Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back to Level 2 - Jen is a Gem!

A number of my fellow yogi friends at Sunset Yoga have been raving about Jen Shonk, a fairly new teacher at the center (well she has been there for sometime now). Today I decided to take a level 2 class from her as I will be missing my regular Monday night class next week which Jen attends as well. So a make up in advance....

I must say that this was one of the best classes I have recently taken. Jen started with the patanjali chant in a virasana position; a new variation for me. I had forewarned her that back bends and pinch mayurasana were my nemesis. I mentioned my back problems but forgot to mention about my knee problems. Her class felt like more of a level 2/3 rather than a level 2 and it reminded me of the Saturday morning level 2/3 with Nina, which I am no longer able to take.

After a series of Uttanasana and Adho Mukha Svanasana poses we moved into hand stand(s). Today was not my day for Adho Mukha Vrksasana, despite a fair amount of practice last Friday and then in class on Monday night. But I managed one with some assistance. I think this happens when I am thinking too much on how to get into the pose. Jen encouraged us to try to balance. This was a small class so Jen was able to give each one of us personal attention. She suggested trying with both legs - I usually go up with my right leg. My left leg refuses to lift up... practice practice practice, those words from Enlighten up! echo in head. Detach Detach Detach I had to tell myself ...

Next there were was a shoulder and arm strengthening exercise prior to one of my nemesis - Pinch Mayurasana! I have only been successful a few times in performing this pose and mostly in intense practice with Nuvana. Jen explained the pose in intricate detail including how to position your thumb and index finger around the blocks that are flush against the wall. There has to be a gap and the wrists firmly bent inwards, and upper shoulders pushed back. Revelation! I always had them flushed with the block. Up I went on my first try and I could even balance.

There were no sighs, no grunts or groans, as I have become conscious of them since Monday. I was simply relieved and overjoyed as I had miserably failed in performing this asana on Monday along with the back bends. "Thanks Jen" is what came out. I tried a second time and it worked. I was tired by the third try - my heart is racing.... I drop back and held back my groan, but hey everyone else is groaning, so why was I picked out on Monday :) ! There is a whole blog post coming on groaning in class ....At least I didn't fart or exhibit bad body odor....but groaning, how can you not, especially when you have tight hamstrings and you are pushing yourself to really get into the pose...Detach, Detach, Detach from these thoughts, I had to repeat to myself!

We moved to Trikonasana and the revolved version next, with the back foot flush against the wall. I asked Jen why my neck felt so tight. She got me back into the pose and showed me how to avoid it. Just let go of your head and keep it in line with your body and not raise it, just rotate it as you rotate your chest... what a revelation and several in class had the same problem..

We eventually moved to back bends, Urdhva Dhanurasana, and started off with inclined blocks on the wall along with a bolster. Back bends are the least practiced poses for me. My experience today and in Monday's class tells me I need to start practicing this more often. I actually did better than Monday. I could get raise with the crown of my head and felt the strength to raise higher still in my second attempt. I couldn't go beyond the head without the blocks and bolster, so Jen had me switch positions. She asks me to grab her legs and she pulled me up into the real pose.. At the same time I am hearing groaning from another fellow victim of tightness..I feel the thoughts around groaning coming back into my head again, I am developing a groan/noise complex.. I quickly had to detach to another more joyful one..

Wow I said to myself.. that felt good. I used to do this easily when I was 10. And now at 43, years of lethargy, bad posture, sitting at a desk all day in front of computer results in tight shoulders, hips, back, hamstrings.. u name a body part and I can claim the tightness. Somewhere in the sequence of back bends there was a wall supported Ustrasana and Viparita Dandasana on chair. Serious work out...

The shavasana at the end felt great even though my eyes remained wide open and I had a slight cough. Next time I need to raise my head a bit. I liked Jen's style. I told her I would be back again next time I need a make up. I think its great to try different teachers. Nuvana encourages me to, as every teacher has a unique way of teaching. You get a different perspective on different poses, and sometimes those unique "gems" in form of instructions can overcome your nemesis. But nothing beats "practice, practice, practice".. and "just being yourself"... and yes I am getting there...


The Yogi

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