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."
Cat Cow Pose
I can say with certainty that this pose has been in my practice without fail almost every session over the past 12 years. It has been excellent for spinal range of motion (flexion and extension) and is commonly done at the beginning of practice to "warm up the spine". Over the last decade, I have learned to release my neck more in the pose, particularly in the cat pose and also enjoy swinging my hips from side to side in the neutral position. This is a go to pose for me!
Chopping Wood Pose
To be completely honest, I had no memory of what chopping wood pose was! I can't say I've done it again over the past 12 years. So, YouTube was my tool of choice to find out again what it was. To set the scene, it is a deep squat (Upavesasana) with a chopping motion with the arms. The breath is important to coordinate with the arm movement. Interestingly, practicing it today, I felt the breathing to be the most difficult as I noticed my left nostril inhale and exhale were more challenging than the right. Since writing this journal, I've had what I call my nose job (corrective surgery for a deviated septum) and had thought my breathing would be better. I guess not! Nonetheless, this is a pose I plan to go back to in the near future.
"Today I had a stuffed up right nostril. When doing this pose, I was able to release the nostril and allow breath to flow through my nose. I did have a difficult time controlling the exhaling “chop”, as I tended to tip over to the side. I did feel some discomfort in my knees during this pose."
More reflections on the past and current thoughts to come,
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.