Tag Archives: matsyasana

Today’s self practice showed me my challenges for the new year

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It was a fun yule tide, wasn’t it? All that feasting and sitting and feasting and sitting. I have to say that my personal practice has taken a back seat between the holidays, three jobs, and teaching more classes. Teaching classes for me does not equal practice, because I actually teach. In yesterday’s class I was teaching twisting poses, and realized that my practice has been sorely lacking. Today, I had a gap in my schedule that allowed me to sneak in some asana time at the studio.

For the first half hour of practice, I used the rope wall just to elongate my spine in Adho Mukha Svanasana and Uttanasna and address my tight hamstrings. I then hung in rope Sirsasana for a few minutes. That felt wonderful.

rope sirsasana with baddhakonasana

A good self practice is much like improvisational jazz music. You start with a theme and realize variations in that theme and go with it. What started out as back pain perceived from my tight hamstrings led to realizations of tightnesses in my groins and hips. I did a long supta padangusthasana I and II, ardha baddha padmottanasana and eventually wound up in Matsyasana. My groins cried.

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I finished with this chair Sarvangasana cycle that utilizes baddha konasana.

There is the famous saying “physician, heal thyself.” That applies even more to yoga teachers. I felt a profound relief after my practice, not just physically, but emotionally. My jobs are quite stressful and I am holding much of that stress in my body. My mentoring teacher Ray says that for every hour you teach, you should be doing double in your own practice. For me, that translates into 9 hours of practice. 7 more hours to go this week…

 

“Your hips are sensitive to the commands of the feet” Kofi day two

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“Twenty five percent of the bones in your body are in your feet,” Kofi Busia began as he started the class in Supta Padangusthasana (reclined big toe pose). In tonight’s class, no strange sequences, but just straight up classic yoga asanas in what appeared to be a forward bend sequence. Kofi talked at length about the relationship between the feet and the hips.

He talked about how arthritis in the hips is directly related to how you use your feet incorrectly while walking. “The difference between us and our simian friends are that our feet stay rigid when we lift them off the ground,whereas a primate’s feet go limp,” said Busia as he related that concept of how we stand straight in Tadasana by using this rigidity in our feet like we do when we anticipate stepping on the ground. He talked about how in walking and running, our nervous system anticipates the “heel strike” of hitting the floor repeatedly, and how the bones slot into each other to accommodate each step.

Kofi’s sequence was subtle in how it released the hips. We did standing poses Utthita Trikonasana, Utthita Parsvakonasana, Virabhadrasana II, Utkatasana, and Prasarita Padottanasana, the rest were seated forward bends and reclined “difficult poses” like Supta Virasana and Matsyasana. In tonight’s class, I chose to to Supta Virasana without props (he does not give instructions on how to do the poses). Soon afterwards, he had us in Matsyasana as seen below.

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I love the internal process of these reclined Padmasana postures. You can literally feel every fiber of your groins release as the knees and the outer thigh get heavier on the ground. This can be painful at first, and all I could visualize were my thick thighs from years of competitive bicycle racing in my youth unwinding like a large dense python.

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Kofi then did Salamba Sirsasana and Salamba Sarvangasana in succession. He held us in Halasana forever (see Poses You Dread). I went through the whole gamut of emotions in this pose. What every Kofi was saying just sounded like listening to an Encyclopaedia Brittanica CD about hip structures playing in the background. This Halasana was so internal that I experienced glimpses of Pratyahara.

He then had us do a drop back setu bandha which I felt was very liberating. He held us here forever too.

Then, out of left field, he has us do Ardha Matseyandrasana II. I was never able to do this pose well and tonight I got my hand to the thigh! This seemed to be the target asana and the prize he was preparing us for all class.

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The twist was effective in releasing my tight back from the previous night’s class. I was able to ask him what the word he used last night for muscles. It was “mamsa” which is Sanskrit translated into flesh or meat and refers not just to the muscles, but to the ligaments and tendons. It is an aruyvedic term. Kofi appears to use many ayurvedic principles in his teaching.

There is always that sadness when class is over and another year will go by before I see Kofi again. The concepts I will take from this workshop will be that it is sometimes okay to do things in an unorthodox way when you know enough to keep yourself safe. I also have the confidence in “earning” an new posture in Ardha Matseyandrasana II.