Friday, August 23, 2013

This Week in Practice

So let's recap...

This week began on the heels of Kino's 3-day intensive workshop in London.  By Monday, five nights of serious sleep deprivation combined with all-out physical exertion had taken their toll.  Exhausted and utterly depleted, I opted to skip practice on Monday and instead spent the day flitting about the city.  It was lovely - relaxed and carefree with only my whims to guide me.

On Tuesday I went to Leah Kim's 7:30 am Vinyasa Flow class at Triyoga in Soho.  (She's fantastic, by the way.  I make it a point to get to her classes every time I'm in London.)  Then it was back to the hotel for a shower and to finish packing before making my way to Heathrow Airport.  Tuesday was a LONG day, punctuated by a L-O-N-G 11 1/2 hour flight.  I've never been so happy to see my husband or my bed.

Thankfully, at long last, I slept straight through the night.  Come Wednesday I was still fighting that on-again, off-again sore throat though and opted to take it easy for another day.  I skipped practice and stayed close to home, just enjoying time spent with Bentley and Theodore.

After another BLISSFULLY sound night's sleep, I decided I was ready to resume my normal routine on Thursday and drove down to Larchmont for Ashtanga.  For those of you who don't know, going to Mysore for me entails an hour drive each way.  By the time I got there and found parking, I was seriously doubting the intelligence of practice that day.  As I walked the three blocks to the studio, my thoughts became my enemy:  "I feel like crap.  I bet my practice will be crap, too.  I want to go home.  There are so many cute restaurants around here, maybe I could just treat myself to lunch and then leave?  No one would even notice." etc. etc.  But somehow I kept putting one foot in front of the other until I arrived at the shala and up the steps I went to check in.

As I settled my mind and body at the top of my mat, the first Surya Namaskara unfolded without incident.  And then the next, and the next.  Before I knew it, I was through both A's and B's and was gathering steam.  Dare I say I felt surprisingly good?  Then what happened next was nothing short of astounding.  It was seriously the BEST practice I've ever had.  I've never been more open.  Things have never seemed more clean, if that makes any sense?

For example, I got my bottom hand nearly flat to the floor on both sides of Parivrtta Parsvakonasana.  My balance was strong and steady in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and my fold forward was deeper than it's ever been.  I managed to get my shoulders substantially further under my legs in Supta Kurmasana and I got my chin to the floor for the first time in Baddha Konasana.  I'm gaining strength in Setu Bandhasana and practiced it for a moment without any hands for support, as Kino instructed. Oh, and remember how I've been telling you that I need to work on Chakrasana?  Well, I just did it - right there in the middle of practice, like I'd been doing it my whole life.  WTF?

When it came time for my new pose, Jodi helped me with Pasasana.  She had mentioned we would introduce it soon so I don't think it was a surprise for her.  Then my backbends were filled with S-P-A-C-E and ease.  After backbends, Jodi has me work on lifting up into handstand with both feet together and then she spots me while I tip over into a backbend.  This series of events is usually quite chaotic and the "lift" part is a bit misleading because it's more like a jump and throw.  However, on Thursday my jumps into handstand were controlled and beautiful.  Jodi couldn't believe my progress and frankly, neither could I.  I kept thinking to myself, "Who are you!?!?"

It was SUCH a terrific practice and I left floating on cloud nine.  And to think, I almost dumped that in lieu of lunch.  But WHY was that practice so stunning?  (I mean, let me clarify - it wasn't stunning in an I-look-just-like-Kino sort of way.  Not at all.  But it was stunning, relatively speaking, for ME.)  Anyway, I pondered this all night long and I think it comes down to this:  I worked really, really hard for those three days I spent with Kino.  While in London, there weren't many huge breakthroughs.  But despite feeling tired and rundown, I showed up, did the work, and kept myself open to absorbing as much as I possibly could.  I think these sorts of experiences are sort of like a fine wine.  You open the wine and you have to let it breathe for a little while.  You pour it into your glass and wait, perhaps swirling it around before allowing it to settle.  Then and only then, will all of the best parts of the wine be ready to consume.  I think the workshops are like that.  It takes a few days for all of that to settle in the best possible way into our being.  It was only after I had a chance to let the weekend's teachings marinate that I was able to finally let them come forth in the most beneficial way for me, personally.

I get that this is all rather esoteric, but I find myself continually intrigued by the practice of Ashtanga.  It's one of the things I love most about it.  You never know what adventure lies before you each day on the mat until you show up and begin.  Some days you think you feel great and then quickly realize your body doesn't have much to give.  Other days, it's the opposite.  And then every once in a while, there's a day that comes along unlike any other that makes you feel so grateful for your own strength and grace that you want to weep.  I guess that's what Thursday was.  And it's days like that - the chance at grabbing another one of those - that keep me showing up.

This morning was a lovely Vinyasa Flow class with one of my favorite teachers, Ashley.  We highlighted backbends, so you know I was in heaven!  Tomorrow and Sunday I'm back in Teacher Training - filled with gratitude - to be home, for this practice, and for my life.


  1. loved reading your workshop posts. and yes, i find the same thing, that breakthroughs happen after a workshop/training, not during it, once my nervous system has had time to process it. congrats on the chakrasana. i love the way stuff can just magically come together in ashtanga practice..
    what type of cat is bentley..s/he is seriously adorable

    1. Thanks for validating what happened to me, Suzanne! I think "magical" is a good word to describe Ashtanga and how things evolve within the practice. I"m really in awe of it.

      And thanks for the praise of my kids! LOL. I guess the order of the photos didn't jive with the way I listed their names. Bentley is our dog. He's a Welsh Corgi. Theodore is the cat and he's a tabby Persian. I just love his smooshed little face and all that hair! We brush him every single night but it's not like Theodore would let us forget. He loves his brushings.