I did my first outdoor practice today and it was just completely lovely. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do a challenging mixed levels class, after inversion and the gym on Friday and my tough slow flow on Saturday. Instead of being allergic or mad about the heat or picky about footing, my body decided that while it was going to sweat A LOT, it was going to give me a lot in this wonderful, loving practice under the trees.
I should mention that I am a complete freak about trees. I love to draw them. I love to sit and read under them and I’ve been known to randomly hug them. It’s an old, old love that I really tapped into during my practice today, which gave me such a sense of peace, love, and excitement about my life!
Choosing a pose today was really hard, because we honed in on so many I love and I got a bit better at things I have been struggling with. I felt really able to let go and “work at my edge” as my yogini Rox reminds us. But in honor of the trees (and some of the special challenges of yoga), I picked Tree Pose or “Vrksasana.” In “Light on Yoga,” Iyengar praises the pose because it “tones the leg muscles and gives one a sense of balance and poise.”
This is the ideal. Foot above the knee, balance on one foot, arms up, face up and EYES closed. I can hold the pose this way (with my foot below the knee – above the knee is going to take time) for 10-15 seconds on my right foot, longer if I keep my eyes opened. At a minimum, I can usually hit it with my hands in anjali mudra and hold it with the class on my right foot. On that leg, my goals are (1) foot above knee, (2) longer holds, (3) lighter sways with eyes closed, and/or (4) really pulled back arms and shoulders and a full gaze at the ceiling.
But Vrksasana on my left leg (which is considerably weaker because of a traumatic ankle injury and two surgeries, not to mention years of favoring), is a totally different story.
Some days even my leg on my calf and my hands in anjali mudra (prayer pose) is difficult. Some days I can get my arms up, but will lose my balance after 10-15 seconds and just not be able to get it back on my left leg for the rest of class. I have modified it down so that my right foot tripods at my ankle, but I hate doing it.
This is the goal in terms of energy flow and muscle movement.
But the bigger goal is to balance on my left foot with the arms above my head, breathing, for more than a minute. To have balance and poise.