I had big plans for this week of attending yoga class everyday, but work got in the way, and then Thanksgiving Day did not come with a free morning so that I could go to Susan Bowen’s two-hour glass. Instead, I started on Friday morning with my first class with Dave Bowen. Today, I took Susan’s hot vinyasa class. After both classes, I went to the gym to put in 60-75 minutes of cardio work to build up stamina and strength. I need to build up continuity in my formal practice, and just going on weekends to class will not do that.
As I go through the routines in class, it’s an odd feeling because my weekly body work with Howard Rontal and nightly self-massage and restorative practice have loosened me up tremendously. I’ve removed a lot of the old restraints and false bottoms, but I really have not got control over all my muscles to take advantage of it. For instance, something as simple as Warrior III or Half Moon require me to sustain my hips, but I can’t hold them for long. But I can point to some poses where I feel a real difference:
Plow pose (Halasana): today, I was able to get into the pose and not feel as if I was suffocating. Three years ago, I could do this pose without any problem, but after putting on more weight, it became extremely uncomfortable. It seemed as if my intestines/stomach/liver were pressing down on my diaphragm and obstructing my breath, while my collar bone seemed to cut my wind pipe. Something like deadman’s pose (a modification of plow that brings the knees closer to the chest) was out of the question.
Reclined Hero’s pose (Supta Virasana): Following my knee operation, I considered this pose forbidden territory. More than stressing the knees, it seemed to strain the small of my back. Another complication was that my feet were too stiff to let my shines rest firmly on the mat, so I was always starting up high.
Wheel or Upward Bow pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana): My tight shoulders made this pose a real challenge for me. It took me ages to loosen up enough, but since September it’s a liberating experience. I find myself doing push-ups in wheel, lowering my head to the floor and then extending up again. I also feel the pose as expression of my legs, more than the arch of my core and back.