This is the last week of revisiting a yoga journal I completed 12 years ago. At the time, I picked poses that I was finding a challenge during the practical classes. Interestingly, some poses are "easier" today and others are just as challenging.
Here are the three I practiced this week:
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
Even back 12 years ago, I really liked this pose. I suppose it is the flexible hamstrings I've got. But I'd have to say that my understanding of how to do the pose has greatly improved over the years. I think the key piece was not collapsing into the pose as I lean over to the side. I had always wanted my hand to touch the floor not realizing that my side body and ribs were compressed. Practicing in Judy's classes, I have been able to increase the opening of my side (hard to believe!) and get greater range in the pose. This weeks practice just reinforced how I use to do the pose and how it has changed. Challenging still - yes - but done better. See here for what else I have learned about triangle pose lately.
"Doing this pose first allowed me to warm up for the rest of the poses. I began to feel a warm sensation as I did the pose. I think that it was my body waking up and realizing that I was doing something vigorous and physical. I found that my body was tight and not free flowing. I did the pose more than once because I wanted to feel the position with a more limber body."
This third week of practicing the past poses has been a journey in itself. It's forced me to remember what I've done in the past and theoretically should remember. Well, that is not necessarily the case. Once again, this week required some refreshing homework!
I recently downloaded the Songza app for my phone and decided to try it out during my practice. Maybe having music is that special touch I need for a home practice. It just made it that much better!
I had planned on a particular practice time but for some bazaar reason I had a stomach ache. I can't remember the last time I had a stomach ache! Maybe when I was pregnant back in 2011?!? Regardless, I sought out a stomach relieving pose first and found just what I was looking for.
Knees to Chest Pose (Apasana)
Not in my original practice from 12 years ago, but this pose has been in my life for many more years than that. I only recently knew that pose was helpful for stomach aches because it was primarily used, by me, for a low back stretch.
It did what it was suppose to do and I got relief. Now on to the three poses of the day...
Shooting Arrow (Akarna Dhanura Asana)
My recollection of this pose was using the arms as a bow and arrow. What I wrote in my journal does speak to the arms doing some form of work in a standing "mountain" pose but I'd be darned if I could find any information online about this pose that represented what I remembered.
Alas, I just went with this rendition and was happy for it. It too was active in the belly so I can't complain. And, I really noticed the imbalance of my hamstring flexibility from side to side.
"I began in the mountain pose with five diaphragmatic breaths. I continued into the pose feeling progressively warmer as I went on. My shoulders were stiff and cracked when I did the arm movements (on both left and right sides). Since I am getting used to the move, I forgot to bend at the knee initially, but I corrected it on the other side. My breathing felt controlled during the movement."
With my goal to practice the yoga poses I journaled about over ten years ago and reflect on how they feel today, I headed into three more poses this week. To be honest, I struggle with a home practice (read: it's not exciting by myself or when it's not lead by anyone else, AND setting time aside to go through poses correctly and slowly is tough to do). I really still appreciate being taught yoga in some format instead of just doing it on my own.
But I did practice three more poses on my own (I added corpse pose to the end as well). They were the following:
Hero Pose (Virasana)
With this pose, I had to page through my various books to remind myself what this pose is all about. Based on the book Yoga for 50+ by Robert Rosen, it is a sitting pose with the legs parallel to the thighs. It is likely that you've seen a child sitting in this exact position. And you might recall thinking, Ohmygoodness - how is he/she sitting like that!?!
I completed the pose for five breaths (approximately the 30 seconds recommendation). But in reviewing what I wrote 11 years ago, it just didn't seem to fit. Again back to the books (the class manual to be exact) and there in the schematics is the hero pose but it looks more like a warrior I pose. What?!? Well, needless to say, I just did both versions. Here's what I wrote many years back:
"At the start of the movement, I allowed myself to become focused by doing five diaphragmatic breaths. During the pose, I began to warm up and became hot. I realized that I was warming up my body after all it had been resting during the night. My muscles did not seem to be tight and the stretching of the hamstrings was not difficult."
In researching yawning and yoga, I came across another children's book on stretching. What a fun book Stretch is by Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin! They too share their ideas (via word and illustration) what yawning is to yoga. See below!
Yawns ARE a stretch!
We recently purchased a new computer and I had a chance to review some of my old files. I previously posted an old university essay I wrote in my academic yoga class but what I also found was a journal that I wrote for a class assignment.
Rewind 12 years and I was a third year university student taking yoga in my spring semester. If memory serves, I was to practice at home and write about what I did and how it went. In the next couple posts, I am going to following my student journal and complete the same poses I did back those many years ago.
This week I completed three poses at home, as I did for my journal. They include cobra pose (Bhujangasana) which oddly I called snake pose, cat cow pose ( Marjaryasana to Bitilasana) and chopping wood pose (Kashtha Takshanasana). Below are my current day assessments of each pose and the quotes are my thoughts circa 2001 on each pose.
I remember I use to struggle with this pose whereby my lower back would feel "crunched" and some discomfort would occur. I started to "get better" at this pose when Judy would ask the group to only lift our upper torso and use no hand support. This was and is the best way for me prep my spine for cobra pose. By doing a couple baby cobras using my spinal muscles to extend my back, I find my full cobra to be much more supported and less painful!
"...I felt in control of my breathing because of the concentration on the inhaling when lifting the chest and the exhalation when lowering the chest. My lower back slowly was able to lift higher off the ground as I progressed through the movement. I play some relaxation music and it helped me to move in a fluid movement."
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.