After a delicious dinner of Vietnamese and a harrowing Whole Foods shop with B, I am ready to curl up, hydrate, read Dare Me by Megan Abbott (fab), and maybe finish a necklace I am making for a present. But right now, choirs of angels are singing and circles of chi are swirling outside my head. My chest is full with mata prana, which I understand to mean the great breath or energy.
I was lucky enough today to take a upper body therapeutics class with Justicia this afternoon, a really gifted Anusara and yoga therapeutics instructor and incredibly kind and encouraging teacher.
The class was initially daunting as it was attended by mostly extremely advanced yoginis, many of my favorite and regular instructors, and others in teacher training. But what the hell, I thought. I’m here to learn. And learn I did. I don’t pretend to be advanced or experienced enough to have my own school of yoga, although I enjoy what I have learned from Anusara, Ashtanga, and Yin. What I love about Anusara, and specifically about Justicia’s instruction, was that before you spread your fingers for downward facing dog or stand in uttanasana, the specific calculus for the asana is clear. This is safe and smart yoga, where you use the energy of your body and alignment to get the safest and most precise position.
Ok, the class remained daunting because these women are fierce. But I am so glad I came with an open mind and shut down the judging in my brain because I got SO MUCH feedback on my shoulders, a place I critique constantly and worry about my inability to align. My down dog is good (WHO KNEW?? YAY!!).
I learned how to fill my chest with energy and breath (mata prana), then pull my shoulders back and let the blades fall, and tilt my head to have the proper curve in my lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine, pull from my inner forearms and biceps while pushing with my shoulders and outer forearms.
All of which was awesome, but not as cool as FINALLY getting to do a standing and folding mudra pose (with a strap in a circle) and actually LIFT my arms more than an inch away from my tush.
I think I made it 6 inches and could really tell how to rotate my upper arms out and lower arms in to deeply engage the shoulders.
Sure I used a strap, but I have done some version of this pose for more than 35 days with little change.
But today, I got some lift!
Alignment rocks. What an amazing class!