Yesterday, I felt a little sick, but took a tylenol and decided to go to yoga class anyway. I’m really glad I did, because it was the best practice I’d had in a while.
It was a small class – just seven of us, with J teaching. Three of us were more experienced yoga students; four were closer to beginners, and as I was practicing I reserved a corner of my mind to pay attention to how J gave the instructions for each pose, what he said or pointed out to help the less experienced students through the postures. I noted the little moments when J said something outside his usual wording, indicating that those words were a gentle nudge aimed at someone in particular. I was pleased that I remembered to start cultivating that awareness throughout the practice.
I did a little stretching before class started, and found that my legs were loose enough that I could press my forehead to my knees in paschimottanasana; that was my first clue that it was going to be a good practice. I felt strong all through the class. J had us do some poses, like Pigeon, that I hadn’t done in one of his classes before, and it felt good. My low and high lunges during sun salutations were nice and strong, and it occurred to me that just a month or two ago, the sun salutation lunges were killing me because I wasn’t used to them. During the standing poses, when I felt my thighs burning, I consciously whispered “tapas” to myself, lowered a little deeper into the pose, and lengthened my breath. I was able to straighten my right knee in Revolved Triangle (not my left knee, not quite, but I got closer than usual). We did Camel as our backbend, and it felt so good that afterward I lowered back into Hero pose and was able to comfortably get my tush on the floor. J saw me doing Hero (everyone else was doing Child’s pose) and gave me a tip about trying to pull my knees closer together to get a different stretch, so I tried that. At the end of class, I felt ready to do a headstand, which I hadn’t done in a while. I pulled my mat over to the wall, prepared myself, and was able to gracefully lift my legs straight up. J gave me some pointers on lifting my legs away from the wall, so I worked on that, and was able to hold my headstand a good long while.
I wish I could say that my sivasana was perfect and undistracted, but not really. (I can even tell you my train of thought: Hey, I haven’t seen Katrina in a while. I should call her next time I’m in Boston and we should go dancing, it seems like she goes dancing all the time from her Facebook page. I miss going dancing with Kris, too, she should come along, but I bet she’s busy planning her wedding. I’m glad Carlos came to MY wedding. I wish Bobbi and Jon had been able to come to my wedding too, or that I’d been able to go to theirs. I’m so happy they’re having a baby – Hey, sivasana here! My eyes keep flickering, I should get Sarah T to make me an eye pillow, I need to check her prices on etsy – Sivasana!) So yes, I felt some distractions, but I was able to (1) catch myself and come back to sivasana and my breath, and (2) follow my own train of thought. I feel like this is a little bit useful because at least I’m aware enough of the distraction to see where my thoughts are going and where they’ve been, and awareness is a good thing.
Overall, it was a really excellent practice, and afterward I felt relaxed and languid and peaceful and content. I wanted to remember this practice, to look back over it as something special. In the midst of everything going on in my life right now, all the stress I’ve been feeling lately, I needed this practice to remind me that I really love this thing, that there’s a reason I believe in this so much.
i’ve come to headstand from ashtanga-land. how is it taught with a walll? do you actually kick up into headstand the way you would handstand?
I use the wall for headstand just to provide balance and security. The one time I tried to do a headstand without a wall, I ended up falling over backwards and smashing the bookshelf in the yoga room (and freaking the hell out of F).
I drag my mat over to the wall, and fold it over a few times for cushioning. Then I put my forearms on the mat and clasp my hands (a few inches away from the wall), and put my head into my clasped hands. Legs are roughly in down-dog position. Then, engage core muscles and float legs up to rest against the wall. I used to kick up, I think, but of course it’s better not to, and now I’m strong enough not to have to. Sometimes I just stay there, resting my heels against the wall, but last night I experimented with holding my whole self up, with the security of having the wall right there if I wobbled.
it’s weird because the first inversion i really got was headstand, i feel *really* insecure about either kicking up or about using the wall. something i need to work on when my shoulder allows. i will keep your notes in mind. 🙂
I usually do shoulder stand, I’m a lot more comfortable with it. (This may be partly related to the fact that in my parents’ house, the second floor bedrooms were converted from attic space, so I spent many hours as a teenager lying on my mom’s bed, talking on the phone, and walking my feet up the slanty ceiling. Total shoulder stand training!)