Today was the big challenge. Get myself to a mysore class, and then go to work afterwards - something I haven't done for about 5 months. I planned it with military precision, trying to work out exactly what time I needed to start and finish my practice to make sure I got to work on time, how long it would take me to get from home to the shala, and then afterwards from the shala to work, and of course what time I would need to get up. As I didn't get on with the shower on my first trip to YP I decided to allow enough time to take a shower and wash my hair before I went, so worked out I needed to set my alarm for 5.20am to make sure I was ready to start my practice with the opening chant at 6.30.
So I got up and out of the house, that was fine, though I somehow managed to miss the chant by a few minutes - I was there when they did it, but I was still in the changing room. So it was fine, I started my practice with a quiet moment on my mat, at AYL I would always do the chant quietly on my own but it didn't seem right when I'd only just missed it. As an aside, I used to worry that it was annoying to other people that I did that, as not many other people did - but today when I was almost finished a girl arrived and unrolled her mat in front of me, and quietly but audibly started "vande gurunam..." and it was so lovely to hear!! How could anybody be annoyed by it? A good lesson for me to realise.
I was surprised by how busy the room was, we were pretty packed in (much busier than Sunday), but still Cary was darting around the room, and I got more adjustments than I am used to getting (even the micro ones she does on her way past) though not as many as on Sunday. I forgot until just now but when I was approaching the shala this morning in the dark, I happened to look up and saw her silhouette through the frosted glass giving an adjustent and it really made me smile. Anyway despite her busy-ness I am really conscious of her grace. It might just be that I'm recognising what Karen was writing about last week, but I can't help but notice the way she seems to have everyones's back, even though there are so many people there, and also the way she moves around the room - almost like it's a dance. But slight as she may be, my God her adjustments are strong! No correction to the length of my downdog today (I think I've got that now - I can't believe how different it feels) but the usual push into it, a few tweaks in the tirikonasana sequence (including standing on my back foot in the revolved version, I always seem to get that!) and then on to UHP.
I wonder if I am alone in finding in next to impossible to balance in this posture by myself - even after all of these months. Cary was waiting for me to take my foot in the first place before she stepped in, and on the left side it took me about three tries just to balance.
Naturally I think my leg reaches about the angle of this picture: i.e. not all that high! (picture credit here) I am used to having a teacher take your leg up higher, and the main teacher at AYL might take it up on her shoulder whereas the assistants would hold your leg on their arm (no doubt concerned about being too strong).
But what does Cary do? Well it feels more like this:
picture credit here
Oh - except that my standing foot isn't allowed to turn out as it does in this picture. And Cary would be in the picture too, lifting my leg whilst simultaneously correcting the grip on my toe, pushing me down onto my raised leg, turning my knee in and making sure my foot wasn't rolling out, holding onto my shoulder to stop me falling, pushing my chest up at the end...! At least there was no standing leg straightening today (I tried to keep it straight, really I did, but it does feel like the only thing keeping me upright). Although this is how it feels, I'm sure my leg is actually nothing like as high as this, but I think the assist in this pose is what gave me such agonisingly sore glutes after Sunday's practice. No adjustments in pachimottanasana today which I was almost grateful for (actually maybe it was that which hurt so badly afterwards) and at least I didn't forget the sequence at the beginning of seated this time! The shala was really filling up by this stage so there was a bit of shuffling about of mats, but everyone seemed to have enough space. And then I got a bit distracted when a girl rolled her mat out in front of me into what looked like not a space at all, she was clearly unsure whether it was OK and looked to Cary for reassurance, and as she turned around I saw that she was the little sister of a boy in my class at Primary school - she was also at my secondary school, but about four years below me. Quite a weird coincidence as I didn't grow up in London, plus I think mysore classes are quite niche really, and then to practice in the same shala, and to happen to appear in front of me - I have no idea how many other people were in the room, and if she'd have been anwhere else I wouldn't even have seen her.
Anyway aside from my distraction (it didn't help that she has a dancer's physique and a very acomplished practice!!) I continued through my practice and only got adjusted in Marichyasana A - again, a very strong one which made me want to squeal as C pushed my body down to my leg, telling me to take the chin to the shin put pushing still deeper even once it had hit my leg.Then although she was stood behind me in D and I struggled to bind, I managed it again on both sides (just) without any help. I still prefer the adjusted bind, but of course it is good to know I don't need it!
From Mari D I ploughed straight into Bhujapidasana, attempting it twice before I realised I'd missed out navasana AGAIN!! Funny how I am rushing to the pose I am struggling with rather that avoiding it...I wonder what that says about me. Anyway I remembered in time, so went back through vinyasa and into navsana, where C's assistant came over and told me to come up out of my lower back which I did and immediately had to bend my knees. I did think that I'd probably been leaning back to far to get my legs up & straight but nobody ever picked up on it before. So then it was my third attempt at the bloody bhuja...actually I'm wondering if anybody can help me with this because I just DON'T GET IT! I jump round my arms from downdog, and on the last few attempts I can now gingerly cross my feet and lift them (though it takes massive effort) and then I just hang there, stuck! I have been taught to take my forehead to the floor as a beginner's modification - but in doing this, my feet are back on the floor. When I am balancing on my arms, attempting to move my head towards the floor feels far too scary as I am sure I am going to crash-land, so I end up crashlanding onto my backside instead (which is a much softer landing I can assure you). So having crashed down I'm never really sure what to do, whether I try again, or if I can give up and stop at that point (having already tried twice pre-navasana, today I stopped). Any tips will be gratefully received!
Once again today I did my tippy-toes non-headstand, and again nobody noticed, but I can't work out if I am actually just attention-seeking in doing this. Either way, there's no way I can do an unsupported headtstand in the middle of the room so I supose I'll stick with it until I get asked about it (surely I won't get away with it again!). I made sure I took a really long savasana as I know that's the difference between feeling exhausted or refuelled at the end of the practice, and then went off to shower and get ready for work. Timing-wise I couldn't believe how it worked out, I arrived at the tube station 45 minutes early for work, which given my usual timekeeping, was about an hour earlier than normal! So the good news is the 5.20 alarm might not need to be a regular thing. I am slightly worried that it had to be such a carefully planned operation to get me to a morning class though, it makes me wonder how I am ever going to ramp up my practice from once or twice a week, but I suppose I need to just work on getting there first, and worry about the frequency later. I was pretty knackered at work today too, though initially I think I was mainly feeling the effects of eating sugary breakfast cereal at my desk rather than some good wholesome porridge I'd normally have at home. Weirdly though I did feel like from my hips down I was zinging with energy, but my back and upper body generally just felt destroyed. But I suppose I have done the hardest bit now, I have established that I can get to a morning class and then get to work, both logistically and pyhsically, so now there are no excuses!