Comment question on an earlier post 'When to start intermediate. if you home practice'
It's been a while I saw this discussion ( on being held back). I have been practicing Ashtanga for many years but have not been able to come up from UD (Urdva Dhanurasana). I am still trying. Though it happened for a little bit - had a step on the floor - but it has gone away now! I am frustrated because - I am unable to come back up - when in Mysore - I do Primary and that's it. At home, I go up to Laghu and that's it. I enjoy part of the second - because I think it's helping open up back. Thoughts on what else can one do to come back up? Anonymous
It always seemed a bit of a cruel Ashtanga joke to me to have to try and drop back and come back up after Primary series with all it's forward bends, so so much easier after the first few postures of 2nd series.
As an experiment do Shalabhasana to Ustrasana (perhaps with blocks, yep props) then try Urdhva Dhanurasana, much much easier I find.
Even better the vinyasa Krama Bow sequence which has a couple more 'prep' postures that are excellent.
|Link: from my Vinyasa Yoga Practice Book|
I don't really think about 'backbending' much anymore Anon, I do the first half of second series once or twice a week and perhaps drop back when I remember and can be bothered. Better then to look back through the blog at earlier posts when I was working on it and having success. This link is to my progress post, the idea was that a reader could look through the videos, find where they are themselves then look at posts around that date to find what helped lead to the next video.
One of the best pieces of advice ( or rather one of the few assists ) i received was at Ashtanga yoga London, when Louise, an assistant there moved me back in UD so my chest was further over my arms, that led to a deeper backbend i didn't know was available to me. IE. it allowed me to take tighter UD, my legs in a little closer, more under my hips I guess. That helped I think.
My first and second visit to a shala recounted at the bottom of this post
Look for the posts on pelvic nutation too, that also seemed to help. Also Simon Borg-Olivier talks about engaging the muscles on the frount and sides of the stomach which relaxes the muscles at the back.
NOTE: Simon just commented on this on fb"one thing to clarify from me is that you mentioned that i say " about engaging the muscles on the frount and sides of the stomach which automatically relaxes the muscles at the back." - what i usually advocate in this case is engage the muscles at the front (rectus abdominis), which can reciprocally relax the back extensors, and activate the diaphragm (the muscle of 'abdominal' inhalation), which can reciprocally relax the muscles of forced abdominal exhalation which are our side abdominal muscles (the abdominal obliques) and which also attach to, and cause the over tension and compression of, lower back. I discuss this in detail in the following blog. https://yogasynergy.com/blog/how-to-relieve-back-pain-and-bend-backwards-without-hurting-your-lower-back/
I used to think everybody should just move on when they felt ready (assuming they also had some healthy common sense and body awareness) but I've since seen people with backs that just don't seem to bend or take years and years of work to drop back and even then it isn't pretty... and coming back up again will take even more years. I've seen teachers pulling a students into kapo with groans and even screams resounding around the shala followed by 'thank you thank you' - I've never understood it - surely more preparation postures are required (home practitioner speaking). I've never accepted a kapo assist nor would I actually, yet have got to the point of grabbing my ankles from the air without them. It makes more sense to me to just accept that for some, back bending is going to be a long slow process and shouldn't perhaps be holding somebody back from exploring other postures. It makes sense then to move on to the first part of 2nd series while still working on coming back up, skip kapo etc. and move on to the rest of the series while continuing to work on the more basic backbending(lengthening) postures.
Krishnamacharya seems to have worked in a different way than his student Pattabhi Jois. In an area where a student was strong he would give extra, more advanced variations, while the student continued to work on other areas at a more Primary level. If backbending was your strength then he would give you ever more advanced backbends, if leg behind head was your strength he would give the more advanced postures there. But then there was that demonstration aspect to his Mysore school, he wanted good demonstrators so would perhaps encourage a students natural facility for the sake of the demo.
Pattabhi Jois would move people along quickly in the beginning (dangerously so perhaps if we look at his Advanced led in a garage video http://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/2014/03/sri-k-pattabhi-jois-advanced-ashtanga.html), Manju still does but with common sense, his assists more supportive than anything else while you yourself do all the work. Manju wont hold you at Mari D (which was originally in Krishnamacharya's Intermediate group) say, but will expect you to keep working at it while you move along in the series, likewise with moving along to 2nd series, he wouldn't hold you back at dropping back, he thinks the first half of second series very important.
Methodologies are always compromises.
I worry about the obsession with more and more advanced postures. Authorised and Certified teachers who constantly promote themselves under the guise of inspiration through social media, with pretty pictures of advanced series asana are I believe doing the community a disservice although I like some of the full, unedited videos of advanced practice alone at home or in the shala. We used to joke that 3rd was the new 2nd, now it seems that 4th is the new 2nd. I no longer see the more advanced asana as important or necessary and don't tend to bother with them anymore but I do see the first half of second series as important as the first half of Primary and think it's worth moving on to relatively quickly.
Getting moved along quickly through Primary and on into the first half of second is a different issue altogether from moving along to 3rd/4th series asana. The first half of second are in a sense Primary postures. I would argue that the first half of Primary and the first half of Second series ( along with perhaps a few variations) constitute a good 'basic' all round (life long) practice and are more than sufficient.
Advanced asana are really not necessary. Ego, Ego, Ego Advanced. Often it's just ego, ego, ego although they can be fun, challenging and certainly nothing wrong with exploring them for a time if it's our inclination, I'm sure Krishnamacharya would have approved, nothing wrong either in sharing work in progress photos with friends, that whole process can keep us coming back to the mat, whatever it takes. See perhaps this post where I ask Krishnamacharya to convince me of thier value.
It used to be that it was necessary to go to Myore, India to learn to practice Ashtanga but no longer, it's optional, there are excellent teachers all over the world, direct students of Pattabhi Jois and direct students of those students and even of those. The practice though, I strongly believe, teaches itself, inhale up/exhale down, focus on the breath for 30, 60, 90, 120 minutes day in day out for a few years and that's pretty much it, all is coming.
In my own practice these days (See my Proficient Primary page) I tend to do pretty much the first half of both series on different days, my breathing as slow as possible throughout and including longer stays on different postures on different days. I'm more interested than ever in the finishing sequence ( I include a few variations in sarvangasana and sirsasana see this post http://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/2015/02/inversions-krishnamacharyas-head-and.html) and pranayama.
After 50 Pattabhi Jois said you get a Pass to adapt your practice as you see best.... but honestly, you don't have to wait until then. See http://grimmly2007.blogspot.jp/2015/10/david-garrigues-and-flexibility-within.html
I had started to get back into regular Ashtanga because I was practicing alongside M. but as expected I quickly ended up slipping back into a slower practice and not enough time for a full series, Why you hurry.... Pattabhi Jois asked ( and Sharath still asks I hear), these days I hear him continue...
|My main daily backbend/back lengthening posture Bhujamgi Mudra, slipped in after Sarvangasana|