Jan.10, 2010 FOCUS: Seated forward bends and twists
viparita karani, legs up the wall pose
This afternoon I practiced viparita karani (legs up the wall) on my platform bed. At first, I thought I’d put on a cd but then decided against it, so I could enter a more meditative state. What happened was that I entered a more somnambulistic state.
My snoring woke me up 45 minutes later! There is something, some unknown quality, to a yogic nap that never fails to leave me feeling refreshed and wonderful.
Ten minutes of supta baddha konasana in the early evening. Became aware of energy moving upwards from lower torso. A good feeling!
At eleven o’clock I started for the studio for my usual before-bed practice. Just as I was heading down into the basement, there was a phone call from my daughter. What’s a mommy-yogini to do? I didn’t want to ignore my daughter, but I also didn’t want to ignore my practice. So I did both!
Donning headphones, I went to my mat that was already set up and waiting for me, and situated on a folded blanket, I practiced seated forward bends and twists as we chatted.
After our conversation, I sat in baddha konasana and practiced ujjayi breathing. I found it a challenge to lift mula bandha on the exhalation in this pose. Faith! practice will get me there. I kept my eyes open, gaze about two feet ahead of me on the floor and felt like an island of energy, breathing into the universe.
I struggled keeping my mind focused on the breath, much more so than usual. Perhaps it was the phone call, perhaps it was that Mike came down and began practicing on the other side of the room, perhaps it was due to my eyes being open. I almost never practice pranayama with open eyes, but I have been trying to keep my eyes open throughout my practice these days, in an effort to not drop so deep and still. I am striving to stay present, connected, and aware. Lots of room for growth here!
After the pranayama, I reclined for all three versions of supta padangusthasana (reclined leg lifts, holding the big toe) and supta pascimottanasana (two legs up, holding with a strap). Then I shifted to sphinx, and several cobras, playing with my hand positions. I noticed that as I moved my hands farther back, more in line with my waist, that it was easier to pull my tail/pubic bone down, creating more space in my lower back. A couple of bent-arm dogs to bent-arm planks pumped my blood and got the shakes going. I welcomed these muscle-strengthening shakes, though afterward rewarded myself with an extended balasana, child’s pose.
Time for shoulderstand, sarvangasana. My typical set-up uses three blankets and a mat piece on top. That supports my neck and shoulders. Usually I place a folding chair at the end of my mat for my feet to rest on during halasana, plough pose, but since I had stretched the backs of my legs so much with all of those forward bends, I decided to push it a bit and use a block. That worked fine.
Savasana. Even though my mind was quite active at the beginning of practice, as I remained in corpse, I traveled deeper and into quieter territory. Sometimes the journey within feels physical. Layer by layer dissolves into …what?…ether?, air?, the universe?,…or do we just let the outer layers slip out of our consciousness, they are there all along but we grow less aware of them? This would describe the yogic limb of PRATYAHARA, or sensory withdrawal.