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class discription: “One of the greatest challenges of the Ashtanga flow is the vinyasa. In this class David will break the vinyasa down into its components. He likes to refer to this as: “The Physics of Flight”. The class will also explore the elements of handstands and arm-balances.This will all be done through the avenue of partner work. There is always plenty of laughter and fun as well as a depth of information in this class. All levels may attend even if you have never done a handstand before. Alternatives are always given.”

oh, my… this was indeed a fun class. very user friendly. so much fun and excersize. notes below are just scribbles and tips for different exercizes. it was hard taking notes and trying to practice at the same time 😉 apologies if they are a bit disorganized.

before any other tips about asanas, david stresses: activate where necessary and relax where possible.

– handstand is usually defined as an inversion but a more accurate definition is handstand is every position where hands are the only points touching the floor. first such place we encounter in surya.

exercize:

  • swaying on your feet
  • swaying on your feet and folded with your hands on the floor
  • partner lift excersize: partner helps with lifting sit bones and legs just float back. when feet go back make sure your feet don’t go too far so the shoulders stay in its place (over wrists)

i have never done a handstand and shifting the weight from your feet into the hands is not the nicest of feelings. that’s why i understood when some people at the workshop said they could not do it because of the fear.

excersize:

from downward dog move forward (jump) with having your legs crossed and drop at the hands. once there, try and go with your feet crossed through your hands. reminder: have your legs crossed at shins not ankles and also flex your feet instead of having them pointy. the aim of the action is to create a half-pipe-snowboarding movement – going first down and then up. your gaze should be between your hands until your hips come down and then look forward.

jump back is much harder as there is no momentum to get our feet through, we are working against gravity. this is hard to start with and most people just think that their arms are too short. for this reason – and because you can’t grow your arms longer – you have to make the rest of you the smallest possible by curving your spine and bringing your legs crossed close to chest. the bum lifts just a minimum way up. the move should not be based only on strength but rather by creating the momentum with crossing your legs and bringing them into your chest to go back through. even if you can’t make it in one go, push through in few steps.

few notes on jump backs:

  • an excersize with the towel on smooth floor surface – if you put the length of a towel in front of your hands where your feet usually land, the towel should help you do the sliding motion through. once you manage this, you can remove the towel and have a go again.
  • switch legs every time you jump back
  • straighten the legs in the final part of the jump back with the momentum

it is always an option to just cross your legs and lift up as a vinyasa. and this is the hardest one as well. why? because we start judging ourselves and comparing ourselves to others. the questions start to come up: are we good enough, worthy enough, why can’t we jump through after years of practice etc…?

we have to understand that it is OK not to be able to jump through or jump back. david mentioned there are people in mysore doing advanced series without being able to do the jump through.

then he made us do another excersize. we got into downward dog and shouted: i am a good person, jump through does not make me a better person. this, of course, made everyone laugh…. 😉

we should be happy with our choices, with our body, with our practice. feel good about it cos then you will get back to it.. we don’t have to practice 6 days a week. we should practice as much as we see fit, what makes us happy. it is a little bit like eating – leave always a bit hungry.

david remarked a few times that not all people will be able to do all things and we should be happy with what we can do. i really liked his no pressure approach, and ashtanga is for everyone – you just need to do the adjustments. the benefits are not in how flexible you are but how focused and flowing your practice is.

last exercizes saw us doing handstands (as inversions) in groups of 4:

  • handstand with 1 person as a wall and two side helpers
  • handstand same position but with the wall person using their fist in between practitioner’s legs to lift them up without two side helpers
  • same position but practitioner hanging of the wall person swinging

that was a great stretch for the class ending specially because i got to be lifted by 3 boys 😉

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