken by the lack of drishte but excited to observe the change.  Already, my classes have taken on a different tone.  They are quieter, more trusting and more focused on the breath.  And my practice, while still a beast, has become a softer animal, swift-footed and light.

Oh.  And I've been told to make the split.  No more Primary for me.  David and Shelley don't want me bulking up my shoulders any more than they already are, and Shelley thinks my body would be well-served by Intermediate.  I spoke with her yesterday, and apparently they had both been wondering behind the scenes why I hadn't made the split already.  I expressed concern about my need for the hip opening of Primary and my relative newness to the practice, but Shelley assured me that I'm ready and said I should focus on opening my hips outside of the Ashtanga.  And, of course, there's always Friday.

Post-biopsy and pre-training, I had built my practice back to Kapotasana after being unable to bend either forward or backward for nearly two weeks.  During that time, practice consisted almost solely of modified Sun Salutations, lateral movements and gentle twists.  Over the course of these past two weeks in the second level training, I have gone through the land of Legs-Behind-Head and the Insect Infestation to Pincha Mayurasana.  And now I face the steep climb of Karandavasana by myself.  This is going to be fun.

Shelley gave me some good pointers for facing Karandavasana alone, the first of which was NOT to use a wall.  I am to practice my inverted lotus in headstand before attempting from Pincha.  If my knees don't like it, I can practice with a legs-crossed type of modification.  I should work on the lowering process in increments, coming down only part way and then hauling it back up.  This all sounds well and good in theory, but we'll see how it goes in practice.  I foresee many a face plant in my future.

Tomorrow is a rest day and I intend to spend it thoroughly cleaning my home, getting grounded and re-established in my responsibilities so that I may share what I've learned from a place of clarity and stability.

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