Liza Skaria of Calgary AB shares her thoughts on the second day of the online intensive with Abhijata Iyengar…
Making connections to improve our practice instead of relying purely on muscle power
13 JUNE 2020 ; 6AM- 8AM
Do people ever learn? Once more I slept late and woke up feeling groggy. Although I have to add that the class yesterday set me up for a beautiful calm and joyous day being outside in the lovely weather. I ended the day with a lovely visit to a good friend that I haven’t seen for many months now. It felt good.In the moment.
We got right into practice today however. I was hoping for a slow start to stir me out of exhaustion. There is no rest for the wicked! But, I’m suspicious now. Did Abhi read my post from yesterday? Because we worked on that hip joint and lower back area that I complained about yesterday. I almost feel like I’ve had surgery done there today!
Adho Mukha Virasana
- Walk the hands forward to facilitate length
Adho Mukha Svanasa
- Hands on blocks at wall- conduces movement of shoulder joints
- Feet on blocks at wall – conduces movement of hip joints to lift lower back
- Middle of room – Try to integrate the connections learnt in both movements in steps 1 and 2
- To rest
- She observed how the hips moved. My first attempt at trikonanasna was heavy and I felt caught. I could see that my pelvic area was probably doing the same thing as the demonstrator on the screen – it was falling downward. Abhijata had observed this as well
- I felt caught where I normally do – at the connection of the thigh and groin of the bent leg. There is almost a feeling of a knot in that area.
- Intent: To start connecting the hips and groin to the buttock
- Stage 1: With the left side of the body close to the wall, we bent the right knee and got the foot into the groin of the left leg. And for a few moments we worked on mobility of the right hip by going backward and forward with the knee.
- Stage 2: Now we repeated this and tried to keep the left pelvis steady as it tends to move forward as we get the right knee backward and forward. I could see that we were trying to activate that hip to hip socket connection.
- Stage 3: Now we focused our attention on the standing leg connection to the bent leg foot. Integrating the hips by getting the standing leg pushing onto the foot.
- Repeat the three stages on the left
- Lying on our abdomen, we replicated vrksasana on the floor. I found it hard to get the right foot into the groin here. But when I started with lying on left side body and doing vrksasana before getting onto abdomen it was easier to get into the pose.
- Now here we attempted to do replicate the back and forth knee action that we did in vrksasana without lifting the foot off the floor or allowing to splay. Attempting it keeping the inner edge of the foot on the floor.
- And trying to get the buttock of the bent leg toward the floor – not allowing it to fly up.
- For those people having difficulty in the pose, they kept a folded blanket at their shin area
- Repeat on the left side
Utthita Trikonasana – Attempt 2
- Wow! I felt so much more connection from the hip into the socket. And could do lower down without feeling caught.
- Lying on our abdomen, we replicated vrksasana on the floor=, except this time we had the knee bent at 90 degree without getting the foot to the groin ( imagine doing parsvakonasna on the floor)
- Instant relief on the hip area for me!
- The work was in trying to lengthen from the groins toward the feet and get the inner groin closer to the floor.
- For those with difficulty a rolled blanket at the feet helped
- Once again we tried lifting and releasing that knee back and forth. Not very easy for me! And we also learnt to rotate the abdomen and chest away from the bent leg. This gives space at the groin area
- Lastly, we added a brick under the knee here (for additional torture). But try it, it might help you!
- Repeat on other side
Utthita Parsvakonasana – Attempt 2
- Once again after that hip work, I could sense so much more connection here! I still could sense that ball of tightness at the groin, but can see how it had started to dissolve.
Supta Padangusthasana 2
- A typical pose but this time working to keep the right leg (that was going to the side) in line with the hip instead of trying to get the foot toward the head.
- Watching the leg to see if we had rotated it too much. The skin of the thigh and knees need to face directly upward not toward either wall to know if we overdid or underdid.
All the connections made so far in class, helped make this so much more restful due to the space and mobility created here.
Without repeating on the left side, we directly went into
- This time the right leg was the standing leg replicating the actions learnt on the ground.
- We used the wall as a support so that we could take that groin in.
- I could have stayed here forever!
- Here again, we kept learning to maintain that hip connection. How? Firstly getting the foot connected to the other leg inner thigh. Understanding that the movement in this pose comes from the bent leg hip work. And really focusing on that and getting the hip down, helped us have so much ease in the pose as we came down..
- Here again, I learnt that working on the straight leg hip area and getting it back and down helped access the twisting action so much more that I could almost face the ceiling.
- I really need to work on restoring relaxation into the paraspinal area and the lumbar connections.
- Never felt so tight here!
- The same action was used to learn how to get the hand to the feet as opposed to the ankle and bearing our weight on the ankle.
- I’ve work to do there!
Parivritta Upavistha Konasana
- Ah! The inner groin moving downward and the back groin moving downward – so much more stability in the pose and mobility to twist in this
- Felt so much more lift and lightness in my legs after the hip work. I really could feel that back buttock area lift so much. So much to really assimilate into my body and practice!
Set Bandha Sarvangasana
- We did a restful version with a single bolster and a two fold blanket on top. After staying for sometime , we took an open belt and got it around our feet. Using our straight arms to hold that belt, we got the hands moving toward the feet. This gave an automatic traction to the neck area which felt fantastic. She then made us work at getting our shoulder blades upward without lifting or straining the neck and the head. Working on a pranayama position in an asana. Wonderful. Definitely going to add that into my regular practice. The inhalations were used to lift the shoulder blades and sternum and we worked on maintaining the lift in our exhalation
- Then we let go of the belt and relaxed
- With our knees on the bolster to remove any back strain and fatigue. She said that too much rest also causes restlessness. So we need to practice savasana as well. I am reminded of the long 20 minute savasana I was advised to do in Kerala. It truly is a pose that needs work. To get that sense of restoration and support in every pore, one has to learn to listen to the intelligence coming from every cell.
To me, this class was about understanding the crux of a pose and making those connections. Learning to thread that same motion in all its forms – as supta padang in a supine version, as ardha chandrasna in a standing version, as upavistha konasana as a seated version…learning to understand how to teach the body to respond and watching the two sides carefully so that one can teach the other. We are truly blessed to have learnt from Mr. Iyengar, the genius who like a scientist carefully dissected the human body to understand its movements.