Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From Liz: Confessions of a Cross Trainer.

In response to your quandry: is this one of those "mat as microcosm" moments? I find resistance to my practice is actually resistance to something else in my life (if you'll forgive the facile insertion of the idea of "tranference" into our wee dialogue).

For instance, I've just come off a nightmarish first family vacation with Humble Husband and Terrible Toddler. I packed my mat, but was so caught up in the drama of difficult travel that I only ended up using it as a changing pad. I was too scattered, pulled by my inherent vatta tendencies to focus and step onto mat/into practice mode. I think this is where the yamas and niyamas would come in handy, if I were to apply them dutifully and consistently. I know they are referred to as "constraints" and "observances." But I think the whole set acts more as an energetic funnel, harnessing prana, rather than a barrier. The ritual act of tidying my kitchen becomes an offering, etc. Maybe set up new rituals related to the yamas and niyamas in your new home??

Anyway, I am back to my routine now. First practice was predictably leaden, but it has gotten better since. In my ashtanga practice, I'm learning to trust my hands. I realized recently that a big part of my problem with jumping back has been that I don't trust my hands and arms to hold my weight, so I never really shift it completely into them as I try to transition. The more faith I've put in the palms of my hands, the smoother it has become. Still a lot of work to do, but "practice, practice..."

And I took an amazing Iygengar class where the teacher focused on having us lengthen our psoas muscles, all while broadening and wrapping our quadratus lumborum (deep back muscle) as we did a bunch of forward bending, and eka padas. For example: in eka pada sirsasana (the version of headstand where you lower one leg parallel to the floor, not this one), he had us lengthen the psoas on the lifted leg side, while wrapping the quadratus on the descended leg side, in order to stabilize. But I noticed that this action has the effect of creating a little uddiyana bandha. Which I got really way too excited about. This must be what Mark Whitwell means when he says, "asana creates bandha."

At any rate, the realization also kind of made me feel vindicated. I've heard a lot of people say that you can't mix styles of yoga, that you really should pick one thing and stick to it. But I really believe that some styles are complementary. I walked away from that Iyengar class feeling like it nourished my private ashtanga practice.

Now I just have to figure out a way to justify my love of cardio, and we'll be all set....

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