Two distinct things to report about Sunday’s backbending workshop with Kino MacGregor here in Los Angeles.
ONE: Nuts and Bolts
For those curious about the nuts and bolts, I’ll try to give you the rundown. Overall, and in no way meant to downplay what was a very good workshop, this seemed like a pretty straight-forward backbending workshop. Kino hits the high points, gave them her own spin and provided a lot of information: anatomical, about the subtle body, the stories of Guruji. You name it.
Here’s how it went:
- She talked in general for about 30 minutes. (I hear she treated the arm balance workshop similarly, and people said it was hard. She also described the arm balance workshop as focusing on inward energy; the backbending one was on outward energy.)
- She highlighted four pieces of training advice that Navy SEALS get in order to pass the group’s toughest test: 1. Visualization. 2. Positive Self-Talk. 3. Goal Setting. (I.e.: This pose is only five breaths; I can do that.) 4. Nervous System Control, which is best managed via breath control.
- She took us through the following poses on our way to backbends: Samastitihi (with an exaggerated backbend); Lunges, to allow for a focus on rotating the shoulders; Warrior I; Salabhasana (first with the hands under the hips, then removed); Purvottanasana; Ustrasana; Laghuvajrasana, including the final version in which students either could drop their head to the ground and come back up immediately or hold if for 15 breaths (as she walked around picking people up from it); Kapotasana, with partners; and finally a few backbends, with a focus on opening up the upper back (by straightening the legs).
- She finished with a few more stories and a couple of chants.
TWO: Walking the middle path
This really resonated with me. At the beginning, as she described how hard backbends are for everyone (flexible and stiff, alike), she talked about how Guruji had the ability to take her, each practice, just to that day’s limit but not further. He knew where it was, that point where asana isn’t fun but isn’t an injury waiting to happen.
What’s the purpose of that limit, she asked? Asana, she said as an answer, isn’t supposed to be fun. If you’re always having fun, if asana practice is always a pleasure, you aren’t doing it right. You’re creating a “happy” samskara. Asana is about walking the middle path between the pleasure and the pain, about experiencing those moments when you think you’re going to die, when you hope you’re going to die, as well as the happier moments. Stira and sukham, not one in exaggeration.
You have to know that appealed to me. (Although maybe I need more sukham.)
Posted by Steve