February 1, Friday:

Surya Namaskara A & B, 5x

Padangusthasana; Padahastasana

Uttita Trikonasana; Parivritta Trikonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana; Parivritta Parsvakonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, D;  Parsvottanasana.

Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C, D; Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Utkatasana; Virabhadrasana A & B

Housesitting at Sandy’s. This time I vowed not to allow that to disrupt my practice. It’s tougher on my feet because my mat is on the carpet and not hardwood. And the house is colder. But no johns. Practice is practice.

February 2, Saturday:

None

Well, one outta two ain’t bad! But it ain’t good either.

February, 3, Sunday:

Surya Namaskara A & B, 5x

Padangusthasana; Padahastasana

Uttita Trikonasana; Parivritta Trikonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana; Parivritta Parsvakonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, D;  Parsvottanasana.

Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C, D; Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Utkatasana; Virabhadrasana A & B

Extremely challenging! Did not want to start. Mind racing throughout most of it. Finally calmed down around the Prasaritas. Felt great, as always, afterwards.

Only gonna add 4-5 poses for Monday. Back to the 10 day routine. Slow but steady wins the race. I re-read all the primary/finishing sequence of poses. A lot more than I remember. It’s time to get  firm on the bedtime again. Wake up at 5am, minimum, every day, regardless if I have responsibilities or not. 4:15 on Thursdays. I can have a little discomfort now, prolonged, or a lot of pain later, acute.

February 4, Monday:

Surya Namaskara A & B, 5x

Padangusthasana; Padahastasana

Uttita Trikonasana; Parivritta Trikonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana; Parivritta Parsvakonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, D;  Parsvottanasana.

Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C, D; Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Utkatasana; Virabhadrasana A & B

Dandasana; Paschimottananasa A, B, C; Purvottanasana

Staff pose, three forward back bends, and the always-challenging purvottanasana.

It’s actually been many months (since November, I believe) since I’ve practiced the latter five poses, and it was nice to come to them “fresh.” They were all a lot more challenging than I remembered.

The biggest challenge in the practice for me is to keep my bandhas tight. It is no easy matter. As soon as your thoughts drift for even a little bit, your bandhas loosen. You’ll expend so much energy in a pose and then come out of it, loosing focus and, therefore, bandha strength.

I consider bandhas one of the primary foundations of the practice, though, so the past few weeks I have really ramped up my awareness of them. I could tell the difference particularly in the last five poses: I did not have that same bandha awareness back in November that I do now. So that was pretty cool.

Mentally, I did not feel like practicing, but I was short on time. Just do it. A familiar story: took a little time to get warmed up, but once I did I started to feel good. Not as good as I have in the past, but that is coming.

I looked through the Primary Series yesterday and I believe there are something like 32 poses in it. I have the book in front of me now so let’s see:

10 “poses” in the Surya Namaskara A and Bs (they’re not really poses, but a moving series of poses; I’m grouping them as one and counting each repetition, which is fair to me since warming up is absolutely vital), nine poses in the Standing Sequence, and 31 in the Primary.

So I’m still less than halfway through the entire series, especially when you consider the finishing sequence (15 more poses). Interesting.

That’s fine, because I have said from the beginning I am not in a rush. But I am a bit surprised because I find the standing sequence to be quite challenging. Today it was particularly challenging; the Prasaritas are no joke. I think a more correct term, however, is that the Namaskaras and Standing Sequence are the most active parts of the practice. Sure, you have your vinyasas in between every pose in the primary series — which reminds me, I didn’t do vinyasas after each paschimottanasana, only after I did the entire group! — but they’re not super active.

Yes, yoga is very difficult. Challenging. David Swensen says mastering the vinyasas alone takes a year or two. (Well, he says it’s impossible to “master” anything in yoga, but you know what I mean.) That’s because there are different levels of every pose, and no one is going to start off fully capable. Someone’s hips may be too tight for full lotus; someone’s hamstrings may be too tight to swing through during the vinyasas; someone’s bandhas may not be strong enough to shrink your midsection enough to lift yourself off the ground and roll back to begin the vinyasas; and so on.

I am the “someone” in those individual examples. It is not a race. But part of me cannot help but look forward to six months from now, when I’m practicing the entire sequence with significantly greater proficiency than I am now. But the journey of a thousand steps starts with one. One cannot go faster than one day at a time. Focus on that day, that moment, that breath.

In doubt? Breathe out.

February 5, Tuesday:

Surya Namaskara A & B, 5x

Padangusthasana; Padahastasana

Uttita Trikonasana; Parivritta Trikonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana; Parivritta Parsvakonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, D;  Parsvottanasana.

Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C, D; Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Utkatasana; Virabhadrasana A & B

Dandasana; Paschimottananasa A, B, C; Purvottanasana

I almost went back to sleep. The alarm went off at 5. I wasn’t really tired — I had been probably 75-80% conscious the prior 30 minutes — but I knew I could “afford” to sleep in and not miss out on much. Plus right when the alarm went off I was almost back to a deep sleep, which had been eluding me for the past hour. I was almost remembering my dream again…

I tried to go back after the alarm went off, but you know how that goes. At least for me. Like David Akers: no good!

At 5:15 I rolled out. By 5:25 I was practicing. Stiff at first, but resigned. A few moments before I began my few OMs, I decided I would attack this practice. More accurately, I thought about attacking this practice. In the end I was about 80 percent voracious in my efforts. Instead of bending my knees and kind of wiggling in the downward dog, as I’d been doing recently, I decided I needed to push myself. I was close to getting my heels on the ground, consistently, a week ago, before I stopped pushing myself. Now I must push myself, keep the bandhas tight, keep the breathing deep, and bathe in the discomfort. Framing my mind to find comfort in the discomfort is what keeps me in a fiery  mindset.

Let me tell you, I was tired. My body was making me think I was tired, anyway. The Namaskaras kicked my ass. Padangusthasana was a bit of a relaxation, but the trikonasanas, oh the trikonasanas! I realized: hey, all of these poses are challenging when you put focus into them.

The prasaritas… =(. My stance is becoming wider and my feet and ankles are getting taxed.

I love and hate the balancing poses. I love them because they’re so hard, I channel focus I did not think I had. I hate them because they’re so hard.

By the end I was dripping with sweat. All of my body. Underwear soaked through. A tough practice. A good practice.

February 6, Wednesday:

None

February 7, Thursday:

Surya Namaskara A & B, 5x

Padangusthasana; Padahastasana

Uttita Trikonasana; Parivritta Trikonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana; Parivritta Parsvakonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, D;  Parsvottanasana.

Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C, D; Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Utkatasana; Virabhadrasana A & B

Dandasana; Paschimottananasa A, B, C; Purvottanasana

I almost didn’t do shit today. I was this close to saying fuck it and taking a yoga break. Jeez, this was so challenging. I don’t know what’s going on, but I might be feeling burned out. Am I just being weak? I don’t know. This is taking all of my focus and energy right now. Just when I thought I was on the verge of figuring it out.

But I want to grow. The only way to grow is to face conflict head-on. Got to.

February 8, Friday:

Surya Namaskara A & B, 5x

Padangusthasana; Padahastasana

Uttita Trikonasana; Parivritta Trikonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana; Parivritta Parsvakonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, D;  Parsvottanasana.

Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C, D; Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Utkatasana; Virabhadrasana A & B

Dandasana; Paschimottananasa A, B, C; Purvottanasana

Much better than yesterday. Better how? Better why?

It was still challenging. But Lindsey inspired me. We went to ATY for Polina’s heated flow class (verdict: not that great, but it was nice being back in the studio again, sweating my balls off). She told me that yoga is like life: sometimes you don’t feel it, but you just gotta show up. Show up show up show up show up.

Show up and from there my inner perfectionist takes care of the rest.

Today was a little bit easier than yesterday. Good enough for me. I was a little tight from Polina’s class. But mentally I was much stronger than Thursday.

I needed a reality check. Physically, I can do this, no problem. Being in the studio was interesting: I push myself a lot harder in there. The main difference, physically, from personal practice and studio, is the attention, awareness and intensity of my bandhas. The studio is too distracting; too much is going on. I did my best to keep ’em tight but I think I do a much better job of it when it’s just me, myself and I.

It is much more challenging when it’s just I. In the studio I’m trying to look good.  To impress. That makes me push myself really hard. I pick up on more energy. In a related story, it’s way warmer. In the small heated class like last night? A good 10-15 degrees warmer.

I got this. Just keep showing up.

New Moon: Monday.

February 9, Saturday:

Surya Namaskara A & B, 5x

Padangusthasana; Padahastasana

Uttita Trikonasana; Parivritta Trikonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana; Parivritta Parsvakonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, D;  Parsvottanasana.

Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C, D; Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Utkatasana; Virabhadrasana A & B

Dandasana; Paschimottananasa A, B, C; Purvottanasana

Wowzers. Very sore from lifting yesterday. This was a just-show-up-and-go-through-the-motions practice. Could not generate much heat. I tried to immerse myself in the practice, to not think about how my body felt like wet cement. Drishti points help a ton. Dat nose.

Hey, important thing is I did it. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be challenging and rewarding.

February 10, Sunday:

Surya Namaskara A & B, 5x

Padangusthasana; Padahastasana

Uttita Trikonasana; Parivritta Trikonasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana; Parivritta Parsvakonasana

Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C, D;  Parsvottanasana.

Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana A, B, C, D; Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana

Utkatasana; Virabhadrasana A & B

Dandasana; Paschimottananasa A, B, C; Purvottanasana

Still a little sore, but fortunately I was sweating a lot this morning! Let the heater warm up the house for half an hour, and during the second or third Surya Namaskara A I knew I would be plenty warm. I didn’t intend to work so hard (the hotter I get the more effort, focus and fire that inevitably comes out of my practice), but I won’t let good heat go to waste. 🙂

Today I wanted to particularly focus on my bandhas. Tighter!

Just a good, all-around practice. Prasaritas are back to kicking my ass. Hips are gradually loosening.

This was Day 6 of the added poses. So on Saturday I’m adding more! That’s right around the corner! Mixed feelings about that…

I will be fasting from 4:30 PM today ’til 4:30 tomorrow. That’s because one, tomorrow is a new moon, and two, I’m lifting tomorrow, so I want to set it up where I break my fast with a protein shake and a big, strong meal right after I’m done lifting.

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