Wednesday, June 27, 2012

the challenge of it

I am really into this idea of choosing a peak pose to work on for an entire month in my advanced group practice. My students are super dedicated and interested, which makes this process so much fun.  I am inspired by each participant's eagerness to learn and work hard.  I've gotten several emails and facebook messages from people asking more questions from their home practice.  That is what inspires me to keep investigating.  Its pretty amazing to see the fire being stoked in everyone's practice.  

The thing I love about advanced yoga is the challenge of it.  Recently, I've done some exploring in my own identity as a yoga teacher and practitioner, searching for the "whys" related to my yoga.  It has become pretty clear to me that its the challenge of the process.  When something gets too easy I tend to lose interest.  When something is hard, I am more likely to commit and make it my mission to get to the other side.  The good news about yoga is that it never gets old and never runs out.  There is always something new to explore.  When (and if) I ever do all the poses out there, then I can work on refinements or transitions or putting combinations of poses together.  The challenge is never over. I've thought a lot about this lately.  Its not that I am never satisfied.  Its more that I always want to get better.  I always want to improve.  These hard poses teach me a lot about how to approach life's challenges.  Most of the time, I link a challenge on my mat to a challenge in my life.   For example, if there is a certain aspect I am working on off the mat (i.e. speaking my truth, loving unconditionally, compassion, etc.), I dedicate my efforts on the mat to that topic.  Then, when I finally get the pose I am working on it somehow proves to me that with enough effort, anything is possible.  

I don't really count on luck or chance.  I do count on making things happen for myself, when and if that is possible.  There are so many things in life we can't control.  But we can control our level of effort and commitment to the practice.  And by "to the practice"  I mean the practice of it all.  The practice of life.  As my teacher Christina Sell always says, "Yoga is practice for life."  I love that.  

Below are my notes from our last scorpian practice.  In this sequence, we went for a really deep backbend that has a similar shape in the upper body, before attempting scorpion.  The goal with that approach was to add in a pose that gets the feet level with the head while we still have the floor to push our feet into.  Then, when we got to scorpion, we were more prepared.  This week, I've shared more of the meat of my process of preparing for this pose, in hopes that it will help others break down their own challenge poses.  If you have any questions, please post comments below.  I would love to hear from you.  Thanks for playing!



Excerpt from Light on Yoga:
"The head which is the seat of knowledge and power is also the seat of pride, anger, hatred, jealousy, intolerance, and malice. These emotions are more deadly than the poison which the scorpion carries in its sting.  The yogi, by stamping on his head with his feet, attempts to eradicate these self-destroying emotions and passions. By kicking his head he seeks to develop humility, calmness and tolerance and the be free of ego. The subjugation of the ego leads to harmony and happiness."

Vrischikasana I – Scorpion (on forearms)

Need to open – quads, upper back, triceps, front of chest
Common misalignments – foundation slips, loss of midline, loss of muscle engagement
Key actions – root tailbone, squeeze midline, strong shoulder work

Similar shapes –
1) pincha mayurasana + full rajakapotasana
2) kapotasana - hands to floor overhead
3) eka pada viparita dandasana II
4) bandha chakrasana

Modified Surya A – skip chaturangas and just lower to floor, replace cobra with salabasana variations
No hands lunge
Cobra on fingertips
Standing Crescent
Vira I – back knee bent, hovering off floor, crescent to side
Ardha bhekasana
Twisted monkey thigh stretch
EPRK II prep (w/thigh stretch)
EPRK I prep 
Virasana w/block between shoulder blades – 1 min, 2X
Pincha at wall – legs parallel to floor, feet at wall
Eka hasta laghuvajrasana
Kapotasana – arms straight
5 Drop backs (or 5 urdhva dhanurasanas from floor)
Dwi pada viparita dandasana
Bandha chakrasana - hands to ankles
Vrischikasana I – at least 10X
Uttanasana - standing on mat roll
Calf smashing - 3 different locations on legs
Mud flap girl (seated figure 4 with bottom leg bent)
Agni stambasana
Agni stambasana w/twist

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