Practice today

Today I did Second Series to Dwi Pada. During Danurasana, L.N. said that the dristhe is all the way continually the nose (nasagrai). For some reason I thought that as you reached the highest lift, you gazed at the ceiling, but she's right, the gaze is to the tip of the nose.

When doing Kapotasana, she observed that I tend to splay my shoulders in such a way that it can cause a kink. She says there needs to be an inward rotation to the arms, not outward. To explain what she meant, she had me hold her ankles when I reached the floor. Then she was able to rotate the arms correctly. She said it was an inward motion to the arms, bringing the arms in as if I was going to check the smell of an armpit. That's a funny reference, but it helps remember the instruction. This keeping the elbows and arms inwards also applies to Urdvha Danurasana. Snow White helped me during Supta Vajrasana. I had not seen her since December.

Since my handstand tends to be banana-boated, she suggested that before going to assisted dropbacks, I practice handstand on the wall, getting the hands way close to the wall, and get the feeling of how the body needs to be straight and the bandhas engaged. Before assisting me on Urdva Danurasana, she had me practice dropback on the wall, quite far from the wall, but falling on the wall with my arms. During assisted dropbacks, there was a lot of repeat instruction of transferring the weight to the feet, moving the feet forward, falling with the hands as close to the feet as possible, then rocking back, then forward, then keeping the chest lifted, the hands dangling when coming up.


laksmi said...

hi Arturo. we do that handstand directly against the wall in my shala too and it really helps.

when you are doing 2s, do you do all of primary or are you split?

Arturo said...

Hi laskmi
Well, it depends who I'm practicing with. With Springy Sitarist in Berkeley on Sundays, I do half of Primary to Navasana, then Second to Dwi Pada. He wants me to get Dwi Pada by myself, unassisted, before moving me on to Yoginidrasana. With Seven Pointed Lotus, during the week in SF, I do all of the standing sequence, then go into Second and go up to Nakrasana. There's some reasons for that. Too much forward bending in Primary Practice was hurting my body, even with doing the half 1st, half 2nd. It was coming to the point that I just started practicing at home. So she decided to device a practice that would help my body. That's how I got to that practice. It's not perfect, because I do Karandavasana from a three point headstand, unless I'm assisted from the Pincha base. Even my Pincha Mayurasana is not perfect. But she has seen my practice for 3 years. And it took her what seems like a year and a half to add those poses. It was not one pose a month. Sometimes I was 6 months in a pose.

When N&K were here, I was allowed only to do all of Primary, then Second up to Kapotasana. And that was because I have been practicing for 5 years. It was beautiful, but I think it would harm my body to do that for several years until Kapotasana was perfect, if I may express my opinion.

Sometimes I would hope that there could be some discussion between teachers and the family in Mysore and determine that it is OK to let some people officially progress even past an asana that is not absolutely perfect. I think that allowance should be for the health benefits of the person. It should take into consideration the dedication of students who also carry careers and families and who can't drop everything to go to India. We should be officially allowed to move on with the practice. I'm probably stating what should not be stated because it goes contrary to the method taught. I know it goes contrary because my first Mysore teacher taught me well regarding the philosophy behind why poses are held back. But if it is "practice and all is coming," it should also be, "practice all and all is coming". If I keep practicing all or as much as possible of Second Series, that practice will improve, just as I can still improve First Series.

We know that at the beginning of the passing on of this tradition, students were given everything. Later on they started holding back. Now we see that when people started getting ill from too much forward bending in Primary Series, more people started being allowed (and I mean officially by authorized teachers) to move on to Second Series poses, with the stopping point being Kapotasana.

Again, I'm probably talking about what cannot or should not be spoken about. But it's not in the spirit of rebellion, rather in a spirit of being honest with oneself and with others. The practice needs to sustain us rather than break us.


Yoga Chickie said...

Arturo - I was writing this really long response to you, and then I realized I wanted to put it on my own blog because I wanted to open it up to discussion on my blog. Lauren.

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