Monday, January 17, 2011

Practice report, and a couple of related thoughts

Did full primary and second series up to Supta Vajrasana today. Finished in slightly under 2 hours (Am I getting a little obsessed with how long my practice takes?). Here are a couple of practice "highlights":

(1) I bound my wrists on both sides in both Marichyasana D and Pasasana today, but the wrist bind in Mari D seems to take a little more effort today (needed to "squeeze/twist" into the pose more in order to get the wrist bind).

This probably had something to do with what I did and ate yesterday. Yesterday, we went with a couple of friends to Olive Garden for a late lunch. Had a bowl of vegetarian minestrone soup, and a five-cheese baked Ziti (lunch portion) for the main course. Also had a glass of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. Gosh, I was so full after that, it's not even funny. Took me three hours to get over the "bloated" feeling. Didn't have to eat anything for the rest of the day.

Moral of the story? I think it is this: If you want to have a consistently fabulous daily ashtanga practice, avoid Olive Garden! But seriously, this reminds me of what Kino said at her Chicago workshop. The Ashtanga system doesn't have any dos or don'ts: There are no explicit dietary and lifestyle rules in Ashtanga. All it does is recommend that you do the practice everyday, 6 days a week, for however much or however little you choose. It is possible, in theory, to have a big steak dinner (or have a big late lunch at Olive Garden!) and then do the practice the next day. But if I do this, the body and the practice has to work so much harder in order to detox and clean out all that bad stuff (which is probably what happened with me this morning).

But such a practice rhythm is unsustainable for most people (who wants to be struggling with Mari D and huffing and puffing through the vinyasas every morning, for all eternity?). So the practitioner eventually gets to a point where he or she has to make a choice: Either change the diet/lifestyle to fit the yoga practice, or change the yoga practice to fit the lifestyle. It turns out that, our bodies being the way they are, it is easier to do ashtanga if one eats less (or no) meat and eats light than if one eats, say, a filet mignon. It is, of course, possible, to take the other course: Change the yoga practice to fit the lifestyle... (Need I say more?)

Does this make me an Ashtanga fanatic/fundamentalist? If one defines "fundamentalist" as "somebody who is willing to change and arrange his or her life around one thing which he believes very strongly in/is very passionate about", then yes, I am so totally an Ashtanga fundamentalist!

(2) Another interesting development with the ongoing saga of lifting into handstand after the fifth navasana. Tried to lift into handstand after fifth navasana again today. Did the same actions: Lifted my butt off the ground after navasana no. 5, moved my hips so that they were directly above my shoulders, and then extended my legs up into the air (I'm not sure if they were perpendicular to the ground, but I think that even if they were not, they were pretty close). I balanced on my bent arms for a few breaths (still working to straighten them). Then my arms bent more, and my nose touched the ground. For about 2 or 3 breaths, my body weight was distributed more or less evenly between my arms and my nose (Did I just discover a new pose :-)?) And then I dropped my legs to the ground to chaturanga. Hopefully, this nose-balancing thing means that I am closer to extending up into handstand. Or maybe not. We'll see.     

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