In my last post, I said that I went through some struggles in the mysore sessions at Kino's workshop. A lot happened during the mysore sessions; rather than bore you with the details of every single little thing that happened, I'll just focus here on two things: My experience with Pincha Mayurasana and my non-experience with Karandavasana.
(1) Pincha Mayurasana
With some guidance from Kino, I just barely managed to pull off the standard pincha mayurasana jump-back exit to chaturanga. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, this basically involves transitioning to chaturanga from pincha mayurasana without touching one's feet to the ground before chaturanga (and without landing on one's face in the process, of course). Sorry if all this sounds very convoluted; I guess I need to find a more concise way of describing this transition.
First, a little back-story. For the last couple of months, I always "chickened out" whenever I came to this transition in my home practice. Whenever I was done with pincha, I would just lower my feet to the ground, and then move into chaturanga. I guess I was afraid of landing on my face, and possibly flattening my already flat Asian nose :-)
Anyway, on the first mysore session at the workshop (on Saturday morning), I basically did the same "chicken out" move after pincha. In what appeared to be a coincidence, Kino walked by my mat about five seconds after I did that move:
Kino: You did Pincha Mayurasana?
Kino: Did you jump back from Pincha?
Nobel: Uh.... not really.
Kino: Why don't you do Pincha again? I'll help you with the jump back.
Nobel [Silently groans to himself]: Sure...
Have you ever noticed that senior teachers usually don't notice your most impressive postures, but almost always catch you when you try to skip those postures that bring up the most fear in you? So, I dutifully went back up into pincha, and guess what? I did that chicken out move again, because I still couldn't bring myself to try to pull off the standard exit, despite the presence of Kino. Kino advised me to try the following: Before doing pincha mayurasana, do modified chaturanga (chaturanga with the forearms on the mat). From modified chaturanga, push the elbows into the mat, and hop back into regular chaturanga. The idea is that this is supposed to serve as a "training wheels" version of the real transition, since in this version, the feet are on the ground the whole time, and one can manage more effectively the fear of falling on one's face. She suggested that I should do this for three times before actually trying the real transition during my next practice. I thanked her for this tip, and went on with the rest of my practice.
When I got to pincha mayurasana during next morning's mysore, I decided to simply go for the actual transition without going through the training wheels version, as Kino had suggested the day before. I don't know what made me do this. Maybe it was sheer ego; maybe it was the fact that a senior teacher was present, and I felt motivated to do more than what I considered to be my maximum (I call this the "Senior Teacher Effect").
In any case, I went up into Pincha, stayed there for five breaths. I then pushed my elbows into the mat, and lifted off. And then the weirdest thing happened. My nose touched the ground very briefly, but then it kind of... bounced off the ground, and I landed perfectly in chaturanga. And no, my nose did not become flatter :-) I was so surprised by what just happened that I made this weird surprised sound (I don't know how else to describe it). Kino came up to me, and asked me if I succeeded in doing the jump back. I said, "Barely..."
Then she said, "You want to try Karandavasana?" Normally, I would have jumped at the chance to get a new posture. But I told her that my knee was feeling a little tweaky, and I don't know if it's wise to risk trying to do padmasana while upside down without using my hands in this state. This is actually true; some months ago, I tweaked my right knee while attempting karandavasana. As of right now, it has recovered to the point where I can do padmasana and all its variations without pain or discomfort if I enter the postures with proper attention to alignment. But I don't yet feel ready to try to get into padmasana while in pincha mayurasana. She said that I should work on slowly trying to get my knees into padmasana in shoulderstand without using my hands. Once I've succeeded in doing this, I will be ready to attempt karandavasana safely. I thanked her for the suggestion. I'll work on this.
Well, this is the first time in recorded history that I have actually said no to being given a new posture, and to a senior teacher at that. How's that for being self-realized? :-)
I can write more, and there's so much more I would like to share, but I'm getting hungry, and need to go make some food. Maybe I'll write more later (or maybe not :-)).