Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hello Pasasana, Nice to Meet You!

I was given the long-awaited Pasasana today. The first pose of the Intermediate Series in Ashtanga Yoga.

(Photo Credit here)

So now, I officially declare all of you ashtangis practising the Advanced Series (in the shala, at home, as part of Ashtanga or Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama™... ie. Advanced Series in whatever shape or form) the new cool kids in town.

I had to plod through the ENTIRE full primary series and get to the end before I got this. Well of course! What was I thinking, that I'd start off the practice by going straight into Pasasana?!

Oh boy. Ashtanga is HARD. And it doesn't get magically easier when you move along. I was so deluding myself by thinking the heavens would open and rain down angels to make my life easier!

Halfway through Primary today, I caught myself thinking... OMG. I have an ENTIRE new series to learn. FAAAAAAARK. What have I got myself into now?! It just seemed... very DAUNTING. As Mel so eloquently put it the other day, I get to do all the "weird s**t" now! Well, not NOW-NOW or in the forseeable future... but at some point I'll get to do that WEIRD SHIT. Er... Yay.

But first... I am working on my one measly new pose right at the end of Setu Bandhasana.

Being Asian, well, specifically CHINESE... it's easy for me to get my heels flat on the floor. Hey, my ancestors were all coolies who squatted to do everything (yes, EVERYTHING)... so the ability to do a full squat with heels on the ground is in my genes. (In fact, I've even seen the modern equivalent back home in Singapore squatting with heels flat on top of a bus stop bench. He could have SAT DOWN on the bench like a normal person, but no. He had to squat on top of it. Yes, he looked like he was perched like a bird. It was so... uncivilized. And ridiculously funny at the same time.)

(Photo Credit here. See Exhibit A above on camera-left. WHY is the dude squatting?! ...Because he can. Nyah nyah!)

But still... as easily as squatting comes for me... squatting with heels flat WHILE doing a twist AND bind... that kinda messes with your head a bit. It's balance and for me at least, quite a bit of core to prevent yourself from rolling backwards.

Good thing Teacher was there to anchor me at the back, and I got a pretty good, deep twist on the first side (the left side). So deep that I surprised myself by being able to catch my wrist on the first try! And MY GOODNESS! With Teacher there to assist and keep twisting me further with each exhale, I could see everything happening behind me and to the right! (See how the chick in the top picture is twisting to her left? Imagine her twisting more so she could see even more behind her to the right. That's what it felt like.)

It felt open and expansive, and it felt good. :)

On the other side, it didn't feel as open and deep. I'm not sure if I caught my wrist on this side as well, I think I did, but I was busy concentrating on getting that twist coz it felt more like a struggle on this side, and I couldn't quite twist as far back.

It's kinda weird coz in Marichyasana D, this twist to the right is usually my easier/ more open side but somehow I wasn't able to find it in Pasasana on this side.

At the end of it, I said "Backbends?" and Teacher nodded. So that's as far as I got today. HAHAHA.

At the end of class when I waved goodbye to her, she nodded and winked at me and said something along the lines of "it comes easily for you..." or something like that. I'm not sure what she said but I HOPE that's what it was. Hehe.

So there you go. That's IT. Nothing as life-changing as I'd imagined it to be. It just feels like a slightly longer Primary session. Er... because it is, at the moment.

And life keeps going.


  1. Hurray for your first Intermediate pose! Your description of the Singaporean squatter made me laugh - it really is in our genes innit?? ;)

  2. Thanks! And haha, yeah he was your typical AH BENG Samseng. Y'know, with golden monkey hair with the orange comb-tail sticking out of his back-pocket? I'm pretty sure it's in our genes. In the context of a yoga class (where squatting is NOT uncivilized)... it's almost always the Asians who have no problems with squats AND getting our heels flat too. I find it a very funny observation.

  3. I'm a squatter too... but not because I'm Chinese, but because I spent my childhood on the floor making stuff! Who knew it would come in handy one day?

    Congrats on your new pose and your success in it. Despite my squatting skills, that posture was a bitch for me. The teacher who taught it to me (a very small man) had to literally wrap his body around mine to hold me in it.

    It takes a terrific amount of core strength, but that's good- gets you going for what's ahead!

  4. congrats - it is a funny one, isn't it? I can't squat, so I have that extra balance element in there when i practise at home - I miss that adjustment!

    My daughter can squat, but my sons can't, and I'm yet to get a straight answer on whether it's ever possible to learn it. There are a lot of differing opinions on whether or not the achilles tendons can be stretched enough to accommodate the heels down if it doesn't come naturally, but there;s more to it than that anyway. I haven't figured it out yet.


  5. That's the thing! It's not just as easy as a simple squat coz you've got the twist and bind going on at the same time too! If Teacher hadn't been behind me to support me, I would've definitely rolled over as well (even with all the squatting genes on my side).

    Lizzie, good to know that it's a strong core thing coz that surprised me quite a bit how much core I needed to counteract the balance. I thought I was getting it all "wrong".

  6. Cool to get the bind on the first try! I still struggle like crazy with this pose. I have to engage the thighs to get the grip, and once I have that the teacher goes 'relax and let your butt come towards the floor', but then the balance is all off againg and if I really let go I'll tip over backwards. Oh, and I can only get a controlled grip on one side and on either side only one foot is actually flat on the floor. It's THE pose I always get assisted in, haha.

    Second series is fun though, allbeit a bit exhausting until you get to the LBH-poses and get to split the practice. Enjoy the journey! :-D

  7. Another Singaporean squatter here, well born there anyway, as I write this I notice that Singapore is your second biggest visiter after USA. 800 visits from Singapore, who knew it's an Ashtanga heartland.

    Good luck with your Pasasana

  8. Hi Skippetty,

    thought I would come and re-find your blog again after Mel talked about it with me last Sunday.

    Congrats on Pasasana, that is still a distant dream for me, until I work out how to stand up from UD.

    I hope Singapore is ashtanga land as I will be there for Xmas, I want to practice.

  9. Hey Gledespiken, yeah... there's a heckuva lot going on in the pose. My brain feels like it's about to explode when I get to it. :)

    Grim/ Globie: I think a lot of them might be my friends/ family... although I'd have thought all this ashtanga talk would've scared them all away! There is a pretty big yoga scene in Singapore. Globie, I put the links to 2 of my favourite teachers back home on your blog too, but here they are again...

    James is the only authourized teacher in S'pore and is ex-US national gymnastics coach. He is tough but has a great sense of humour. The only yoga teacher I know who has quoted Mr. T in class. Seriously - this chick was whining & moaning about a pose and James said (in that Mr. T voice too) "Stop wit dat jibber-jabber, FOO!" http://www.theyogashala.com.sg/

    Denise is no longer with a studio but rents a space from one of the local studios. Her adjustments are gloriously strong yet gentle at the same time, very intuitive. Dunno if this link is anything to go by, let me know if you'd like her email address I can send to you privately. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6673706021&v=app_2373072738#/topic.php?uid=6673706021&topic=4476

    Separately, I've heard great things about Celeste at Pure Yoga although I've never been to any of her classes before (when I was with Pure, I was more of a Power junkie then). They are expensive though. http://www.pure-yoga.com/en/hongkong/schedules/view_schedule.php?location_id=6&week=this


  10. Hi Skippetty,

    I tried James's Shala but they are closing for the holidays, though they mentioned they may run an unofficial self practice some mornings.

    I did eventually get a message to Pure, as a few people have told me about Celeste, though it is expensive, its looking like the best option as it seems to be just a few stops on the MRT from where I am staying

  11. hi Skippety
    every time i use a squat toilet, i seem to write a journal entry about the experience. good thing i'm resorting to not writing about it in the blog, since it might not appeal to everyone, even out of sympathy. but i laugh about the experience when i read back on it.
    i will write at some point about my pet peeve on squat toilets with partitions at waist high. considering the effort to use, does one have to suffer the indignity of having someone to view the drama? (i might cut and paste this for late use. haha.)

  12. Hey Kevin, what's your email addy? I'll send you Denise's email address and you can ask her about her schedule/ studio location as well. Email me at skippetty@gmail.com.

    And Arturo... AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA! Thanks for making me laugh the hardest I have in a long while. But I can totally imagine you and the waist-high wall. Actually, I have been in a loo before where it's the other way around - the bottom of the door was so high that it was pointless even having a door, coz when you squatted down (even with the sunken loo raised on a platform), you could still see people outside from under the door. It was totally pointless and I just couldn't do it. Like... WHY?!?

    Oh, the stories of China's toilets. *cold shiver*


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