Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yoga with Glenn Black - Day #2

I woke up very refreshed this morning.  And I wasn’t sore like I thought I would be, although my legs and hips did feel very ‘hard.’  It was like I was flexing my muscles but I wasn’t.  
Glenn, ever the contrarian, started class this morning with the Corpse pose.
After doing a few basic poses including Awkward Chair and what I think is his favorite, Bound Angle Pose, Glenn put a toy monkey in the middle of the room and turned it on.  This toy started to laugh and roll around like a little child on the floor.  We all laughed and Glenn then said he wanted us to do it.  It took some people more encouragement than others, but this was something I was a natural at. I rolled and laughed and it brought to mind the work I do with Nia Five Stages.  In fact, a lot of this work is bringing Nia to mind.
The problem with yoga is that it is static.  And in many cases movement is much more effective and getting deeper into the joints and tissue and at releasing stuck areas. He has us gyrating and dancing like we were in a Nia class.  I notice that the more experienced and serious yogis are having a hard time moving this way.  They tend to look around as if to make sure no one is watching, and they’ll wear an expression of embarrassed concern.  I also notice some of them only partially participating. 
But Glenn has such a confidence and such a history of knowing his work so well, that even the most hesitantly staunch yogi eventually gives into natural human movement. 
Revolved Triangle
We did a Revolved Triangle Pose.  But first we did it lying on our backs so that we could relax into it.  He almost wasn’t going to even have us stand on our feet, but he relented and when we stood up and were holding the pose, he came over to me and adjusted my back and then he touched my thigh and said, “give me some muscle. Don’t let this go slack.”  I hadn’t realized but I had found a way to do the Revolved Triangle Pose without using my quadriceps muscles in the forward leg. I was so conditioned to doing it this way that it took me a long time to figure out how to contract it in the contortion of the pose.  And once I did figure out how to contract it, I did so, and I fell over. 
So I have some work to do on my Revolved Triangle. 
As we worked more and more and deeper and deeper into Pigeon and Lunge and Squat, I struggled with this tightness I’ve had in my hips for as long as I can remember.  The more we stretch, though, the more gets released. Our benchmark is whether or not I can lay my legs flat on the floor in Bound Angle Pose, which I still can’t do.  But I was getting such good, deep stretches in my hips that I could feel that familiar shaking and emotion wave that feels like my body protesting the depth of the stretch. Intellectually, I know the position is sound, and it doesn’t feel harmful or dangerous.  But emotionally, that’s a different story.  Emotionally it feels very dangerous and it feels like we’re getting really close to something.  
Glenn Black surprised and delighted me when he started talking about Pavel. Pavel is someone who I have learned a lot from, and I had always sort of thought of him as my little secret.  Until today, I never met anyone who had ever heard of Pavel. It is from Pavel that I got the phrase, Naked Warrior, which I use to describe myself and my tendency to not need any weapons or armor (or as you might call them, exercise equipment and workout clothes).
But Glenn spoke of Pavel and his contribution to the fitness world, kettlebells.  And then the next thing you know, we’re all swinging kettlebells!  The last thing I was expecting in an advance yoga immersion, but here we are, all swinging kettlebells like Russian soldiers. I do lots of squats and lunges and have been dancing for over twenty years, but the basic kettlebell swing had my butt burning after just a few minutes. 

Glenn impressed me at one point when he said, "Those of you who are breathing through your mouths are pathetic!"  He has a dark sense of humor. But it went right along with my latest new discovery about the power of nose breathing
I might have to start exploring this in more depth.  Who knows, it may be the next avenue I wander down in my life. 
After our morning session, I had a scheduled Body Tuning session with a practitioner named Matt. It was so nice to have my body tuned.  He did some techniques on me that I’m going to have to remember for using on my clients. I appreciate so much when a body worker doesn’t have a routine. I can tell the difference between someone following a sequence and someone who’s working on the reality of my body.  This is truly something that sets Body Tuning apart from other modalities. 
After my session, was lunch.  A remarkable thing happened at lunch as I was crunching on my cole slaw. I tasted something oddly familiar.  At first I couldn’t place it, but then I realized it was onion!  I thought, “No, that’s impossible, because I’m not gagging.” I’ve had a violent reaction to eating raw onions my whole life. But then I took a bit with two very large pieces of what I thought were red cabbage, but no.  That unmistakeable  flavor of onion permeated my mouth, but to my surprise, the gagging didn’t.  I was able to eat them, and even swallow them. But once I realized what I was doing, I chose not to. Old habits die hard, I guess. 
I’ve noticed that ever since I started concentration on being aware of always breathing through my nose, one of the many transformations I made was that I became less intolerant of garlic and onions. This is huge for me.  And really strange because in many aspects of life, I’ve become MORE sensitive. I am able to smell energy, for example. And I notice myself being much more calm and compassionate and actually needing less food and drinking less coffee. 
But anyway, I had an hour after lunch before our afternoon session began, so I went back up to my room and chilled out.  As I was chilling I noticed an awful taste forming in my mouth. Ah yes.  Now I remember one of the reasons I didn’t like eating onions. 
The afternoon session began with Body Tuning. I was glad since I was still kind of full from lunch and still kind of beat up from the morning’s session.
We did a lot more work on opening up those hips and started in this afternoon on the shoulders.  We did a few exercises to prepare our shoulders for Upward Facing Bow Pose, which is really hard for my shoulder ever since the injury.  And, to be honest, if I had known how to do the pose correctly, like I do now, it would probably have been something I wouldn’t do because my shoulders aren’t ready to support it.  Not because they’re weak, but because they’re so strong in a certain position, that they won’t rotate in they way they need to to assume this position correctly and safely.
After the session I walked to the lake and meditated for about 45 minutes until dinner.
The food here is really good.  All vegetarian, but still enough variety and flavor to satisfy meat-eaters, too.  This evening I got my protein from mole tempeh and olive humus. Tonight they had dessert, which they don’t usually have.  I don’t know what the occasion was, but I grabbed two.  They were some sort of vegan, natural-ingredient peanut butter cups that were pretty good, and then some imitation chocolate caramel that sort of missed the mark. 
Going to bed early tonight. All of this hip opening is really wearing me out.

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