Hip Openers and Resisting Temptation

Photo: Rumbaugh demoing a yoga variation on half pigeon poseThis weekend I am participating in the Desirée Rumbaugh‘s “Heart Stimulus Plan” workshop at Thrive Yoga as resident photographer and yogi pretender. Four two and a half hour sessions. Thankfully, we had MLK’s birthday holiday on Monday so I will have a day to recover from this excess. Tonight, it was a sizeable class, but there was still room to spare. I’ve heard that there are still spaces available for the other sessions.

Tonight we worked on hip-openers and inversions: inversions were stuffed into the last 20 minutes (not a complaint), and Desiree really led us through a series of demos and highly focused postures that gradually led us deeper and deeper into the contradictions of how to spread your sit bones. This was not a vinyasa flow class with sequencing to work up a sweat and work the whole body (as with the Brian Kest workshop in October.) No, Desirée had us apply “shins forward and hugging to the midline, thighs back and spiraling inward, hips scooped to support the core and spine.” Anyone who has taken an Anusara class knows the alignment principles that are repeated over and over again. If you confront this vocabulary for the first time, you’re baffled, but Desirée does a good job of wittily describing and joyously demoing how the principles are applied in poses.

Photo: Rumbaugh showing how to get in splitsAt the end of the class, I sat crosslegged in Easy Pose (Sukhasana) on my mat. In the past, my right hip was always so tight that my knee would jut up at a 45 degree angle. More recently, my left hip had actually opened up substantially and came close to resting on the ground (“cheating” with a blanket under my hips). Tonight both hips were open and I could rest both legs on the ground. Even though I was protecting of my right knee like crazy, not pushing it too far, pulling back from the edge, that’s progress. Maybe I should not give up all hope of one day doing Lotus (Padmasana)

The danger with Desirée is that she is so inspired and energetic that you want to follow her off the deep end, take a pose to the next level and compete with your neighbor as to who can get deeper in a split (not me). Desiree warned us that we need to protect ourselves with the right tools and techniques.

Well, I have two sessions tomorrow so I should to bed. I need sleep.