3/31/2017 Practice Journal
Ashtanga Mysore Practice Journal
Like I mentioned yesterday, there is no bad practice. All practices are good practices, and my practice today was no exception. I drag myself to the studio almost every morning asking why I wake up so early for. And I always find the answer during and after the practice. It is the connection I have with my body and with the community that bring me to the practice over and over. It is hard work but I enjoy it.
Again, I was working on the most challenging pose, Kapotasana, today. Right when I was in the pose that my fingertips touched the toes, I heard my teacher called out my name saying "lift your heart up more, thigh bones more forward, ground your shin bones down and more..." Then she came over to lift my heart and brought my hands to grab the heels. Oh boy!!! She took me into a whole new level of the Kapotasana, which in fact felt pretty good. But, it also meant I have more work to do. Without her assistant, I probably couldn't get into such deep pose by myself NOT JUST YET.
By the way, my arms and shoulders are sore today from yesterday's practice. The Kapotasana is not just a deep back bend. It also requires deep shoulder opening. I could feel how my shoulders limited me from going deeper to the pose. I pushed myself a little more than my comfort zone yesterday, and then those muscle groups are "on fire" today.
Mysore practice takes lots of dedication, discipline and perseverance.
3/30/2017 Practice Journal
Ashtanga Mysore Practice
I didn't have a good sleep last night. I had some weird dreams, but that shouldn't be the excuse of me not being mindful. The beginning of my practice (during Surya Namaskar B) was a mess. My body was in the room, but my mind was somewhere else. Instead of starting with Virabhadrasana I on the right side, I was doing left side first. And then I missed the chair pose, Utkatasana. Gladly, I was able to draw my awareness back to the present moment after Surya Namaskar B. It turned out to be a good practice. Well, all practices are good practices, and there shouldn't be any bad one per se.
Today was the fourth time I practiced Kapotasana, and it was the first time without help from my teacher. I was pretty surprised that I was able to get into the pose (fingertips touched toes while forearms were on the ground). I had no idea how well I did, but I could feel how deep that backbend was. I heard my heart pounding. It took me a minute or so bring my heart rate back to normal. I know I did better than last time, but it wasn't the best I've done because I will do better tomorrow.
3/28/2017 Practice Journal
Ashtanga Mysore Practice Journal
The focuses of my practice today were the flexibility in the ankle and twisting, particularly Marichyasana D and Pashasana. I remember it took me about a month to be able to bind without help in Marichyasana D. Before I was able to do it, I was always wondering if I could do it one day. Yes, I can. Nowadays, I am working on Pashasana. I run into the same obstacle as before that I am not able to bind without assistant. The second voice in my head comes out again, will I be able to get into the pose one day?" My answer is yes, but I need more practice.
Good ankle stability and flexibility as well as lengthening side body and sucking belly in (rounding lower back) are needed for these two poses. Since I sprained my left ankle about 3 months ago, I had been modifying Marichyasana B & D, Baddha Konasana, and any lotus related asana. I slowly worked my way into the full poses after recovering (few weeks ago), but Marichyasana D was never the same as it used to be. For that reason, I decided to bring my focus to these areas today. Whether it was the mindfulness I brought into the practice or not, I felt I was able to do Marichyasana D the way I used to before injury. In addition, I finally overcame left and right sides asymmetry. The left side had been more challenging for me than the right. I could bind in both sides, but right side was always easier. With a small tip from my teacher today, I finally felt both sides were symmetric.
With the progress I felt in Marichyasana D, I thought I could bind in Pashasana without help. Although I didn't bind in Pashasana today, I am not giving up. I know one day I will get it. It didn't happen today doesn't mean it will never happen.
We learn from experiences, failures and mistakes. Never give up!!!
3/24/2017 - Practice Journal
Ashtanga Practice Journal
It's never easy to wake up early in the morning, and this morning wasn't an exception. With quite a few new poses given to me lately, the practice is getting more and more challenging. Well, it's never an easy practice anyway.
Adding the Second Series to the practice has improved my drop back to Urdhva Dhanurasana tremendously. From Shalabasana, my back muscles and glutes are strengthen. From Laghu Vajrasana, my quads are getting stronger. Then my shoulders and the front body are opening up more from Bhekasana, Dhanurasana and Ustrasana. With all the asanas I have been practicing, I definitely can see the improvement on my drop back. And today was probably the best I've done so far. I am two inches away from doing the full drop back instead.
I have been able to do the drop back and come up from Urdhva Dharnurasana without problem, except my feet would turn outward when coming up. My work has been to keep the toes pointing forward (or slightly turning inward) while dropping back and coming up without stepping forward. I started with setting up three foam blocks (about 6" tall) on the floor. The idea is to drop back to where (to the foam blocks) I can come up with control instead of using momentum. Since I have full control of coming up, my feet are grounded, no stepping forward and no toes turning outward. So 6" was my starting point. I did that for few months and then graduated to two blocks (4"). Then I stuck with two blocks for the last year or so. I just couldn't keep my feet grounded when coming up with 1 block until this week. In the last few days, I warmed up with two blocks and moved my way to one block. Today, I just went directly to one block, and I was so proud of my accomplishment. I totally nailed it.!!!
Practice, practice, and more practice!!! Having faith in yourself and knowing all the asanas are in the body. You would be surprised of what your body can do.
3/23/2017 - Practice Journal
I felt extremely calm this morning, smooth and steady breathes. The calmness was gone as I got into utthita hasta padangusthasana. My heart rate went up, my breath became shallow and I started sweating. The fast heart beat continued until I started the seated sequence. I have noticed this pattern since I started Ashtanga practice. Instead of changing it, I have been watching the pattern as it comes and goes.
Today was my second time doing Kapotasana (with assistance from my teacher). Compared to the first time (two days ago), my body was definitely more opened up and prepared for the pose. This is the beauty of consistent practice. Sometimes I notice significant progress and sometimes I acknowledge the micro improvement in my practice.
While I thought I could move on the the finishing sequence, my teacher called out my name and asked me to do the next pose, supta vajrasana. uhh...sure!!! So there, I got one new pose again today. Compared to kapotasana, supta vajrasana was not as challenging but it was not easy per se.
The more I practice, the more I LOVE to practice. This is the charm of yoga. An hour 45 minutes to 2 hours practice in the morning, it's solely reserved for ME to find connection with the SELF.
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