Tadasana, Vrksasana, Utthita Trikonasana, Parsva Konasana, Virabhadrasana I, Virabhadrasana II, Parsvottanasana, Salamba Sarvangasana I, Halasana, Savasana
This is outing myself even further, but what the hell: I’ve never really felt I *had* to practice alignment. I was in various forms of discomfort, all of which felt pretty much under my control, either physical or energetic, and I could basically dial them up or down at will. If I got a little zany, some repeated stuff would come up, and I’d feel it happen and sort of stupidly decide in any given moment to go into the repeated stuff or dodge it, usually go into it, and then deal with the aftermath in my own perverse way. And the alignment certainly helped with some discomfort, and it made my poses improve, and it gave me some stuff to think about. It helped me start to see things in other bodies and see more within. But I never really HAD to think about it if I didn’t want to. I could do a crappy pose and the worse thing that would happen is I might have to crack my SI joint like a knuckle and all would be well.
Not so post-partum, which has removed pretty much all the spontaneous joy from yoga for me. It no longer feels good and free to
move. Which is cool because Mr Iyengar has made it clear that he doesn’t want me to feel good OR free, he just wants me to work hard and take care of business. So, henceforth he and I are in agreement: I picture him berating me and whacking me across the
How many hours have I spent in front of this thing?
flank with a stick. The consequence of not moving intelligently is devastating pain that lasts for days and could previously only be alleviated either by not doing any sort of movement endeavour [which was making me big and slow] or bodywork [which, while delightful, was starting to be a bit of a cash-flow issue] so I suppose I have my own internal stick with which to whack myself. Again, I’ve never felt anything like this before: such a joyless squashing of the creativity I had come to associate with the practice: but after like the 50th time I assed myself up pretending things were OK I finally, reluctantly, learned.
The practice above is not any practice that I would either sequence for my students or come up with for my home practice. In fact, it used to look so Goddamn tedious I didn’t take it seriously on any level whatsoever. In the last two weeks it has come to be as comfortable and healing as one of those old Epsom salt footbaths in your Grandma’s bathroom.. I read the accompanying material and terse and sometimes elliptical alignment instructions [for example, M and I had to Google what was intended by “firm loins”]. I read the therapeutic applications, and marvel at the difference between what Mr Iyengar thinks these poses are good for and what my other teachers have said they were good for, and how they felt to me. Then I do the pose for the recommended amount of breaths/time, and let it go. I’ve only had to miss two days due to flu in the last two weeks. That’s not bad with twins. [Mr Iyengar was silent on the calibre of a seeker with twins.]
My notes: Vrksasana is great for improving blood flow and fat/fluid removal from post-partum inner thighs. The innervation seems stronger there now, even though it’s pretty painful in a skin-tightening sort of way when you’re in it [i.e. not joint or muscle pain, just that irritating asana pain about which nothing can be done]. It’s nice to practice Vira I again, it’s always so nostalgic, and is a nice stretch for the lateral gastrocnemius and soleus provided the heel is correctly rooted. A five-minute shoulderstand is really an ass-kicker. I am not yet strong enough to do it for the full time every time but luckily [?] it repeats for what looks like several more weeks. I did enjoy his aside about how Shoulderstand is the “mother” now that I’m a mother: taking care of all the systems, keeping the household/body in tandem and smooth working order. It’s SOMEWHAT less misogynist than his other asides.
But what’s been especially rad about this first small foray on a multi-year endeavour is that, due to the specificity of the work and the pain of misaligning, my whole body is lighting up like the Anatomy Colouring Book, and each practice colours in a bit more. At some point in e.g. Trikonasana, I will be doing my level best to firm my loins &c., and across my consciousness will float:
“…left side quadratus femoris…”
“…top fibres of right oblique…”
and the electricity of my studies colours in the fibres of the newly contracting muscle in e.g. bright blue [it’s usually blue]. The names are always in italic, bold Garamond, and they always have those little ellipses around them.
Now, I’m not an anatomy pro; I’m not a doctor, although I do play one on TV. Assisting Chris got my head in the game and I’ve been doing my best ever since. This is a new level of synthesis, of study/awareness/sensation/ healing. It’s pretty awesome. The pain has given me one of those packs of rainbow-coloured felt-tip markers, and as long as I don’t quit, I’ll just keep filling everything in.