Today is Saturday. Today we rest.
I’ve only been at it for a whopping five days, but it felt strange to not wake up at the crack of dawn this morning and head off to mysore practice. In fact, I slept in. Like, really slept in. Like, my husband had already been up for two hours by the time I bothered to start stirring. Okay, it was only 8:00, but for me, that’s huge. When you live with very young children, anything past 6:30 is a miracle.
Anyway, not having any new postures to learn this morning, I tool some time to reflect on what I’ve learned thus far. I’ve shortened my stride and taken a toe hold in Trikonasana; I’ve changed the placement of my bottom hand in Parsvakonasana; and (this one threw me off for a couple of days and still feels kinda weird) I’ve stopped grabbing my ankles during the forward folds in the Sun Salutations. Thus far, no asana has been an enormous, oh-my-god-I-can’t-do-it kind of challenge, but as I’ve mentioned before, following the exact sequence, everyday, in order, and according to the guidance of my teachers has required a paradigm shift for this very independent gal with an ever so slight I-know-what’s-best-for-me kind of attitude.
For example, yesterday, I learned Prasarita Padottanasana, or wide-legged forward fold. My teacher gave me all four variations, although she warned that most people get mixed up on when you bring the arms up, when to look up, when you place your hands on your hips, and so on. It doesn’t look at that confusing, but when you’re in the flow of the postures, it can be very easy to forget what comes next, especially when it’s brand new.
The punk in me wants to question why we have to do it this way. What does it matter whether the arms come up or not? Or whether you look up before folding forward? And because I couldn’t help it, I did ask my teacher what the purpose was behind this very specific and mystifying practice. She agreed that yes, some of these minute details seem arbitrary, but she reminded me that the theory behind the Ashtanga sequence is that every movement helps prepare the body for a more challenging pose (she actually pointed out Supta Kurmasana as the apex of the Primary Series, with everything leading up to and then cooling down from that moment, although I’m sure there’s room for debate there). When the arms come up, it’s to rotate the shoulders in a certain way. When we look up, we’re elongating the spine to deepen the forward fold. So while it may seem tedious to have to memorize these details, there’s a reason to the rhyme. This isn’t something I have to “deal with,” though; it’s something that will help me move forward in my practice.
See, I don’t always know what’s good for me. Another paradigm shift.
Here’s a good video for learning the ins and outs of Prasarita Padottanasana:
I think it’s smart to note that modifications can be made to suit your ability level. As for me, I take a block at its lowest height under my head so I can make contact (can’t quite reach the ground yet). Do what you gotta do.