L.O.S. Up to Week 30, and the end of Course One
A couple of technical notes from the last couple of LOS weeks:
I was initially puzzled by the early inclusion of lotus, virasana, full Gomukhasana arms and similar tight binds of extreme shoulder or knee flexing that seem to elude the gen-pop. I’ve never really had problems with them in my own body, but as a teacher I rarely include them in a beginner or even a mixed level class, because it’s just too demoralizing..it separates practitioners instead of unifying them, or it becomes a tedious technical exegesis that doesn’t always reflect the needs of a post-work sweat followed by peace and quiet.
Because of my work teaching the good folks at my gym, I’ve been following Kelly Starret’s video/blog series, MobilityWOD. For those of you not familiar with the lingo, a WOD is a “workout of the day” and mobility refers specifically to joint and tissue movement, something often lacking in the tight strong bodies of athletes. So a couple of side notes:
– the more athletic fortitude I gain, the less patience I have for what I would term conventional alignment instruction; my internal sensitivity is reduced somewhat (although the LOS practice does help me regain it). I hold the pose for the requisite time but I do less tinkering around and futzing with subtlety. I just let it work on me.
– the more athletic fortitude I gain, the more I see that the tight binds and lotuses in Iyengar’s program are *mobility drills*: they fix e.g. The hand and elbow in the case of Gomukhasana or the foot and knee in the case of Lotus and then the relevant torso joint, shoulder and hip, MUST open. Or, open and re-stabilize with more relevance to the core, as in the case of the recently introduced Urdhva Padmasana and Pindasana in both headstand and shoulder stand.
K-Star would have an athlete under his tutelage take a hold of a vertical pole with her hand overhead and in the back plane, then hold the elbow with the free hand, so as to stabilize the two less relevant and more mobile joints, to open and then restabilize the shoulder. Much easier for the stiff and strong, but if a vertical pole is not available, I’m impressed at the biomechanical resourcefulness of Iyengar’s sequencing…and again, marveling at the consistency that different body-models maintain, even across time and out of context.
And subjective emo notes:
I LOVE THIS PRACTICE. I am so infatuated with Sirsasana that I’m sending it inappropriate text messages. And it’s important to remember during the close of Course One that it was not always thus, in fact, the vast majority of the initial days were a gruesome demoralizing slog. You gotta stick with it. The body works slowly, its vibration is slow, you gotta just show up and do the work. Now that I am more physically able on multiple levels, I’m getting greedy (ironically): I am less patient with myself and with others, I am more in a hurry to skip ahead to other shapes. And I have messed with the program here and there, inserting some thigh stretches occasionally, and what might be charitably termed an Anusaresque hip opening sequence, but other than that trying to remain as consistent and accurate as possible.
At the end of Course One BK finally offers Surya Namaskar, since he’s been prepping the constituent poses as long holds for weeks. He also gives a little three-day sampler plate that synthesizes and re-sequences the asanas shown to date, and I went full iNerd and used my circuit training timer app to generate accurate timing of all the poses, as given by the man himself. He claims that this course will restore and bring balance to body and mind and so far I can confirm his findings.
Current events: My plan to insinuate myself into the One Yoga For The People community was effective and I will be teaching at 7:30 pm on Fridays starting this week, throughout the rest of the summer. On Monday I was interviewed on The Yoga Voice podcast, created and sustained by my buddy Stacey, and a brilliant concept, so check those interviews out, and mine should be posted in a little while.