changing up

This last week has seen the biggest change to my practice in years!

Last Saturday my teacher Sarah took myself and 4 others to practice with her teacher – Denise Martin-Harker. Denise is an old student of John Scott and studies with Manju Jois hosting him when he comes to the UK. She also runs an Ashtanga teacher training progamme. I’m interested in doing her teacher training after the last course that I signed up to fell through.

I’ve met her a few times before when she’s been down in Brighton when Manju visits, normally around September time. She has an amazing practice and she’s really insightful. Our time with her was very much workshop style self practice and she prescribed us each with a different practice and gave us homework.

I didn’t get very far into the practice before she stopped me – at dve the 2nd position in the first sun salutation and gave me new instructions about positioning my hands further forward. I was slightly bemused by this quick intervention. She also got most of us do do a split primary and intermediate – practicing up to Supta Kurmasana and then going onto intermediate up until Ustrasana in my case. I’d never done this before so it made for an interesting change.

the new way

I’d always assumed that I’d do a traditional split which would mean practicing all of standing, primary and intermediate up to at least Eka pada sirsasana. Obviously for me it’s going to take many years and well over two hours each morning. So I’m open to trying this alternative route. On the way back I asked Sarah about how it would work. It’s a two day split – on the first day you do the sequence that I mentioned above. the next day you do standing and then start at Navasana and practice through until Ustrasana.

The second split is actually deceptively difficult. It’s shorter but I find that I’m not sufficiently warmed up to get into Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana without help from Sarah. The first split is also rather challenging because you go from Supta Kurmasana which is the peak of primary series straight into Pashasana which is also requires great strength and flexibility. But hey I’m not complaining.

Last week was the first full week that I did this new split and as expected it was very hard work. It’s great to be working on all the back bends at the beginning of intermediate every day. I’m surprised by how hard I find the postures, particularly Salabhasana. By Thursday I got as far as Marichyasana C before I ground to a halt on the mat with exhaustion. I went home early that afternoon and went straight to sleep. Friday morning I slept in and had a good primary series practice in the evening.

A tough but rewarding week with more to follow. I’m expecting that it’ll take my body around 4 – 6 weeks to adjust to this new regime. I have to say I’m grateful for the challenge and the change.

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