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Home Practice – Knocked Up

Several people have been asking me whether I’ve been practicing asana through my pregnancy.  This is kind of a sensitive issue and I have been dithering on whether or not to post about it, because I don’t think there’s any one right answer here and I think all humans, regardless of their reproductive status, should follow their hearts and do what feels right.

Hips don't lie.

However, I absolutely, 100%, credit Anusara Yoga specifically and its teachings with helping me through this process with relative comfort, power, stamina and ease.  My understanding of the Universal Principles of Alignment have never been more essential to understanding how to heal and soothe my body as it undergoes this process and sustains the life of not one but two little larval humans.  A huge part of this is due to the fact that I had a strong yoga practice for many years in advance, so again, I’m not saying just jump right in to these particular poses and forms…but if you want to start to practice yoga for prenatal purposes, even before you seal the deal so to speak, find an Anusara yoga teacher.  Here’s why:

- Practices that depend on or begin with a very hard, short front body will either be a) uncomfortable b) painful or c) impossible.  You’ve all been to school, you understand the birds and the bees, so if this baby’s gonna make a break for it there’s really only one legit direction for it to go, and if you wall that off you are fighting life.  In fact, I don’t endorse that kind of approach for ANY body, much less a pregnant body, but it becomes more urgent in this situation.  In addition, the tendency of a pregnant woman to externally rotate her hips and flatten her lumbar spine [a.k.a. "the waddle", you've all seen it] will merely be exacerbated by unnecessarily tight and tense abs and butt.

- Resting is great, believe me; I’ve become a master at the 11-hour epic sleep, and since my 3rd trimester I’ve been breaking up active poses with restoratives [see below].  Hauling ass the way you used to is not respectful of your process and the amount of energy you need to build their little body, not to mention your own health and resources.  However, poses that are *only* passive allow any tissues that are becoming overstretched or excessively pliant to continue getting stringy and disengaged, and won’t actually let the tense, hard spots release [because your body, quite cleverly, knows that in order to safely release those spaces something else will have to do that supportive work].  So, active poses whenever possible.  My personal experience as well as the anecdata I’ve been gathering from other pregnant students and friends seems to indicate that yes, certain parts of your body turn to wobbly goo but others go hard as rocks and so [again, as with *all* humans] to try and treat any discomfort with a one-sided approach will not remedy the imbalance.  Balanced action:  sequential application of the principles.  Okay. (more…)

Non Grumpy Post – Stuff I Like, Winter 2010 Edition

I held off on the previous two posts cause I thought they were unreflective of how I actually feel, which is:  great.  They do have some funky ideers in them, though, if I do say so myself [even if most of the ideers are borrowed if not outright stolen].  Yup, it’s been a tremendous winter and some of the contributing factors are delineated below:

1.  Finally shelled out for the iPad.  I’m still figuring out how it hooks up with the WordPress app and am so far having minimal luck with my style of blog posting [i.e.:  irregular, dilettantish, and when finally prepared, overcomplicated] but it’s perfect for everything else I want to do…primarily having access to the Internet as close to my frontal lobe as possible.  It’s durable, cuddly, shiny and small.  Definitely looking forward to travelling with it, although I haven’t had as many travel opportunities in ’10 as in ’09.

2.  Christine and I will be teaching an advanced workshop at Yoga For The People on Sunday January 30 2011 from 12:30 to 3:30.  Watch this space for details.

3.  I get to teach at the stunning Inner Space on Thursday nights from 5:30 to 6:45.  It makes me feel so good just being there.  If you’ve never been, check it out.

4.  Yaletown Yoga will be closed for renovations from Dec. 10 through Dec. 20.  Until its new gorgeousness is unveiled, catch me at Inner Space above or Big Rock Friday.

Just one; I am full of babies. Whattaya need?

5a).  Being pregnant with twins is way more awesome than I had been led to believe.  Thank Everything for Anusara yoga, without which I am really not sure how I would cope with this new body in the context of yoga or at least what I previously thought yoga was about.  For front body softness, thigh loop, muscular energy in the legs to alleviate SI pain…but mostly front body softness and trusting the divine…thanks John.  Srsly.  It’s so sweet to be able to continue with an active practice and not be treated like a fragile delicate flower just because OMG THE CORE.  Handstands and forearm balance feel the best, with backbends a close second.  Oh, and eating whatever I want.  [Side rant:  Why is this only permissible when in the ostensibly self-sacrificial mode of gestating humans?  Whoops, I forgot this is supposed to be a non-grumpy post.]

5b) This is why I haven’t posted too much:  because while of course this is a big deal in my world I haven’t wanted to write about it.  It’s like very quiet music that only I can hear, and while I could conceivably gas on and on about the subjective inner experience, it can be alienating and/or tedious.  It’s also a very sensitive topic.  Now that they are getting a bit bigger, and hopefully more stable, and people are getting out of my way when I go to the mall, I suppose it’s more public-domain.  I am terribly pleased, though :)

6.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  I wish it was snowing more, mostly because I got the first proper winter coat I’ve had since university, and also because I enjoy the State of Emergency snow provides here on the West Coast…or, well, to be perfectly clear, I enjoy not SUCCUMBING to the State of Emergency that seems to prevail because it makes me feel tough, and you all know how much I like to feel tough.  Stay warm, everyone.  Happy Hanukkwanzmas.

Home Practice 2

I was gearing up for some good Eka Pada Koundinyasana B, or II, or whatever floats your boat, as I had some trouble with it in class the night before.  It’s always been a bit of a problem pose for me.  As it happened, today I held the right side for a good 4 breaths, even getting a softer heart, but couldn’t even get my left side up at all!!  snarl!  Ah, well, my feeling in practice lately is to emphasize our first glorious principle of alignment:  take a big breath, soften, get spacious, and calm down.

Cat/cow…getting a bit anarchic towards the end, side bending and whatnot

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Uttanasana

Parsva Uttanasana

Urdhva Hastasana

Surya Namaska w/low lunges, just flowin’, ya dig?

Adding a simple twist to the lunges, emphasizing the openness in the low waist where I get a little stuck.  Should try forgetting to pay the gravity bill this month.

Standing side bend from Urdhva Hastasana

Parsva Konasana:  Before doing all of my “homework”, I just paused and grooved on it for a while.  Man, that pose is sweet.

Vira II variation w/hands clasped behind back

Utkatasana to Uttanasana w/hands clasped behind back

Parvritta Utkatasana

Abdominal Exercises Vol. 1:  Straight leg raises, nice’n'slow

At the wall:  Adho Mukha Vrksasana, scissoring up, alternating legs and trying to peg the midline right at the top.  Good times.

Abdominal Exercises Vol 2:  From Navasana, right leg & torso lower, then back up, then switch

More AMV, this time longer holds…ButtPower™

Trikonasana – Ardha Chandra Chapasana – Standing split

Visvamitrasana prep

Eka Pada Koundinyasana II [with spotty results, see above]

Balasana

Janu Sirsasana – Parvritta Janu Sirsasana

Paschimottanasana

Savasana

Try this at home! [level 1/2 practice]

Home Practice 1 – PMS and football

Man, have I mentioned lately that I freaking LOVE YOGA??? I just got off my mat completely transformed. I took a sub class on this afternoon to help out a friend and it was a class that I usually took, so the ol’ bod felt a bit rough around the edges when I got home today. When I’m approaching my moon my psoas feels like it’s about to leap out of my body and lash unsuspecting civilians across the face like a piano wire. That doesn’t improve my mood either. So I hit the deck with the intention to open and soften that area and I think it worked out pretty well…ah.

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Twisted lunge > Virabhadrasana II > Parsva konasana preparation [with the emphasis on the back thigh back]
  • Parvritta Uttanasana
  • Virabhadrasana I > Virabhadrasana III > Ardha Chandrasana >Uttanasana, with a bit of old
  • Utkatasana in between
  • Prasarita Padottanasana > w/a twist, one arm far out in front and grab the opposite ankle
  • Trikonasana from that wide stance
  • Prasarita again
  • Ardha Hanumanasana [crispy PMS hamstrings, ugh]
  • Adho Mukha Vrksasana [might as well work something strong with this stiff body; not too bad today!]
  • Pincha Mayurasana
  • Baddha Parvritta Parsva Konasana [dude...whoa]
  • Hanumanasana [THIS was the big shift. This fixes everything. It is truly the Buckley's Mixture of asanas. Tastes awful, and it works]
  • Supta Virasana, got M to stand on my hip creases=thighs back
  • Supta Padangusthasana, as above [what a great partner adjustment, I can feel my eyes rolling back in my head just thinking about it]
  • Urdhva Dhanurasana x 2
  • Eka Hasta Urdhva Dhanurasana, hand right on the knee and pulling in
  • Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana 1 w/back leg in Ardhha Bhekasana to
  • Parvritta Janu Sirsasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Savasana

Now it’s the 49ers/Cardinals and I’m-a make some soup. Please, try this at home! [level 1/2 practice]