Monday, September 24, 2012

Semi-hands-free upside-down lotus; Ashtanga foodie blog; some encouraging Buddhist words

This morning, I had to begin my practice quite a bit earlier than usual, because I had to attend a morning meeting at work.

I did the same sequence that I had been doing for the last year (full primary plus second up to Ardha Matsyendrasana). I find starting practice early (at about a quarter to six) to be a very interesting experience. On the one hand, the body seems to be a bit tighter than if I start an hour or two later. But the mind also seems sharper and more focused and determined. And somehow, I think what goes on in the mind directly influences the body; although my body was tighter at the beginning of practice, by the time I got to the Prasaritas, it had warmed and opened up to the same degree as on any other day. This, coupled with the sharper focus of the mind, led to a very powerful and refreshing practice.

I don't know if this is related at all (it probably is), but I had a very interesting asana breakthrough this morning. As I approached the finishing sequence, my mind started floating an idea to me: "Hey! You haven't tried getting into lotus in shoulderstand without using your hands for the longest time. You seem pretty open today. Wanna try it?"

I initially resisted this idea. Ever since I injured my left knee last year, I have been kind of babying my knees in lotus or half-lotus postures. What this means is that I would go into such postures really, really slowly, using my hands to assist in such a way as to emphasize the rotation of the external hip rotators. Although I have healed sufficiently to the point where I can do these postures with little or no discomfort, I didn't want to take any chances by allowing my legs to go into lotus hands-free. But when I got out of Karnapidasana, the openness in the hips (or is it the mind that is open? I don't know...) was so irresistible that I decided to give it a shot anyway. I started by maneuvering my right foot into the left hip crease, hands-free. Nicely done. Then I slowly, gingerly moved the left foot towards the right hip crease (which is always more tricky, because the left foot has to maneuver over the right shin, which is already in lotus position. Which tends to put the left foot in a more compromising position). I managed to get the left foot to go on top of the right thigh, into what I call a half-assed lotus posture. And then I decided, "Okay, that's enough hands-free lotus action for one day." And I used my right hand to gently guide the left foot the rest of the way into Urdhva Padmasana.

So I guess you could say that I succeeded in doing a semi-hands-free upside-down-lotus. Not too shabby, I think. But I guess this means that I won't be re-attempting Karandavasana anytime soon. That's okay. Whatever is, is. It'll come when it comes.


I'm tickled by the fact that in addition to my Fish and Chips post, another food post, the Mysore Masala Dosa post, has made it to the list of the top ten most read posts on this blog. It appears that this blog is indeed fast becoming an Ashtanga foodie blog :-) What's even more interesting is that my post on an asana sequence to reduce blood sugar is also on the list of the top ten most read posts. So all in all, I like to think that this blog is still sending a healthy message out there: Yes, eat all the Fish & Chips and Masala Dosas you want, but remember to do the practice!


Earlier today, I also read some encouraging words by Daisaku Ikeda, a Buddhist poet, philosopher and educator who is also my Buddhist mentor (as you might know if you read this blog regularly, I'm a Buddhist.). He writes:

'"What kinds of causes am I making right now?" "What actions am I taking?" The answers to these questions are what will determine our future—in this life and throughout the three existences. Herein lies the foundation of faith. True glory and victory in life lie in basing oneself on this fundamental principle.'

I decided to share his words here, because I feel that these words apply to all of us, whatever faith we may profess (or not profess). Actually, it applies directly to the practice too, both on and off the mat: It doesn't matter what you did or did not do yesterday. What matters is what you are doing right now. Very simple principle, really, but not always so easy to remember and to apply.  

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