Pirates of the Air • 23 August 2007

If you’re going to be exacting, be exacting about the breath.

Fourth day of Mysore with Petri the Pirate. He doesn’t teach to poses so much as to the breath—although he finally busted my cheating supta urdvha pada today, for the split second I drop the toe as I roll past the elbow (locking my eyes, whispering “You have to DECIDE! The toe is YOURS. Decide every day. You WILL NOT DROP IT”), and when I took my own ankles in a backbend, “Tomorrow you do yourself, without me holding.” Here’s to the power of suggestion. Phhhhhhhhhhhht. But anyway, most of what we’re doing is exacting my vinyasas. Basically, this involves adding an extra exhale in a few places, and attempting to inhale-UP! out of most postures.

In theory, the extra breaths should make practice easier, but as it is, knowing he’s listening far more than watching, I’ve placed my attention even more on the breath than usual this week. I love practicing this way, and with this kind of awareness from a teacher. But somehow in this process I’ve lost a sliver of inhale, shortened it to match the exhale (whereas usually I’m a hair long on the inhale), so over the course of a 140-minute practice I slowly edge into the red. Some inhale-retention might be due later.

Half an hour after rolling out of rest, and my wrists are still atremble on the banks of my keyboard. Breath superslow, deep and greedy.

I have consumed an unbelievable 64 oz of water in the past 40 minutes (how is this even possible?), and am finally, as a result, feeling grounded. In savasana I practiced a bit of yoga nidra where the body becomes heavy, drawn into the ground like a block of lead, and then becomes light, weightless, air. Hearing Jasmine Riddle, from a secret hippie-magick cassette I found in the obscurest of university archives (and is now, eyebrow-raisingly, a regular line on my far-from-private library record) as she warps soundwaves with her warbling chant of “heavy heavy, light light.”

What’s with that about conquering gravity in the third series? I’m a long long way from such things, measuring by my urdvha kukkutasanas, but today there is such an spacey lightness that I’m not going to get a whit done until I refind the earth. Matthew Sweeney noted in a podcast recently that astangis tend to overemphasize lightness, I suppose to the point that we of the subculture becomes rootless and unsteady.

I just downed another 10 oz of lemonwater.

I think I’ll read a stack of book reviews before I try to do anything semi-important with my brain this morning. Tomorrow, primary series, close to the ground and counterbalanced with great inhalations.

That’s enough vinyasa talk for this owl.