Crisp air & quality of breath
Today it felt like this is a new lifestyle. It wasn’t even hard to get up at 5. Even my cat knows when I wake up now and we have our little small cosy morning routines.
It was very cold in Shanghai today, colder than Stockholm. I couldn’t even see out from the window when I woke up. Freezing Chinese people with too little clothes. I saw a man with his dog who played with a cardboard. It was beautiful to see, a man, his dog who looked so happy and playful, at 6 in the morning. It’s not very often you see that in Shanghai.
First it was just me and I was afraid no one else was going to turn up. Two brave women came then and together we kept warm in the cold room doing sun salutations.
There were three things that stroke me in today’s practice.
1. Half Lotus
I got some help to be able to do a forward fold on the floor into a half lotus. It’s funny somehow how such a small modification can make such a difference. It’s a matter of cm, sometimes mm. I can bend the knee and put the foot on the hip, but I’ve never been able to grab the foot with the other hand. Bu today I could! So happy, now I know how to get into this pose and how I can stretch further. Results come much quicker than I thought.
2. Vinyasa wave
The second thing was that I got some new insight into how to do a vinyasa properly. I think mine are not too bad but these days of practice I’ve started to feel more of a flow and continuity in the movements with less disruption. I feel more graceful getting in and out of poses and I love the feeling of moving with gravity and rolling the feet and waving into it like the ocean.
Basically with small modifications I can improve this movement that I do so many times in each practice. And then with time, I can build more arm strength so I can do more of the poses. Basically, you push back more and then come into Chaturanga Dandasana more from above, waiving down, forward with no touch in the floor. I hope I can practice this new approach tomorrow, excited.
3. Quality of the breath
The third thing was the breathing. Since it was so cold today we did a breathing exercise to start with. Similar to the fire breath in Bikram we exhaled strongly for 50 x 3 times. It requires a lot of focus and strength to do this. Then we had to follow a specific sequence of how to breath out, engage the mula bandha (pelvic floor), exhale completely and then inhale.
This now is a littlebit similar to that first cold breath of air after a Bikram yoga class! I still find it a bit hard with the mula bandhas and all that. It’s a little bit abstract and I’m not sure I’m doing it right. Raphael always talks about it, my other yoga teacher Nellie too. It makes me wonder, is this something that specifically has to do with Ashtanga yoga?
I’m curious and want to explore more of this in deeper depth. All has its time.
I could also feel a little bit sore in my “new wings” (the muscles outside of the ribs), after yesterday’s practice. I felt more energetic today, almost as I could have done more. Maybe I’m getting stronger. We did a little bit of the Compass pose too, I love this pose, it’s like a beautiful unfolded butterfly with powers that goes against each other.