Learned another great tip from Harshada at Abhaya last night:
If your legs start to fall asleep during meditation, switch to Baddha Konasana (Butterfly / Cobbler Pose) for a minute. Press the soles of the feet together. That should return some blood flow to the legs and wake them up.
Last night’s meditation built on Tara’s class about the three focal points: at the perineum, the heart, and the roof of the mouth. For each pose, the focal point is the one bearing most of the weight (usually lowest in space). So standing poses are focused on the pelvis, arm balances are focused on the heart, inversions are focused on the soft palette (generally). Tara had us imagine an egg at each one (as a symbol of rebirth, for Easter), drawing the muscular energy to this point and then opening away from it. Harshada had us silently repeat the syllable Ram at each one, slowly raising the vibration from the base of the spine into the skull. It was like sinking into a warm bath; super hypnotic.
Tonight I learned the zamboni meditation, a wonderful experience from the wonderful Harshada Wagner at Abhaya Yoga.
Breathing in and out, up and down, you let the breath wash over you. Like the guy in the truck, smoothing out the scratches in the ice. Some ruts are deeper; these are your personality. Sometimes there are big holes; these are your experiences, good or bad. They all get smoothed out so that the skating can begin again.
This meditation stirs things up, and lets you release them. It washes out tension like water. It’s good for a bright spring day, or pretty much every day. Also, the name is hilarious.
During the meditation I was very distracted, my mind wandered all over my body, but when we opened our eyes I felt amazing. Harshada said this is common; to get more enjoyment out of the actual experience, the actual transformation, focus on the heart.
I’ve been wearing black this week, grieving the death of summer. And my practice; I’ve now got wrist pain to match my tricky hips. Le sigh. I’d had a couple weeks to rest it; I’d been running and biking to build up some strength. I finally realized I needed to ask a yoga teacher for some advice; it was not getting any better on its own.
On Friday some early plans fell through, so I dropped into Abhaya before dinner. It was their Dub Vibe class: slow, flowing Anusara, with a live DJ spinning dub (reggae) in the back of the room. Sheila Donnelly was subbing for Tara, and knew just as much about anatomy. Her tips for my wrists:
Wrist pain in yoga usually means you’re putting too much weight in the heel of the hand.
Work on lifting the heels of the hands (in Down Dog and similar poses). You should be able to fit a couple pencils under the back of the palm.
To strengthen the wrists, practice on “ridge tops,” for short periods: lift the heels of the hands about three inches, until the weight is entirely in the bottom knuckles of the fingers. Or lift all the way onto your fingertips.
Most people lean weight towards the outsides of the hands; make sure the weight’s to the inner sides of the hands. The wrist should NOT be rotating outward.
So now I have some answers, some assignments. So grateful. On with class.
I was in a strange mood; things were hitting me very poignantly. I was feeling injured, and old; stymied and slow. But the class, and the music, made waves. Seven students sprawled across the space. One had brought her baby; it chirped, and grabbed its feet. We chanted, and focused, and saluted the setting sun. The pace was kind; the teacher was calm. DJ Ceiba gave us “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” The pressure cloud started to lift. We helped each other jump into Handstand; I knew I couldn’t do it, but then all of the sudden I was there. My partner jumped right up, and stuck it; he’s 75 years old. I felt less old :) I felt a sense of perspective, or scale. We found relaxation for the night.
Elias, demonstrating Bakasana: You can stay here, with the toes on the ground. That’s the pink variation. Or you can lift one foot, that’s the blue variation. Or the other foot, that’s still blue. Or lift both feet, that’s the purple variation. Any color you wish; all colors are light.
Rough quote, but it was a beautiful use of language. To get people to detach from chasing “advanced” variations, just because they’re there, we need to eliminate the hierarchy of Beginner < Intermediate < Advanced. The variations are like colors, distinct but equal; we just want to choose the one that feels right for the moment.
Student: Why do I feel like I’m pulling my shoulder out if its socket? [in Visvamitrasana]
Tara: You might be!
This wake-up call drew a big round of laughter from the class. It’s easy to forget that the asanas are serious challenges for the body. (She went on to explain that we need to draw the shoulder strongly back into its socket to counteract the force of the leg.)