I'm going to throw down two posts about yesterday and this morning: one is more about energy (this one) and one more about climbing walls and yoga (that one). Here goes:
This morning found me with a lot of sensation in the lateral hips (anatomically speaking: gluteus medius, tensor fasciae latae, perhaps very upper rectus femoris). The usual tight and energy-balled-up spots. The first things I feel post-practice, as far as "return to average tightness" is concerned.
So: practice was 5 A's, 5 B's, standing sequence. When I jumped through to seated, I didn't want to do a single forward bend. In my head all I could see was baby backbends like bow and camel. So I decided to take a shot at leaping into Intermediate. Pasasana was doable but REALLY intense in the outside hips. Not painful like "ow ow make it stop" and not tight like "ooooff can't bind hands..." but more like the "energy hangover" you can get from a big adjustment. For example, if you've ever been pressed flat in Baddha Konasana (cobbler's pose, bound angle, butterfly pose, and a hundred other names), you might have felt the intense rotation in the hip sockets that can accompany a huge forward bend in that position.
Usually after Baddha K I feel a sort of ember-glowing "energy ball" in the hips, and it's difficult to just jump back and set up the next pose. Perhaps that's part of the challenge.
And that got me thinking about energy and stiffness, and this all hooks up to a comment from Bindi on my prior post. Yes, stiffness is productive. It not only sets your limits, it sets your challenges. I know very flexy people who are literally falling apart in the joints from being overflexible. And so yes, it is not a matter of "waiting for later in the day to develop flexibility." There's definitely something to practicing at the level of challenge rather than at the level of achievement. Sure, achievement feels better for the ego ("Hey look at me, I'm doing pose Q!") and challenge is often less physically comfortable (my morning dropbacks, for example), but as I learned last year in dawn practices, whatever you can do at dawn, you can really do. For me it's all a matter of choosing the challenge, and it is harder, SO much harder, to choose challenge than to choose achievement, particularly with that San Francisco legacy of "second is usually given when the student can drop back and stand up." That continues to bug me, but I've already written pages and pages about that.
But I'm now thinking, after this morning's somewhat bizarre (energy?? stiffness??) practice, that maybe this "glowing ember" sensation in the hips is the beginning of an opening, a process that's going on there. It was NOT just "oh I'm tight in the hips." I KNOW what that feels like. This was more like "Man, I did some SERIOUS hip work yesterday." And maybe I did--a return to climbing walls after four months off. But that is where the second post begins.