Before one of the classes at Laurie Blakeney’s workshop, she had us put a strap around our knees and behind the shoulder blades by the armpits. Knees are high and ankles are crossed. She said this is a common image seen with Hindu deities and she saw old pictures of Indian town leaders also in this seated configuration with strap.
About five minutes in this pose and the abdomen and groins soften tremendously. The strap also hits you in your mid thoracic making you lift your chest. I had my niece demo the pose.
On the last night of the workshop she taught an intensive inversion intermediate level class. We worked on hand positions for Sirsasana I, II, and baddha hasta sirsasana. In her classic fashion of using her experience as a piano tuner has a vehicle for awareness, she had us utter parts of the Patanjali Innvocation while we were in these different Sirsasanas. If our voice was wavering that meant we were straining too hard. She then had us monitor the effect of our abdomen with the different hand positions. As this was a class with fairly seasoned practitioners, she encouraged us to “be very interested” in these subtleties of the postures to remain interested in Yoga, as the basic instructions which involve mere stretching cues have been rehashed ad nauseam after decades of practice.She also did some work on the Salamba Sarvangasana I and II and Niralamba Sarvangasana I and II. Lately in my Sarvangasana practice I have felt an overwhelming panic sensation if I remain in classic Halasana for more than 30 seconds. It has been a strange phenomenon in since my prostate surgery several years ago. So rather than suffer through it, I shamelessly used a chair for halasana.
She rounded off the night by doing all the forward bend variations: Paschimottanasana, Marichyasana I, Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana, Triangmukhaikapada Paschiomottanasana, and Janu Sirasasana. She said just as a thoroughbred horse needs to to be run through the various drills, we as practitioners need to run through the different variations from time to time to stretch out our might. “But sometimes the horse starts to get old,” she said with corresponding chuckles. Can’t wait to see Laurie when she comes back next year…