I felt good enough for a strength workout today, but chose to do a long Yoga practice instead.
I followed a sequence from Rodney Yee’s Yoga: Poetry of the Body book. I’ve mentioned before that this was my very first book on Yoga more than a decade ago. It still remains one of my favorites thanks to its lyrical, almost whimsical, style. It’s also probably the best book of Yoga sequences I’ve come across so far, mostly because Rodney doesn’t just describe the sequences, but sets a theme for each practice, something found more often in classes rather than books, using focal points to guide the reader. It’s a wonderful way for a beginner to learn the poses outside a class setting, and for an advanced student to look at the basics from several different perspectives. For my part, I tend to come back to these sequences fairly often and always seem to discover something new.
Another great thing about this book is that the sequences can be short and sweet if each pose is held for the minimum recommended amount of time, about 20-30 minutes. However, when the poses are held at the max, the sequences can last 50 minutes to over an hour. Add to that a 20- to 30-minute Shavasana and meditation segment and each sequence can be drawn out to 90 minutes. That’s basically what I did today: held long, did a couple of rounds of unilateral poses, and spent a while in recovery and meditation.
Since I postponed my strength workout until tomorrow, I thought I’d use a sequence that would feel somewhat challenging. I opted for the “Falling” practice which focuses on Mountain, Tree, Triangle, and Half-Moon to explore balance. In each pose, Rodney urges us to fall away from our center, only to rediscover it again. From a muscular point of view, the practice was especially intense for the core, but even more so for the feet and calves. I could feel my muscles firing up in response to all the micro-adjustments I was constantly making to each pose.
Swaying in Tree pose, and even pushing deliberately so far as to fall, felt weird at first. What a perfectionist monster still lives inside me, shaking its head in annoyance every time I “failed” to stay upright. I thought I’d gotten rid of the little bugger ages ago…
Half-Moon was already a difficult pose for me, even more so now that I had to not only focus on balance, but also on opening the chest (to counter the natural tendency the body has to curl forwards when falling backwards). So, I tried a little trick (I wasn’t cheating… I think). I usually do Half-Moon with my foot planted against a wall. I did the same thing, but started out further away from the wall, so I had to lean towards the wall to plant my foot. After coming into the full pose, I simply pushed against the wall and allowed my body to soar. It was the first time this pose felt so effortless without having to use the wall as a prop (does prep count?). Need to explore this further.