Monday, November 1, 2010

A Very Un-Ashtanga Position

No, I'm not talking about an asana that's outside the Ashtanga series. I'm talking about being in a position to say "what do I do next" all the time, with regards to practice. I was on the mat with friends upstate the other day when one of them said, "that's a very un-ashtanga position you find yourself in," as I sat on the mat thinking, "now what?" and looking at my toenails.

One of the most frustrating and wonderful aspects of Ashtanga is that you always know what to do. What order the poses go in. What series to do on which day. When to take a day off. Even with my little bit of a rebellious spirit I like the routine. At least I know what to rebel against!

But now, with the broken foot ruling my life, the Ashtanga rules no longer really apply. And so I'm always left to think "now what?"

As in, do I get on the mat today, or does the foot need a break? Should I do more poses, and if so, what?

And an interesting thing has happened. I have found maybe a little MORE focus during my practice. Sometimes I'll lose steam partway through, as is my general way, but because I have all those years of the framework behind me, I have a resource I can mine for a new routine. This week I've managed to get on the mat every day, but still only every other day feels like a "real" practice, and so I continue to feel my way. It's a little bit like the twilight zone.

So, the details. How does an ashtangi practice without being able to stand, and almost no way to do a vinyasa? Well, she follows the series of course. I felt, early on, that I should come up with my own routine, but every time I tried to be creative, I just came up with a load of nothing. However, when I got on the mat and just went through my three series, doing only the really safe poses, I found I had focus, and everything flowed easily.

The routine:

The Chant! It's not Ashtanga without the opening chant.
Pushups. That's right, not yoga at all, but I need something to warm me up and get me breathing.
Ardha Badda Padma Paschimottanasana
5. Janu Sirsasana A
6. Maricyasana A and C
7. Navasana and many long lift ups
8. Kurmasana
9. Supta Kurmasana, but with my broken foot on a pillow and the right leg behind my head. Hope to get you a picture of this one, it's pretty funny!
10. Upavishta Konasana
11. Supta Padangustasana with Trivikramasana interplation

Second Series

1. Richard Freeman's Pashasana variation on knees
2. Krounchasana
3. Salabasana A and B
4. Dhanurasana A, twice, LONG
5. Ustrasana and Kapotasana. I have to put my left foot on a pillow for this and put no weight on that side. I fear I'm going lopsided because of it, but Kapotasana is the only really deep backbend I can do right now, and it's so delicious. I do it twice as well.
6. Baradvajasana
7. Ardha Matsyandrasana
8. Eka Pada Sirsasana. I do it very intensely on the right, where the foot is ok, and sometimes go back to Kashyapasana too. On the left side I do it but it makes me nervous. My hips are open enough that I don't really put pressure on the foot, but then, because I know the doctor would yell at me, I sometimes just hold the leg back there and not quite in position and do a shorter version. See, I AM cautious!
9. Titibasana A.
10. Parigasana--LOVE THIS ONE. It always feels good.
11. Gomukasana, the Manju way with feet wide and hips on floor


1. Kashyabasana
2. Hanumanasan with kraukachasana variation.

Then full finishing, ashtanga style, with long long shoulder and headstands.

In between things I do random sets of pushups, either on my knees (yes, I'm a little bit of a wimp, but building) or with one straight leg and the broken one crossed behind at the ankle. As many as I can do, which is not so many. Plus a few modified one-legged vinyasas. Gotta stay warm somehow!

Anyway, this post has become a long list, rather than an explanation of how things work. But it's nice to have a record officially written down here so I can both remember what I've done and later explain how it worked for me. I hope soon to have a friend take some pictures to show what I can and can't do, and how I modify. Groundbreaking? Maybe not. But for me at least it's a huge relief to find I can go through the series and still find myself there.

For now, I am finally feeling awake and able early in the morning, and I am off to visit a teacher for the first time in a month! Stay tuned for updates on the routine!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing this. My ankle is in a boot and I haven't practiced in a few weeks. I am grateful for your offer of a way forward