So the “back to basics” theme apparently is in the air.
Bobbie and I started it over the weekend with an absolutely back to Square 1 plan for a month of very fundamental vinyasa for me. If you missed it, here’s how my ego and my body seem to be reacting initially.
On Tuesday, David Garrigues sent out a new newsletter focused on the importance of beginning Ashtanga again and working on Primary Series. A little excerpt:
Using a basic sequence like the Primary is the perfect place to refine the subtlety in your breathing, movement patterns and all the actions that you apply in the asanas. The adjustments and choices that you make based on this more subtle internal awareness more readily available to the more mature student.
And by attaining more subtle knowledge of how you practice, you come even closer to the few essential techniques that form the fundemental elements of an Ashtanga practice. By carefully sifting and re-sifting your awareness as you practice primary series you win knowledge of bandhas, pranyama, and the interior mental limbs of 6) dharana, 7) dhyana and 8) samadhi.
There are some important differences between what DG is describing and what I’m working on, however. And, frankly, I’m sure for most people reading this, DG’s is more valuable. For instance:
Additionally this first series offers the perfect balance of ‘challenge versus ease’ for this work to happen. The poses in the sequence are difficult and require tremendous effort and skill to perform. And yet, relaxation of that effort is also possible.
I’m not finding any ease with the steep breakdown of Primary. When I woke up on the Moon Day, my lower back hurt in a half-good way/ half-bad way. My hamstrings are unhappy (which is all good). I’ve got some aches and pains for not cheating my way through the asanas.
This all is the point, of course. To see what progress I’ll make over a month or so, to find some other avenues of insight, and to practice in a way that, likely, wouldn’t be all that welcomed in some Ashtanga shalas.
DG is speaking to people with more advanced (in the physical, if not other, sense) practices than I. There is no “relaxation of that effort” possible for me. But it may be for others, and so I’d suggest reading through DG’s thoughts if you haven’t.
On a related note, I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m no fan of “here’s what happened in my practice today” posts. All our practices are so individual that I have rarely found much illumination from such topics, unless there is a distilled point to be made. I also assume that if one remembers a lot from the practice then one wasn’t clearing the mind — one was focusing on what was happening and spinning the mind around to capture those moments.
In that sense, blogging doesn’t go well with yoga. (In many other senses, as well.)
All that goes double or triple for selfies and self-videos.
Which is why I intent to be conservative with sharing the next month’s worth of practices. From day two on Monday, I’ll just report: It was the modified Marichys that confounded my sense of alignment and body as I tried to keep legs straight, back straight and breathing correct. The other poses in the half-primary (which took an hour, so it is slower going than just moving into a “cheater” pose) all felt more natural and familiar.
For what that’s worth.
Posted by Steve