Practice with Atsuro Chiba
Ashtanga Mysore Practice on Aug 22nd and 23rd, 2018
Whenever I take classes from a gust instructor, I tend to get nervous because of the unknown. The teacher doesn't know my body, nor is he/she aware of my progress. That said, I try my best to stay calm and practice as usual today. The main focus to me is to Do My Practice as It Is. Atsuro is very mindful and he pays attention to details. If he assists or adjusts a student on one side of the certain asana, he makes sure that he adjusts the second side to make sure both sides get the equal attention. One of the most remarkable adjustment from him is Utthita Parivrtta Trikonasana. I don't know how to describe it but he uses almost every part of his body to help me get deeper into the twist. He uses one to ground my back foot, his knee to help the spinal twist, one hand to stabilize the pelvis and the other hand to open my chest. You wouldn't know how good it feels until you experience it.
Prasarita Padottanasana -
I usually receive the adjustment in Prasarita Padottanasana C and the one from Atsuro was exceptional. Instead of simply taking my hands toward the ground, he brought my torso back in between legs. I felt deeper hamstrings and inner thighs stretch by doing so. As I folded deeper, my hands were even closer to the floor. Atsuro also gave me a recommendation when doing Prasarita Padottanasana D. He suggested me to bring my feet closer (shorter stand) to keep the neck long. When my feet were about leg length width apart, there was lots of space as I fold forward. I tucked the chin in allowing the back of the head to touch the ground. As a result, my neck was short and compressed. If my feet were closer, the crown of the head would be touching the ground not the back of the head, which would keep my neck long. I have been taking his advice and experiment the stand in my practice.
I get help in Kapotasana almost every time when I practice with my teacher or guest instructors. It has been over a year since I was given this posture. When I first practiced it, my finger tips barely touched toe tips, even with the help from the teacher. In addition, I got dizzy and panicking (thought I was going to pass out) when doing such deep backbend. I had lots of fear doing this asana. With consistent practice, I have no more "panic attack" and I am making progress little by little, day after day.
Lately, I like to warm up Kapotasana using the wall. After I did the warm up against the wall as well as Kapotasana A & B, Atsuro came by and stood in front of me with a smile. "Was I supposed to do it again?" Sure, I was. I could grab heels with his help. The challenging part was to keep elbows in and forearms down, which were areas I notice the difference between sides. My left shoulder is tighter and it's hard to keep the elbow in and to bring the forearm to the ground. In Kapotasana B, Atsuro firmly pressed my pelvis down and asked me to pressed up. Since I was pressing up strongly, as soon as he let go his hands, I came up and exited from the pose.
I witness lots of emotions coming and going when doing Kapotasana. It was fear and pain that bothered me in the past. Today, I feel the openness and relief. It's the feeling of Letting Go.
Practice and all is coming.
What is coming is the progress I've made along the journey. Knowing who I am, being self-acceptance, dealing with injuries and samskaras, and practicing non-attachments.
Laghu Vajrasana -
With Atsuro's assist, I was able to grab toes when doing Laghu Vajrasana. If my legs were pressed down (ground) too much, hands normally slid off. Thanks Veronica (the studio owner of Downtown Yoga Shala) to catch this moment for me.
Urdhva Dhanurasana, Drop Back -
I focus a lot on backbends in my practice and I have been making lots of progress. Before starting Ashtanga practice, I disliked backbends. I came up with lots of excuses to not do it in Vinyasa classes, but I had not choice in Ashtanga. I have to say, the more I practice, the more I enjoy doing backbends. I love the openness of the heart, upper back and front thighs. Harmony and Lisa were the first teachera who guided to me grab ankles in Urdhva Dhanurasana early this year. Ever since that, I haven't done so until I worked with Atsuro this time. He put emphasis on legs strength, which meant there was more weight on my feet. By doing so, I was able to stay grounded while my hands were grabbing ankles. Otherwise, I would fall back and land on forearms.
I love yoga for many reasons. What brought me to yoga initially was to release stress from work, but it gradually grows on me. Today, it has become my lifestyle. Harmony is coming to Downtown Yoga Shala in Jan, 2019. I can't wait to practice with her again.
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