Hit the mat last night with Ms. Barbara, who dug deep into her history to teach the Ashtanga primary series. Before class (a smattering of the 2008 and 2009 teacher trainees jumped at the opportunity) my friend Jane joked "at least there won't be any abs" and I thought that Barb wuld sneak some in there. I was right - she found time for one set of abs before we moved into a pretty standard issue Ashtanga class.
A tad bit slower than a class filled with Ashtanga diehards might be, I suspect. We moved through vinyasa between postures (not between sides) and Barb stopped to demo a few things as we moved deeper into the twists and binds part of practice, but in general it was a deep and rolling practice. I can see how Ashtanga fans love it - it really gets in deep; the body gets nice and warm and loose. So it was not surprising, really (although I was, in the moment, shocked) to find myself sitting in full lotus pose (twice, for a few seconds) near the end of practice. First time ever. And like all of my "edge" postures - handstand, wheel, forearm balance - it was both exhilerating and terrifying.
I can see how a regular Ashtanga practice might blow out the body - shoulders, wrists, back - which is why it's not a regular studio offering. But it was so delicious to work through a practice that was deep and strong and challenging. Barb might make one practice a month a regular Ashtanga practice (a treat, there are plenty of folks in the studio who would love it, and we always get calls from folks looking for this variety of yoga). "It's a hard practice to teach and assist" she said afterwards - and I encouraged her to make use of her teacher trainees - there are two classes of us - 70 yogi's - who would jump at the chance to step into the studio and assist her, take a little bit of the load off.
Afterwards, my teacher and friend Nykki who took the class (and in fact, was the instigator of this little experiment) was beaming. I practice with Nykki a few times a week, and I practice with her regularly, and it was sweet to see her really enjoy a practice at the studio. One thing I have seen is that teaching really impacts one's ability to get one's own practice in (less so for me, I do not teach all that much and my own practice has plenty of space for growth) but some of the senior teachers do not really get the chance to get deep into their bodies with the regular class schedule, they get kind of pot bound in a way and need to go outside of the studio for their yoga fix. So it's nice to see a friend and beloved teacher with that post-practice glow and buzz.....
Was pretty happy with my body last night - the usual kvetching about belly and flesh getting in the way of the deep twists and binds, of course. And the crankiness in my shoulder during vinyasa in the middle / end of the series. But my strained left calf muscle was pretty quiet - reverse triangle was really the only place I struggled and needed to modify - the warrior, triangle, pyramid, and forward fold postures (where I might expect some difficulty) were all fine. A little sensation and awareness, but no pain or strain. And it all feels good this morning....beyond the deeper, yummy ache of a strong practice.
I'm teaching a lot in the coming week:
* Friday 7/3 - WHY Power I @ 10:45 AM, $5 Gentle @ 12:15 PM
* Sunday 7/5 - Gentle @ 9:00 AM (sub for Sharon)
* Monday 7/6 - $5 Gentle @ 12:15 PM (sub for Sharon) and Core-Ab at 7:45 PM
* Tuesday 7/7 - Gentle @ 9:15 AM (sub for Sharon) and Hot @ 4:30 PM (sub for Carissa, maybe)
* Wednesday 7/8 - All Levels @ 9:00 AM, 7:00 PM class in Meriden (sub for Dennis)
* Friday 7/10 - WHY Power I @ 10:45 AM
Then off to Kripalu for a weekend workshop with Shiva Rae! Yeah!