breath, kindness

Obstacles: Snow, dogs, sciatica, chest cold

Usually I get up and go for a walk before the dogs are up.  Then I come back, take them outside, and then feed them and practice pranayama. It snowed, so I couldn’t go for my walk. It’s not possible to get up and sneak down to my practice space without waking the dogs.  Buster won’t go outside without a human, which means getting fully dressed, with boots, coat, mittens, hat, etc.  Then after the dogs have been out, they, or at least Sadie, must eat. Then Buster finds it necessary to accompany me to the mat.  “Off the mat.  Off the mat!” He’s doesn’t know that command.

The chest cold would necessitate sitting upright for pranayama, or at least with chest raised.  Sitting isn’t so great with sciatica, so I supported my chest with a bolster.  I just couldn’t last 20 minutes.

Wow, what a whiny post!  I think I will congratulate myself on some Ujjayi breathing and Savasana for 12 minutes.  Good job, Mary!

hard stuff, kindness, self-talk

Self-instruction through photos

Yikes! I asked my husband to take some photos of me doing yoga, and it was very instructive. I know perfectly well how stiff I am, but I don’t really ever get to see it. I just want to reach right into these photos and push on my body to get it into better alignment!

(Sorry about the dog. I was trying to get photos of us both doing Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog.)

Straighten your arms.  Lift your sitting bones.  Drop your heels.  Your stance is too narrow.
Straighten your arms. Lift your sitting bones. Drop your heels. Your stance is too narrow.
No effortless effort here! Arms are not straight.  Hip is too high.  Feet aren't stacked.  Cripe.
No effortless effort here! Arms are not straight. Hip is too high. Feet aren't stacked. Cripe.
Ooh, that left hip is too high and tipping forward.  I need a straight line from heel to fingertips, and I don't see it.  Can't I go a little lower?  And that outer edge of my back foot needs to go to the floor.
Ooh, that left hip is too high and tipping forward. I need a straight line from heel to fingertips, and I don't see it. Can't I go a little lower? And that outer edge of my back foot needs to go to the floor.

The last thing I should say in this post is that I could be a little kinder to myself.  If I were teaching I’d never speak to a student this way.  That’s a pretty big piece of self-instruction right there.

kindness

Practicing together

In January, as part of YoMo, I invited several friends to practice with me on Friday mornings.  My original ideas were that it would be only for January, and that it would be restorative.

As it turns out, we’ve continued our practice, and it seems to me that all of us have benefitted.  We learn from each other, we gently correct each other or suggest other ways to move into the poses, and we all work hard.  It’s not restorative, most of the time, but it’s relatively gentle.

It doesn’t matter that D and B can put their foreheads on the ground in Upavistha Konasana, and P, K, and I need the wall to keep from flipping over backwards in the pose.

One of the best parts is that we talk things over.  Should we do another set of Virabhadrasana III? Nobody wants to be the whiner saying “Noooo!” So we encourage each other.  We have certain asanas we do almost every time.  Today we were doing lunges as part of Supta Virasana prep, which we do often. We had a good discussion of the differences between having your knee on the ground or not, or toes pointing back or bent under, or leaning forward onto the floor or more upright with hands on the bent knee.

This is going to be one of my YoMo suggestions – that people find others to practice with.

Upavista Konasana
Upavista Konasana
Virabhadrasana III
Virabhadrasana III

 

Supta Virasana
Supta Virasana
breath, kindness, mulling things over

Beginning, middle, end

At the beginning of home practice I like to do some sort of centering to be present on the mat.  Yesterday in our group practice we chanted “om” three times.  Just as we inhaled for the first time, the phone rang. My husband wasn’t home to answer it.  “Let’s just keep going,” I said.  The ringing didn’t impede our centering.

In the middle I try to pay attention to what I’m doing.  It seems fine to chitchat when practicing with friends, although we never (or rarely) do so in class.  Much of the chat has to do with what we’re doing anyway.  We help each other with alignment, remind each other to breathe, comment on how the asana feels. It’s gentle and companionable.

At the end it’s time to come back to the world.  Sometimes we say something more than “namaste”, and sometimes not.  Most often I think something, such as:

  • All one breath
    or
  • Bow head to heart, surrender ego to compassion, and honor the divine within
    or
  • This is perfect, that is perfect, from the perfect springs the perfect.  When perfect is taken from perfect, perfect remains.

I am doing yoga for my body, most certainly. I am also doing it for awareness of that one breath. If we know we are all breathing the same breath, how can we fail to be compassionate?

kindness, mulling things over

Yes, yes, yes, I am

You might think that because I haven’t posted much lately that I haven’t been practicing, but I have.  Sometimes it’s lame as can be, but I’m doing it.  Yesterday I had trouble sleeping, and so I got up early and did a slow restorative practice.  I ended up in Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle), and slept there for close to an hour.  I really needed that.

supta_baddha_konasana
Supta Baddha Konasana