breath, life, meditation, Uncategorized, yoga

My Week in Ashtanga Yoga (1/1/18-1/7/18):

This week, I’ve been doing my practice twice a day to make progress toward my current struggle pose, Eka Pada Sirsasana. Although this was meant to be a self-inflicted form of punishment for not being able to do the pose by my deadline, which was last week, I’ve actually really been enjoying spending the 4-5 hours per day on my yoga mat. I am finding a balance between believing I can do the pose and expecting that I will be able to do the pose. I am finding gratitude for each failed attempt.

I am allowing myself to slow down and focus on refining other parts of my practice instead of focusing on the last pose for my entire practice. For example, I’ve started flipping both feet at the same time during my vinyasas. I had become accustomed to flipping one foot at a time due to having broken a toe a few months ago. My teacher warned me that flipping one foot at a time can eventually cause injury to the Psoas muscle. At the time, I allowed myself to practice incorrectly, in a way that could potentially cause harm. Now, I’m focused on creating new and healthier habits.

On Thursday, I had the absolute pleasure of witnessing the beginning of my teacher’s practice as I finished mine. She actually began her Surya Namaskar A’s (first part of the practice) right as I was struggling through my three sets of Eka Pada Sirsasana. Her strong, steady breath guided me through the struggle and brought peace of mind, even when I wanted to beat myself up for my shortcomings. After my finishing poses, I stayed for a bit to watch her practice and to assist her with one of the poses (that’s nearly impossible to do alone). I felt as if I was in the presence of an angel watching her flow through the second series with such ease. Asanas which take me literal minutes of mental and physical preparation to get into, my teacher moves into them seemlessly, without wasting a single breath. Not only is she an strong and dedicated practitioner, she is the kindest, most patient, and most gentle teacher I could ask for to guide me through this practice.

On Friday, something pretty intense happened. I was preparing for Kapotasana, which is a super intense backbend that happens over an hour into my practice, so I was mustering up whatever energy I could. Kapotasana (pictured below) involves standing in a kneeling position while reaching upwards and backward in order to catch your heels. It takes me about 60 seconds just to get into the pose because I usually drop my hands back to the floor behind me, then walk in from there to grab my heels. My teacher walked over and said that I was going to catch my heels directly from hanging in the backbend… without touching the floor first. I must have looked at her like she had two heads. The vulnerable feeling that results from this asana had not allowed me, up to this point, to receive an assist from any teacher in order to deepen the pose, and I knew that in order to do this, I was going to need her help. It was time to surrender. After a bit of convincing, I finally allowed her to help me do the work that I really needed to do… not because I needed to get into the pose without touching the floor, but because I needed to let go of the fear that was blocking me from even attempting it, the fear of allowing someone to help me in my most vulnerable state, the fear of surrender.

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After a week of intense physical work, I took some time this weekend to let my body rest and to reflect on some of the internal work I had done this week. I realized that perhaps the blockage I have been feeling in my left hip has a basis in my subtle or emotional body. Trauma can often manifest in physical blockages in the body and will not subside until the root cause has been dealt with, which are the emotions underneath the traumatic experience. My work next week will involve studying this further, and dealing with whatever pops up… Wish me luck! XD

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