Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Practice report, some thoughts on following the directive of spirit

"There is always something left to love." 

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Did full primary and second up to pincha mayurasana this morning. Made a couple of interesting discoveries this morning:

(1) In Marichyasana D on the second side, after I got my right foot into half-lotus, and wrapped my right elbow around the left leg to bind, I noticed that there was a new sensation in my right leg (the leg that's in half-lotus). How should I describe this? Well, I felt that there was more of a stretch in the quadriceps (or whatever those muscles on the front of the thighs are called), and that, because of this, I was able to get the right knee to stay much closer to the ground as I twisted into the bind. Which translates into greater stability in the knee joint (I've always been a bit worried about the fact that my right knee tends to "fly" off the ground as i am getting into the bind on this side). Hmm... perhaps Frank might be on to something with his suggestion that my not being able to get into lotus upside down has to do with limited quad flexibility. And hopefully, whatever happened with Mari D this morning is a sign that whatever needs to open in my right quad might be opening up. I don't want to jinx myself by talking about it prematurely here, but I think there's at least room for cautious optimism :-)

(2) For the past couple of practices, I have been able to get into padmasana from shoulderstand without my hands, with minimal to no discomfort in my knees. I think the trick is to bring the right foot into the left hip crease, but at the same time, to not try too hard to bring the right foot towards the navel after I have brought it into the left hip crease. This, of course, means that my upside-down lotus won't be as deep and snug as my normal seated lotus, but maybe that's a compromise that needs to be made when one is upside down. Anybody has any thoughts on this?

In any case, I have discovered during the last two practices that if I bring the right foot into the left hip crease without trying too hard to bring it towards the navel after that, I then have enough of a right half-lotus to be able to maneuver my left foot into padmasana. I'm going to continue working on this for the next few weeks.


In her latest post, Claudia relates a story of how Krishnamacharya stuck to his guns (yes, I understand that I have a tendency to use images ("guns") that are not very yogic, but please bear with me) when challenged by the management of the Chennai college about his teaching style. Claudia remarks:

"Tirumalai was so sure of his mission, so certain on the benefits of yoga, so trusting that life would take care of him with or without the college that he just followed the only directive worth following, that of his own spirit."

This is a really inspiring and instructive story (thanks, Claudia!). Although I am not at the same level of practice as Krishnamacharya, I feel that this story speaks and applies to me as well. I feel that the practice, by its very nature, causes you to become more trusting of yourself. In the beginning, one might approach the practice with the intention of simply "muscling" and just making it through the postures. But as one sticks with the practice for a while and goes through a number of ups and downs, one eventually realizes that the only sustainable way to do the practice is to take everything breath by breath. This is true, whether your practice for the day consists of just Surya A and B, or full primary, or even full primary and second up to, say, pincha mayurasana (ahem!). If one approaches each posture while doing one's best to pay attention to one's breath, the practice becomes more doable and more an extension of one's own being, and less an exercise of trying to force one's body into funny shapes. In the process, one also gains a more intimate understanding of one's own body and mind. Because the breath is the interface between the body, mind and spirit, by listening to one's breath, one also becomes more in touch with and more able to trust what one's being is saying to oneself, and discovers that the only thing worth following in the end--indeed, the only thing one can follow--is the directive of one's own spirit. 

Lokaha Samasthaha Sukhino Bhavanthu   


  1. glad your "no-hands-lotus" is coming along! :) "no-hands-lotus" is also quite a bit looser than what I do in regular padmasana. It's a compromise I've had to make too...if I try too hard to tighen up the lotus while in the forearm balance position, the wiggling usually tips me!

  2. Interesting, Christine. Thanks for sharing. I suppose compromise in padmasana is necessary while upside down, then?