October Practice Journal

Red and Green leaves (barefoot photos)

Occasionally, it’s helpful to look at the trends in your practice over time.

For me, this month started out with a focus on the inversions of downward facing dog, headstand, shoulderstand, and plough, but then, when I experienced more and more tightening in my right shoulder that I wasn’t able to release no matter what I tried,

so I moved into a set of more involved (than my usual morning) guided seated meditations on wisdom dakinis from a cd of Tsultrim Allione

and then morphed into a strong forward bending exploration and practice (which had begun while listening to the explanatory parts of the cd).

It wasn’t quite as straightforward as it sounds. There was overlap and occasional days of doing something completely different, such as the day I was tired and practiced a couple restorative asanas, or the day I focused on backbends for a change.

Each practice group offered its own surprise teaching that provided intrinsic motivation to continue. Headstand continues to amaze me as I slowly hold my feet off the wall for longer amounts of time. Each day with the inversions is its own, and change, for me, is seen gradually, over time. I vary the way I do shoulderstand and plough, both the amount of support (number of blankets, chair, blocks, strap)  used and the type of support (whether on feet wall, or sacrum on a chair, whether blankets or rolled mat or bolster beneath neck). That keeps practice an interesting exploration of mindful awareness of the body.

Other days I practice strengthening for inversions, without actually inverting. I’m heading more in that direction, especially as I observe Mike building his chaturanga practice.

The Tibetan guided meditations have helped me learn to transform my negative emotions into positive. Whewee….I need lots of more work in that arena!

Blazing Maple Leaves (barefoot photos)

The forward bends have really been a pleasure as I’ve discovered with increased hamstring flexibility, some poses such as heron and ubbaya are now open to me. However, not only could I not do ubbaya a week later, my ego was kept at bay a little bit by Judith Hanson Lasater’s advice that if you think you love a pose, try holding it for five minutes. I tried holding uttanasana for five and uh, it was certainly a challenge.

For one thing, I noticed how I moved my head and my gaze to different places in an effort to remain in the pose. That was coupled with my mind outscreaming my hamstrings. A person could become deaf in all of that noise. I wonder, if I can learn to breathe into that screaming, what will happen?

Following that practice with teaching three classes on Thursday loaded with forward folds and geesh, my back is feeling the effects.

Backbends, I’m heading your way tonight.

Every practice begins with listening. Every practice ends with opening into being.

What’re the trends in your practice lately? I’d love to hear about them.

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