Saturday, September 25, 2010

Focus on Practice

I felt as if I had good stamina today. I made it through my class and my work with no problems. I did all of my postures and felt pretty good about my practice.

When I'm in the standing separate leg head to knee pose, with my forehead on my knee, trying to keep my eyes open and not let sweat drip into eyes, sometimes I find myself looking at the mirrors on the side wall. More than once, I've been unable, for a moment at least, to tell which hips in black shorts and which set of legs are my own. It's a weird feeling!

I am finding that I have the strength and stamina to do a lot more consistent contracting of my muscles; I'm able to keep them contracted throughout postures. In the past, I found it very difficult. It feels great to be able to do it better, do it more.

It's most obvious in the old standing head to knee/lock the damn knee scenario (contracting the quadriceps), but I am seeing improvement in a lot of other postures when I focus on contracting muscles.

Keeping the arms straight and contracting triceps, focusing attention on my arms really helps me keep my balance better in the second part of awkward pose. I've had to work hard to focus on contracting the quads in the separate leg stretching posture. I was hyper-extending at the knee for a long time, focusing on other aspects of the posture, unaware that I wasn't engaging the quads. I especially feel a great difference when I contract the leg muscles, lock the knees, and contract the glutes in cobra pose. I am just really loving cobra pose lately.

The postures I want to work on most right now are bow pose and camel. I want to work on staying aligned well in these postures so that I'll be able to release into more of my spine. Right now, I'm aware of a lot of tiny odd things that I do with my neck if I'm not careful. I mean, I do hunchy little things, sort of going forward with my neck before I go back, and it makes a world of difference when I put my attention there and let things line up naturally.

It is amazing to find the myriad ways in which my body holds tension and how that tension can distort my body's natural healthy alignment. The distortions in the neck, back, and shoulders can be so subtle, and so habitual. Some things require a lot of work to change and/or release, but so many of them only ask us to pay a little more attention. How sweet that we can help ourselves with just a little focused effort.

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