Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Added Ekapada Sirsasana today

During this morning's practice, I began my journey of incrementally splitting my practice (for more details, see this post). I was originally planning on waiting a couple more weeks to allow my shoulder to be really rested and to regain its strength before beginning this journey. But during practice this morning, my shoulders and upper body in general felt strong, and the whole body felt quite open. So I thought: Why not today? I'm guessing that if I were practicing in Mysore, Sharath would probably hold off for a couple more weeks (restraining the ego, and all that good stuff). But I'm not practicing in Mysore; heck, I have this feeling that I might be one of those people who get held back in Primary forever if I were in Mysore (ego too strong...). So all this speculation is totally moot.

But anyway, since I'm not in Mysore, I find myself doing some of second in addition to primary. This morning, I took the first step on my incermental splitting plan: I dropped Setubandhasana from primary, going straight into Pasasana from Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana, and added Ekapada Sirsasana after Ardha Matsyendrasana. This is the first time I have "officially" put my leg behind my head (not counting Supta Kurmasana) in a year. It felt... interesting. There was a nice stretch in the hamstrings, especially the right hamstring. Which totally makes sense, from a purely physiological point of view, since the backbends in second series (especially Laghu and Kapotasana) tend to have a contracting and shortening effect on the hamstrings. So putting the leg behind the head in Ekapada Sirsasana stretches them back out.

Of course, as those of you out there who practice second series know, the effects of second series is more than just physical: Energetically, putting the leg behind the head has the effect of continuing the extension and pulling up of the energy that was initiated by the backbends. But I can't really talk about any of this now, since I am very much a neophyte as far as second series is concerned. We'll see how this incermental splitting journey unfolds from this point :-)  


  1. Hm, was left wondering there and rooting for the elaboration on the energetics of what happens to you on the leg behind the neck poses... Very interesting your Description of continuing the extention and pulling up the energy initiated on the backbends... Would have never imagined that image... Quite refreshing to hear your perspective.

    1. I think Gregor Maehle talks about this energetics thing quite a bit in his book on the second series. I didn't quote him because (a) I didn't have the book handy when I wrote the post, and (b) I feel that with this things, it's more natural to talk about my own experience rather than quote other people anyway.

      Actually, now that I think about it, Kino also talked about this at some length during my first interview with her in Chicago in October 2010 (can't link to it here, as I have a slow connection right now; but I think you can find it if you search my blog for "Kino interview").

      My personal understanding is that if one only practices the backbends of second series, then the energy that is being "pulled up" as a result of the backbending is basically wild energy that is running all over the place. Leg behind the head poses help to contain this energy, instilling a certain humility (because the head tends to be bowed forward in such poses) to compensate for the power of the upward-rushing energy of backbending.

      Actually, I think Maehle pretty much says the same things using different words. So I guess I am paraphrasing him anyway :-)