Friday, 17 September 2010

Kino in London - part 3

Continued from part 2...
My post weekend reflections included the thought – interesting how we spend so long looking forward to something, and then while it’s gone wishing it was over. Now this isn’t true to say for everything, but the second half of the Saturday workshop was a big struggle. The first half was great! I was feeling strong and capable and I understood what she was driving at in a way I hadn’t in Edinburgh. I was able to remember doing some of the same exercises as we did last time, going onto hands and knees, building a solid foundation in the body – and I remember having found it all too difficult, and like I didn’t really understand the first part of the exercise, let alone when we went on to build it up two, three, four different ways. Well the same thing did happen again in London, but at least the confusion kicked in halfway through instead of right at the start! We spent some of the time working on bujapidasana  - one of my nemeses. Kino offered some great insights (despite the guy who just kept asking her how you jump into it...she insisted that until you are so bored in bhuja that you can call your mum on the speakerphone, then you DON’T jump into it. “So can you show us then?” he asked again....Grrr!). Her teaching included:
·        You need to keep a sense of roundedness in the back – throughout!
·        If we feel our butt is travelling down, don’t think up, think forward.
·        Step onto the hands – this helps to turn feet and knees out
·        Bend the elbows to create a seat for the thighs
·        Maintain the structured foundation (that we had been building up – including rounded back)
·        To get feet up think forward.
·        To come back out of it, think CHEST FORWARD, and press the feet into the foundation to come back up.
·        Bakasana exit – lean right, take right leg back, lean left, take left leg back.
·        Don’t correct and do “pretty bakasana”!!
None of this is new information really, but something about following the instructions (especially stepping on the hands, which I hadn’t tried before, and rounding the back, which I’d never thought of) has seemed to help. Whilst I still land on my head with quite a clonk most days, I am at least managing something vaguely approaching a bakasana exit in the post-Kino practices, something I have never been able to even try before. My only possible exit from the pose in the past was to fling myself out of it and land on my bum with a crash!
Watching the buja demo
As we moved on I started to struggle. I can’t even remember at what point it was, but I began to feel utterly defeated. We started working on an exercise where I couldn’t compute stage 1, and then we moved on to stages 2 and 3. I just wanted to throw in the towel. Partnering with J was wonderful but I was determined not to tell her that I was having a hard time, not to put it “out there” though I was sure it was written all over my face. But eventually I did say it. I spent the second half of the workshop residing in doubt and fear.  And then the very last thing we did in the workshop was an assisted handstand from prasarita position and somehow, completely by magic, I LOVED it!! I normally have a huge freakout in anything handstand-related but this just felt right, with jen holding my waist I floated my legs out to the sides and up into handstand and it felt AMAZING! I was so happy to finish on such a high!

You think I'd remember all of this without taking notes??!
Maybe part of the reason I has anxiety in this workshop was that I was already thinking ahead. I had intentionally not booked the Sunday afternoon workshop, Introduction to 2nd Series, because I thought it wasn’t really right for me. But I already knew that two of my friends, although they had booked it, were planning not to go. Which meant that there were a few spaces available – and all I knew was that I didn’t want my time with Kino to be over yet. But I didn’t want to do the scary second series workshop either when I don’t even do full primary! And I am such a traditionalist! So what did I do...well, I waited until after the class and had a chat with her. Aside from name-dropping Cary (“Cary is AWESOME! I love Cary, please say hi”) and saying how lucky I was also to practice with (and be offered advice by) my friend Susan (“Susan is awesome too! You really are lucky!”) I chatted to her about my crazy garbha bruises (she suggested lifting the left knee...I have tried it but can’t quite work it out) and about the 2nd series class. She completely reassured me, and said that some of what we worked on would help my primary series postures, and it’s OK to try postures in a workshop that you teacher hasn’t given you. So as I left, I sent S a text asking if it might be OK to take his space...and the answer was yes. So there was a little more Kino-time to come! On Sunday morning I went to Cary as usual for my Mysore practice (which was lovely, I was able to assimilate some of what I had learned, but also to bring my practice back to reality in the midst of the workshop excitement) and then after lunch it was back over to Triyoga.
Sweetly as Kino walked into the workshop on Sunday afternoon, almost tripping over me (my mat was right in front of the door) she smiled and said “Oh you were brave! You came! Great!” which of course pleased me no end!

·        Kino began by explaining that the function of the Primary Series is partly in understanding that when fear arises you can keep stillness and steadiness of mind. It is also about building a base level of health in the body.
  • Once these things are established through proficiency in the asanas then you are ready for the intermediate series.
  •  So a certain level of proficiency in the primary series, but also a strong, clear mind and a base level of strength, flexibility and health are essential before beginning second series.
  • Intermediate will test your faith and belief in yoga and will possibly make you want to give it up completely at some stages! She said “You have to have already drunk the kool aid” i.e. to already be on the yoga path, otherwise you’ll never be able to deal with all the crazy that second series brings out!
  • Initiating movement from bandhas – from the mythological place of Kundalini (root) chakra is essential for intermediate. The series then forcefully pushes kundalini energy up through the body to awaken the crown chakra
  • Legs behind head – ida and pingala nadis (which need to awaken to get the energy flowing up through the body) originate in the hip joints, so LBH stuff initiates this energy flow.
  •  Ask yourself “If I never get another posture, do I still want to do this practice?” if the answer is yes then you know you are involved in the spiritual journey. (I read this brilliant post this week which reminded me of this point too...)
I loved that last point. She talked a little about people who she knew who’d been stuck on the same asana for seven years. I mean really – SEVEN YEARS??!! It makes me August-April wait to move on from Bhuja pale into insignificance. I also really liked the way she spoke about intermediate, I think people can be fixated on the idea that you’re ready when you can stand up from backbends, but it was clear to me that sometimes you could still not be ready at this point, but all that’s going to happen is you might have some sort of meltdown. And is that really what anybody wants? I just don’t understand the rush myself...but then maybe I can safely say this from my not-yet-full-primary position where pasasana isn’t even on my radar.
I’ll tell you what though – I can do it! I used a block under my heels, but I happily bound both sides. And when I say happily, I was honestly thrilled I’d taken the workshop JUST so that I could discover that I could do it! Of course I liked what I could do, and wasn’t so happy with the stuff I couldn’t do, but I took it very much as a playtime whereas my partner in this workshop was Helen,  who the following day was given three new intermediate asanas and was split! I also got my legs behind my head (which I knew I’d be able to do) but had a giant freakout in ustrasana (again, no surprises here!). But all in all I was just happy to have more time with Kino, and to be there at the close of the workshop (having been there when it opened). All in all it was a fantastic weekend, and although Kino is keen on saying “there’s no magic pixie dust!” I think I did get a little sprinkling of it over the course of the two days. Over and out.
Bad sweaty picture (me, not her!) with Kino at the end of the weekend.
I'd run out of decent yoga clothes by this stage ;)


  1. WOW. wonderful workshop report Mel, been reading it in the library on my Lunchbreak, looking forward to Sunday and having the time to read it more carefully. Thank you for sharing so much of it.

  2. Hi Mel!
    I'm have a home practice (not from choice, I would love to have a shala practice!) but I had a completely unreasonable fear of handstands. Every time it was brought up in a lead class I would freak out internally..."I can't do bottom half is too heavy....I will fall on my face" Handstand brings up so many things for me! But during a workshop I was encouraged to try it with help and now it is such a great thing for me. Not that I can do it properly or anything, but just the approaching it without fear is so great. I know you probably have done that plenty of times but I love when someone brings up the topic of a pose that scares the bejesus out of us for no real reason....we know our arms can keep us up...hands should land before the head, only a foot from the ground etc. but our minds mess with our heads. Anyway...glad your workshop ended well. Apologies for the rambling..its my birthday so there may have been more than the max two glasses of red wine involved:)

  3. Wow again! That was some report!! I am glad our Sunday spaces didn't go to waste, it sounds like you had a fab weekend.
    I love the detail in your report, i feel like i am back there on my matt
    S x

  4. Well worth waiting for, thanks for the account Mel. It was lovely to be your partner. x

  5. Thanks everyone...and Helen you are more than generous, you were more like my teacher than my partner :)
    @lisadonlon - I don't think a fear of handstands is irrational at all!!! I'm totally with you on that one (which is why i was so pleasantly surprised when I enjoyed one of them)! One of the things I enjoy about following a traditional ashtanga practice is that I don't have to worry about a teacher calling out scary stuff that I then have to I just save that for workshops!! I admit, I do use the tradition to hide a little from things that scare me (when I went to a Bikram class I refused to do ustrasana because it's a second series pose...oh AND because i bloody hate it!!) but let's face it, there's plenty that scares me in the primary series too!
    Hope you had a good birthday, rambling is always welcome on my blog ;)