Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Take It Up" the Lotus (!)

Today, it feels like my body is starting to feel a little more like it belongs to me. All that holiday feasting has made me quite physically disconnected from er... myself, and practices have been a bit off. So it's nice to start feeling a bit more "normal" now.

I have been watching Sharath's Primary Series DVD. Yes, that's right. Just watching him. Not practising along with it. I think only a Yogadork would go pop on the Sharath DVD and study it. Study him.

Out of all the yoga DVDs I've got, if I could only save ONE from my collection (ie., out of all the David Swenson, Shiva Rae DVDs etc...), I would save this one. (Ask me again in a year's time, it might change).

(Photo credit here)

It's so no-frills and basic and he doesn't even explain anything at all while he's practising. It's even got the cheezy transitions like page-turns and cube-turns (which you're explicitly taught in film school NEVER to use! But it's cute in this basic-no-frills context so you forgive it)... All he does is count and call out the next posture ("Ekam, inhale. Dwe, exhale..." etc). And that's it. Nothing else. It's all shot in the same room too, at different angles. I like how at some points in profile shots, you can see the wall sockets. No attempt to hide it/ beautify it. It just is what it is.

(Photo credit here)

But for me, this works.

Maybe I'm going through a "cut out the bullshit" phase, maybe it's part of the new year "purge and destroy" phase, but it's nice to keep things brief and as they should be (haha, from my Bali posts, you'd never have guessed this, no?)

I like how Sharath isn't the most graceful practitioner. I think this is something Grimmly pointed out a while back too. He is extremely accomplished of course, but there's none of that flow and grace that for example, someone like Kino McGregor has... or even David Swenson has (even though he's tall and lanky and almost awkward, there's a grace about the way Swenson flows through the sequence).

With Sharath, it feels like he just gets on with it and that is all. It's to the point. And it's still so beautiful to watch. I think part of the draw is realizing that "Hey! I don't HAVE to be all flow and grace and it's still OK!"

DUH. Just... Do your practice.

Here's an excerpt from Youtube:

So the past couple days, I've been trying to "apply" some of the seated transitions he does. I like how he jumps through with bent knees (Like me! Yay! I don't need to fixate on straight-legs jumpthroughs!) (For now at least) And for most jumpbacks, he literally just does "take it up" and swings back (Like me! ...but I still cheat and push off with a foot though).

I've been trying to "take it up" in the half-lotus seated postures and swing back while still in half-lotus. Yesterday was dismal, my body had no idea what I was trying to make it do. My legs were splayed everywhere.

Today, however, it seemed to click a little bit more. I'm in no way close to it yet, but at least I'm "taking it up" in half lotus, and then slowly walking and hopping through the jumpback from there. Hey, you gotta start somewhere right. (I've been watching Grimmly's videos too. Some nice examples on his blog, but here's a link to one of his videos!)

I have also been trying (dismally) to jumpback from full lotus. The "take it up" is OK since this is pretty much the Uthpluthi asana. It's the swing back that's HARD!! In Maehle's Primary series book, there's a good series of profile photos after Kukkutasana of how you're supposed to get the tailbone swinging high in the sky in order to get the swingback from full lotus.

Found another good Youtube video of this. He makes it look so easy!

(Hey! I think this is Malaysian blogger, Crazy Cacat in the City!)

I end up having to balance on my knees, bring my arms forward, then clumsily disengage from lotus, one leg at a time before jumping back to Chaturanga. I keep telling myself "BANDHA! BANDHA! BANDHA!" in an attempt to lift myself higher to swing back. But it still feels like there are too many things going on in the transition that my body hasn't "got it" yet with the multi-tasking.

Funnily enough, for once this time, I have patience with it. I know it will happen, it's just a matter of time.

Practice and all is coming.


  1. Great post! I love these videos and just bought the Sharath primary series dvd and am excited to watch it.

    Have you seen anyone lift up to handstand from navasana?


    That is something I have a feeling i'll never be able to do...


  2. Thanks Christina! "Never say never!" Heh. Haven't you learnt by now? ;p I did the lift up to handstand from navasana - completely assisted of course - during teacher training and it's a rush of a feeling!

    Here's a BRILLIANT video of David Swenson busting out exactly that move during one of Guruji's world tours. If I were the girls on either side of him, I would've stopped practising and just watched him. I mean... STARED. (Or maybe I would've GLARED... and thought "Show off!") Hehe. It's around 00:49 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFE4-U_3bmk

  3. WHOA that is AWESOME!!!! Thank you!!!

  4. The YouTube links are great! What amazes me about the guy lifting into handstand is that is seems like momentum more than muscle- giving it a floaty look and not a grunty look. And what amazes me about Swenson is that he manages to pull off the handstand and remain on count.

    The link in the post is pretty awesome. He does make it look effortless. I cheat in full lotus and put my hands in front, balance my body on my arms (bent- like a little table) and then unfold into Chaturanga. Until forced to do otherwise, this is the way I'll be doing it!

    "my body had no idea what I was doing"- I hear that. It's weird, though, how so much of this works itself out by practicing every day. Sometimes I actually remember that and don't fret that I haven't learned X posture in a day (or a year). ha ha!!

  5. Ooh! Good cheat! Although I TRY to do that already and fail miserably... once I'm up balancing on my knees in lotus, I place hands in front of me, but it's still a big effort to uncross from lotus without getting stuck somewhere with legs splaying everywhere. Hrmph.

  6. Am tickled and honoured to see a video of me in your fabulous blog! That transition is still hit and miss - the practice does give a good lesson in non-attachment!

    Here's a much better example of a lotus jumpback - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbOj7-Ex6iE&feature=related .

    All the best wishes for your move to Cape Town and Happy 2010!

  7. How cool is it to have the guy in the video comment on your blog, Skippety??

    M_in_M- nice work! And thanks for that link. Govindakai is practically doing Urdva Kukkutasana B, so I'm not sure that's motivational for us peons. HA HA HA!!!

    One day, one day...

  8. M_in_M, you have a new blog! Nice Lotus JB.
    Thanks for linking to one of mine Skippity (always liked the angle and colours of that one). On the lotus jump back I find tilting the lotus up towards my chest before putting my hands down helps. Allows me to get a little momentum or energy going when I bring it backdown again and lift.
    I love David but was always irritated by that video, like come, on there's a time and a place, would imagine it would have been off putting to those around him. rather than stop and look , i think i would have given him a little shove then carried on with what i was doing with an innocent whistle.

  9. *waves to MinM* HELLO! Glad you found yourself on here. HAHAHA. Good things deserve to be shared. :)

    Yup Liz, that's pretty cool that he found himself here. Heh. ;p

    Grim - thanks for the tip... tried it out today and mentioned it in today's post too. Knees-to-chest definitely helps but I think my problem is the swingback part. My knees get stuck on the floor!!


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