Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sometimes, Yoga Kicks Asana

Although I was inspired earlier in the week to focus on thinking and writing about living yoga off the mat, I still wanted to include the post I had started the other day about asana practice and my teacher training progress.  

While the truest intention of yoga places importance on a balance on many intellectual and spiritual concepts other than physical practice, there is a time and place for asana practice.  Practicing on the mat brings physical, mental, and energetic benefits that are important.  You can't really LIVE your life if you are constantly plagued by preventable physical ailments.  Besides, sometimes it just feels good to sweat, or to face (and overcome) physical challenges.

Andplusalso, endorphins are pretty awesome.

This entire post stems from last weekend's AWESOME teacher training line-up:  Partner Yoga, Pranassage, restorative yoga (a nearly 2 hour practice!), teaching private sessions, discussion of yoga/teaching ethics, and ARM BALANCES!  It was pretty much all of my favorite stuff (except for inversions) rolled into one neat little weekend.

Through the weekend, I ended up making some huge breakthroughs in my personal practice--including conquering several different challenging asanas.  Unfortunately, I didn't get photos of myself in any of them... so you'll have to settle for photos of other people in the same poses.  
Partner Yoga: Flying Dhanurasana
I kind of sucked as a base during our partner yoga practice--which was kind of weird since I've flown Duff Man before (and he's a pretty big guy).  For some reason I just couldn't stabilize myself enough to fly any of my fellow teacher trainees on that particular night.  Oh well.  I had an awesome night as a flyer instead.  We started in "Bird," and then I got most of the way into Dhanurasana (bow).  My hands didn't quite reach my feet, but they came pretty darn close.  I LOVE Partner Yoga and I really hope I get to try this one again.  When I got home, I realized that it's basically the same as THE lift in Dirty Dancing.
"Now I've had the time of my life..."
Arm Balances!
I LOVE arm balances, and having attended several arm balance workshops, a number of the poses are pretty routine for me and I play with them all the time.  However, despite my repeated practice, I've never been able to do a Side Crow with leg extension, Tittibasana, or Yogini Dandasana--until this past weekend!  I kicked some asana during our Arm Balance practice and was able to hold all of these poses (on both sides) for a couple of breaths each.

Parsva Bakasana (Twisted Crow with Leg Extension)
[Update: I just learned today (10/30) that this is actually Eka Pada Koundinyasana I!  Eka Pada Koundinyasana II is one of my favorite poses.  I had no idea!]
Yogini Dandasana
(Yes, the same one that was nothing more than a glorified mat splat in August!)
Photo courtesy of Peg Mulqueen at
Tittibasana (Firefly)
Okay, my tittibasana looks nothing like that--my butt barely makes it off the ground.  I'm proud of the fact that I was able to get into it at all--it's WAY harder than it looks.  


As an aside, if you've never taken a yoga class with me before you should really consider it.  In addition to arm balance fun, this week I performed a perfect slide-tackle transitioning to a mat splat in order to take the last available spot in the back of the studio.  It was pretty awesome.  The same class ended with the traditional Sanskrit chant of Mahna Mahna.  What, you haven't chanted that before in class?  Clearly my studio is more enlightened than yours.  

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