Returning to the Mat

The summer was very busy – sister’s wedding, taking a math course – and I knew it would be difficult to have a regular practice. I did manage some practice here and there; I ended up visiting three yoga studios.

Now that I am back in the north, I would like to do more asana practice. Some additional goals include:

  • Longer vinyasas: Sometimes I get lazy and only do classes that are under 30 minutes long. I would like to be more efficient with my workouts and do longer vinyasas to build endurance. This could also include more Ashtanga yoga, perhaps using the Lesley Fightmaster classes to start.
  • Be more cautious of joints: When I went to the Ashtanga Yoga Centre of Toronto, the instructor adjusted my elbows in downward dog. Rather than locking the arms out, she asked me to put a slight bend, which disperses the load to other areas (I immediately felt my triceps burning). Just last month, a fellow Cody athelete, D., tipped me off that all handstand practices should include a microbend; she had already damaged her elbows from a decade of locking them out in gymnastics as a teenager. And yet another IGer, K., complained of arm pain in side plank, which I also experience; she suggested I read up more on hypermobility and how it is linked to arthritis. This video explains how the shoulder should be stacked during vasisthasana. Having already mentioned downward dog and side plank, there are still several poses that one must be careful of; the elbows can be susceptible to further strain if one does not make small adjustments to in a number of common poses.
  • Continuous core work: I am a slacker. I need to try Dave Durante’s plan and have been putting this off considerably …. Core allows everything else to come together and I need to push myself harder on this front.
  • Practicing asanas on the weak side: I am able to do a number of poses, such as Fallen Angel’s Pose, but really need to work on the weak side.
  • Practicing asanas I am scared of or are avoiding: I finally did some work for tittibhasana, or firefly pose. I’d been putting this one off due to lack of foundation (i.e. shoulder, hip and core). Last night, did a 20-minute Kathryn Budig class on the hamstrings and the hip first. When I tried firefly, I wasn’t falling flat on my butt like I had in the past. I worked on it for about half an hour; below is a video of my best attempt. I can get into bhujapidasana with no issues, but flying is trickier. Within about 15 minutes, I found my feet extending the farthest ever! Difficult asanas are achievable, but it is important to have a good base first. It makes sense that I’m working on firefly now, after a year, now that I am better at engaging the hip flexors and relaxing the hamstrings.

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