The last two days practice have been slow and modified. One to Laghuvajrasana, another just Primary. Many many things are backed up for comfort: Mari A with barely any forward fold, Mari B and/or D unbound, even Mari C unbound, Utthita Hasta with no forward fold, Janu C with hands barely to foot, all half-lotuses difficult but bound, Garbha Pindasana with arms wrapped around rather than through, Supta Kurmasana unbound in both places, and so on. Often only the third backbend has arms straight. No dropping back. And so on.
This is all just random, inexplicable yet factual tightness in both hips, particularly in the glutes. Twists are impossible in full expression, many standing poses threaten to crack open the white-electric pain-release of the glutes, and I want to practice, not to stop after the trauma, so I back poses off. Lunges not 90 degrees in Vira 1, for example. Prayer hands, not hand to floor, in Parivrtta Parsvakonasana.
I know this is coming from about the second sun salutation and I just decide that I'm going to modify for survival, not crank for release.
It's exactly like I told David and Shelley: "I used to have an Intermediate practice, and some days I still do, but right now it's modified and often painful some-of-Primary; I do what I can."
There are huge differences between growing an ashtanga practice the first time, and returning to it the second time through injury or tension or whatever.
When you're growing (I'll use myself as an example), it's easy for the mindset to be "I'm gonna git you sucka!" You slightly overstrain but that's ok, you're gonna GET that pose, wrangle it down like a wild horse.
When you're returning to a practice, there's none of that at all. You listen, you decide that THAT's enough, whatever it is, and then you make as much of the shape as you can and you take a big happy five breaths. Ahh.
Practice can be dramatic when you're growing it, because maybe TODAY is the day you get that thing, reach that foot, bind those fingers, whatever. MAYBE TODAY! Whoo!
Practice can also be dramatic when you're returning, because in my case, I have no damn idea how a practice is going to go, until I step on the mat and make a few movements. I figure that if I keep practicing, ALL OF A SUDDEN my bound twists will come back (or not), and I have no idea at all when or if that'll happen. Every day is random and a little bit suspenseful, because this isn't an injury that will gradually heal or gradually worsen, it's part of an energetic rollercoaster called seventh series. Tomorrow could be full energy coming, or more crippled than today, and I'll have absolutely no way of even guessing, until I get on and move.
So it's kind of exciting. I don't have the SLIGHTEST idea what's going to happen on the mat until it's present and experiential. Talk about practical wisdom.
One is tempted to be cautious, but expectations can keep you from listening to the future when it becomes present, so I even abandon cautiousness until the body says, "Yes we should be cautious today." Maybe it'll say that and maybe it won't.
So it becomes largely a breathing exercise, and in today's Primary I was thinking, "all series can happen like this." Sure, not at the start, you're going to pant in those Intermediate backbends and Advanced arm balances, but still, it can all be like this.
The Simha Krama was great for cranking up my tapas for practice, but it didn't do anything to open my hips a great deal. I mean, when I'm in THAT SEQUENCE, I can prep a Kapo and I can drop back and what not, but when I'm in Primary series, I can't get a full forward fold and my backbends aren't nearly as big. This, again, is something that I'm sure has turned someone off ashtanga in the past. "But my other sequence lets me have bigger poses," yeah, it does, if what you want is BIGGER POSES.
Grimmly's video recently of Chuck Miller at Babylon Yoga is very informative: when CM is talking the woman through bridge-to-upward-bow, he says "Yeah we want to get the arms straight, get the next series, whatever, but what is that? It's nothing, it's empty."
And we all say that, right? "I don't care if I get whatever" but we know that we do. I've never stopped wanting to touch my damn heels in Kapotasana, as much as the pose seems OBVIOUSLY impossible, but in 2010 when I was getting halfway up the foot through rigorous practice, it seemed totally possible. This is a Bhagavad Gita moment: sure, crank into it, go get that posture, but then you give it up, "God doing." I see my own students do this: I want that, I want that; OH OK. Yeah when you get it, the skies do not open. Try to give up the wanter when the goal arrives.