Soft 2 Be Strong and The Ultracool Yogi
Sunday, September 26, 2010
I took a yoga class yesterday with The Ultracool Yogi, who is known on the Internet (this is not his real screen name ... but IMHO, it is more accurate). He delivers a contemplative, mostly non-flow hatha class that moves your body in three dimensions .. with exquisite pinpoint precision thankfully just this side of full-blown Iyengar. Almost the opposite of The Master Teacher at my former studio, whose main method is, "I'll teach you how to do this, now just watch ..." and the hands-on, Ma-actually-wanted-me-to-study
-to-be-a chiropractor school of rough, intrusive adjustments ...
In class, I was holding Salamba Sarvangasana variation II while the rest of the small class was still trying to negotiate plough pose. He called out to me, "Tina, that's shoulderstand." Implying I should back out of it directly, in order to join the class in plough pose -- that variation of shoulder stand has the same arm position as plough. I complied. This is the third class out of nine (not-too-frequently taken ... due to my tight budget mostly--'cause I STILL can't get to the pool) at the Tree of Life that I at times made much tougher for myself, while trying not to skew the class' energy. Some of which was formidable. This guy attracts a good proportion of YOUNG people to his mellow, so untrendy it's due to cycle back into fashion, class. The untrendiness on a par with that of Integral Yoga Institute ...
Now, a day later, it's back to my home practice again. I was feeling strong in my practice after having resequenced it twice. My life's new soundtrack, David and Steve Gordon's Yoga Moods CD - particularly the track, Les Eaux Verts by Jens Gad Presents, was a real bear to resequence to ...
I sure am not the type to fashion a vision collage of Dharma Mittra's famous 608 yoga pose poster
or book ... getting my inspiration from music is the least of it. My practice had been spawned well over 3 years ago in my head from memory of what I surfed on the web, my "yoga studio" being the stretching areas of New York Sports Club - and it remains somewhat true to its original non-elitist, non-lineage roots, while still very much being yoga asana, chanting and pranayam.
Mostly because of an unforgivingly short class pack expiration date that I tried to attenuate with attendance surrounding a short staycation ... I sought for an inspiring teacher at Tree of Life. And now, I know The Ultracool Yogi teaches elsewhere ... and a tougher class ... BUT geographically inconvenient to me.
So, I can't lay things on the line with him. It's not in the cards for The Ultracool Yogi to get me into a fuller expression of bound headstand. Yes (and Jonathan [Urla] would have been proud), I did it for a third time by myself. My "school of yoga", AMPHIBI-YOGINI's Soft 2 Be Strong slow flow ... needs to be informed by this The Ultracool Yogi and his recognized lineage ...
My core and base of neck/top of shoulder muscles (still aching now ... hours later) had felt unusually tight and strong at the start of my practice. The Ultracool Yogi's exquisite handiwork (with my tweakings) were responsible this time. [Of course, additionally, I give Spark People - and its Community Team credit for a good chunk of my state of mind, now as before.]
This leads me to believe that the arm muscles and the neck muscles ... are the "caffeine" of headstand ... only a quick fix. They should be strong, of course, but in many cases and particularly if a person is built like me; with disproportionately long legs, wide hips, and short torso, the core muscles have to be exceptionally well-developed for functional strength. Which is not the same as having a six-pack -- a product of both isotonic sculpting and low
bodyfat %age. These are some very long lever-arms in the length of those legs that have to fight
gravitational forces in order to rise. In physics, Work = Force times Distance ... long lever arms being a long Distance. And this kind of Work requires strength.
As a lapsed swimmer, however, I still respect and am in awe of buoyancy rather than gravity.
But gravity should NEVER, EVER be underestimated.
Of course, I'd had to (but mindfully) swing the one leg up, that hinged to my far tighter of the two
hips, but the fairly slow way I swung up enabled me to catch that sweet spot, the balance point.
My legs/feet never even came close to the corner walls I had been facing when I'd gotten into
position (and I did not forget about those walls, despite the many exhortations of yoga teachers in
I held the pose for a second, and then came down with control ... to my doubled-up mat.
I hope I could, one day, make it over to the Ultracool Yogi's tougher class ... perhaps during
Note to Community Team: Weigh in at 142.4. Gain of 1.6 pounds. About 4 pounds short of (new) goal weight. And thank you for the progress in my yoga practice, both on and off the mat. What more can I say?