Sunday, July 4, 2010

6 things I'm loving about practice right now

  • Not being orthodox. Since being back I’ve practiced either at the shala, at home, or not at all (took a day off to be with family at the beach). It’s nice not to be too regimented about the whole thing.
  • Not doing my full practice (which can take 2.5 hours). Enjoying the freedom to jump around and experiment with things.
  • Home-practices in my de-cluttered room. Having lots of empty floor space and a clear desk has turned my room into a lovely space to practice asana and/or sitting.
  • Jumpbacks (or “jumpforwards” as Richard would call them). Still can’t do them smoothly but 1) I feel less attached to them, and 2) I’m having fun in my attempts. I’ve also been working on jumping back with my left foot first. This is so much harder for me! I didn’t realize I was getting lopsided always doing right foot first.
  • New iphone app (thanks for this idea, Mariana!). Rings a bell to start/end a sitting meditation and you can choose 20, 30, or 40 minute sessions (wish they had a 10 minute option, hah).
  • Kapotasana. Still so painful but I’ve been playing with entering this pose from the opposite direction (another Richard trick). I pretend to go into a backbend but then drop my knees to the floor in front of me and walk my hands in (helps keep the quads/pelvic floor engaged).


  1. Hi Christina, I love the de-cluttering part, it makes practice so much nicer, I always like to have that sense of space before I practice too. Also like the kapo trick from Richard, will keep it in mind for when I get there...

  2. Hey Christina

    What a breath of fresh air! Thanks for bringing your practice and your profession into the same breath and putting it on the page.

    Can we feature your blog on The Magazine of Yoga on our yoga blog fan page? (Sample post:

    If so, please send a photo of you that we can use.

    Either way, DON'T STOP posting! It's a real pleasure reading about what's on your mind!

    Best Regards
    Susan Maier-Moul

  3. Christina...I LOVE this post. The detachment, the experimentation, the fun. Your jump-back experiment is awesome — it really helped me to switch feet, too. And this is a great Kapotasana idea...I might try it, too :) You start standing? Or on your knees...?

  4. I used to always jump through with the same leg in front. At some point, a few months after my Ashtanga practice became very consistent, one side of my abdomen started hurting, and I realized the cause. I had to learn to jump through the other way, though it was very clunky for a while, as one of my knees does not bend as easily as the other. I still haven't started jumping back with the second side leading, though. My knee injury prevented me from being able to bend the knee enough to jump back that way. Now that my knee is feeling quite a bit better, I need to start trying that again. Interestingly, though, it seems that jumping back with the same side every day has not created as much of an imbalance for me; jumping *through* only on one side was much more detrimental.

    So, I do wonder about the imbalance that is created with the jump-through. The Ashtanga teachers I've worked with all seem to jump through with straight legs, so this imbalance wouldn't occur for them, since they do a symetrical jump-through. I imagine, then, that the need to switch your cross is often overlooked by teachers, since they are teaching you to jump through with straight legs. I hear, however, that Sharath prefers the cross-leg jump-through over the straight-leg jump-through, so I wonder if/what he has to say about switching the cross.

  5. Hey guys!
    Hmm Frank, I wonder why Sharath prefers the cross-leg jump through over straight-leg... any ideas why that might be?

    Rebecca, for the Kapo thing: I start lying on my back, bend my knees, and as I push up with my hands I drop my knees forward onto the ground. Maybe it would work to start standing though -- drop back then drop your knees to the ground? I don't know, we should play around with it!

  6. Frank...I like your post. I always alternate my legs when I jump back (and I keep track by whatever Asana I am in: like Janu A on left side, I swing the left leg in front to jump back, and vice versa). But, funny enough, before I started jumping through with straight legs I would always cross the same way to jump through. I know Sharath says "Jump through, straight legs, sit down," which I take to mean "Jump through with crossed legs, then straighten them, then sit," because he seems to do it that way. I'm not sure why Sharath would prefer one over the other. I am finding the latter much, much easier. It seems to take less energy somehow.

    Christina...I LOVE this Kapo idea. I'm going to try it next week :) Thank you.

  7. Nice side change up Frank. One of the few ashtangis with 4 decades of practice, David Williams, changed his padmasana to left leg first a few years, maby decades ago, so he can flick into it either way. it was surprising to see that ALL the wall pictures in Tibet seemed to have monks doing padmasana left leg first...and our sidedness does seem to create a physical imbalance in our hips, maybe temporary as we go through future series? dont know. but there does seem to be some magic in how the series is so i just do it as sharath directs us...i choose to jump cross legged in jump throughs with hips high in order to emphasize my bandha engagement as it seems to be needed in karandavasana latter on, but who knows, all is good!

  8. What I heard is that Sharath says that jumping through with crossed legs requires more control of the bandhas. I must've read this on a blog somewhere, but I'm not sure exactly which one.

    I am wondering about this different approach to Kapo: if you do it this way, is the pose more comfortable? I guess I'd have to see it, but I imagine that if you start from standing and bring the elbows and head down into position, when you kneel there would be a substantial risk of dropping the knees to the ground too quickly (i.e., falling). You could end up overstretching your lumbar spine if your hip flexors don't elongate quickly enough. Or maybe I am imagining this wrong.

    Also, if you are able to touch (walking the hands in) at least your toes when entering Kapo in the usual fashion, it would seem that starting from standing, your hands would actually be *farther* from your feet--unless you can actually grab your heels while in the back-bend and THEN start kneeling into Kapo (and I am quite sure that if you can do that you probably don't have too much trouble with Kapo). But if you're not touching your feet in the back-bend, I'm not sure how it would make a tighter or more comfortable Kapo, unless your hands don't usually make it anywhere near your feet. Video, anyone?

  9. Yes I have heard same thing about jumping through with crossed legs. Some people who are flexible can fling themselves through with straight legs.

    Yep, I'm curious about the kapo too and Frank I love your comment as it sums up my confusion! Is it helping you Christina?

    Love this post by the way, lots of surrendering, what pose are you practising up to, I have a long practice at the moment too.

  10. John, in his Intermediate Series book, Gregor Maehle says that the crossing of the legs in lotus (always right leg first) is balanced by the both-legs-behind head poses (always left leg first). So, Garbha Pindasana and Kukkutasana balance Bhuja Pidasana and Supta Kurmasana. Dwi Pada Sirsasana and Yoganidrasana balance Supta Vajrasana (and perhaps Karandavasana?). If you get stuck in between a lotus pose and one that balances it for a long time (e.g., stuck on Eka Pada Sirsasana for many months), you can get an imbalance in the hips. However, he says that this is limited, in his experience, to coffee-drinking females, and that ceasing consumption of coffee cures the imbalance (switching to decaf works as well). I'm not sure, however, why the lotus at the end of practice for Yoga Mudra, etc. doesn't need to be balanced by something. And, come to think of it, Urdhva Padmasana as well. Perhaps it is that most people who can actually do lotus in the closing sequence generally get at least to Bhuja Pidasana, which balances the lotus. Still, in thinking of the entire Primary Series, as an example, including closing postures, you are in lotus far longer than you are with both legs crossed behind your head. Perhaps it's not perfectly even, but it's just enough time with legs crossed behind head to balance all the lotus? Or maybe it doesn't need to be a 1-to-1 breath count? Or maybe due to asymmetry in the abdominal cavity, you actually need more time spent in lotus than in both-legs-behind-head?

    Personally, I do worry about always putting left leg behind head before right. Naturally, I spend more time getting the first leg behind, trying to get it as far back as I can, but my right hip has always been noticeably tighter than the left. Putting the left leg behind first encourages more opening in the left than it does in the right leg, but I believe I need the opposite. Not sure how to address that--or if I even need to address it. But I do worry that I could be exacerbating the existing imbalance in the opening of my hips.

  11. interesting,,,feels like the tighter rt first padmasana presses more off center on the hips then the broader leg behind head or over shoulder...i do switch my leg crosses in janus to short cut the landing, woah! i think we are far to unknowing of nutrition in general let alone its realtionship to yoga and how it varies by individual to make those kinds of statements, have to think he was somehow laughingly saying that...long thread, hey? om shanti all...

  12. Coffee drinking females??? That's bizarre. Any clarification on that, Frank?!

    Re the Kapo thing: those are all good questions and I think it's just something to play around with and see what works for you. I probably wouldn't come into it from standing though - it does seem like you could fall quickly into it (I might try this out and see what happens).

    So I just lie on my back and push up into a backbend and then bring my knees to the floor. For me, this makes my hands farther from my heels and yes, perhaps makes the whole pose more difficult. But it brings a new perspective and works different muscles compared to the regular way, and it definitely helps me keep my pelvic floor engaged. Not sure if it'll help me eventually grab my heels, but something to experiment with!

  13. He says the effect of coffee is due to females' lower muscle tension. Read the orange box and footnote #24 here:

    Not a problem anymore (if ever) once you add Dwi Pada.