I did my usual practice this morning (full primary and second up to pincha mayurasana).
As I was doing Garbha Pindasana, I thought about the five-rolls-instead-of-nine rule. Five rolls is actually doable; one just has to make a bigger angle every time one rolls. But I'm curious nonetheless: Why? Why five rolls instead of nine? As I understand it, Garbha Pindasana means "embryo in the womb pose". 9 rolls can be taken to represent the 9 months it takes a human fetus to gestate. So why the change to 5 rolls, given this rich symbolism?
Well, here's a possible theory, although this is really "out there". Maybe the change is made in order to reflect advances in medical science. After all, in ancient times, fetuses have to gestate for nine months. If they come out any earlier, their chances of survival are very slim. But with advances in medical science, it is now possible for a fetus to be delivered prematurely and have a reasonable chance of survival. I read somewhere that it is even possible (although very difficult) to enable fetuses who are delivered at 20 weeks (5 months) to survive. Hence 5 rolls (5 months). Maybe even Ashtanga has to keep up with the times. But fetuses that are delivered prematurely have to be incubated. So one does Garbha 5 times and goes into the body of the rooster (kukkutasana) to get incubated! But this still doesn't make sense. If one is going into kukkutasana to get incubated, doesn't this mean that one would have to hold kukkutasana for longer, in order to achieve the incubatory effect?
If you think this whole theory sounds outlandish, it is! Maybe those of you in New York City who are going to Sharath's class tomorrow morning can ask him what the rationale is behind this five-rolls-instead-of-nine rule? Isn't tomorrow his last day in NY, anyway? Just a suggestion...
In other practice news:
(1) In second series, I have discovered that one can jump into bakasana B with much more control if one takes a very slow, deliberate inhale and retain one's inhalation at the exact moment when the knees touch the back of the upper arms. I don't know why, but doing this gives me better control of the whole jump movement, and there is not that wobbling and struggling to hold oneself in bakasana.
(2) Also in second series, I am still working on landing in chaturanga from pincha mayurasana. The landing is still heavy and unbalanced: I tend to land on one hand (I can't remember which hand it is) before the other.