I spent today’s practice thinking about how I was doing my asana. The focus of my attention was initiated by Susan’s discussion of Mari D, so having in mind that I was going to think about that when I got there I tried to focus on other areas of practice, particularly jumping back.

I started concentrating properly on jumping back when I was in San Diego, so that was about 2 months ago (wow, how did that time go by so fast?!). I still can’t jump back without catching my toes but I feel that I am getting better and it is getting easier. I find generally that jumping back gets easier towards the end of primary, which would seem a bit odd considering I would expect it to get harder as my arms get more tired. The two easiest jump backs for me are those after ubhaya padangusthasana and urdhva mukha pashimottanasana. I wondered if it was due to the respite from jumping back for a couple of minutes doing supta padangusthasana, but then decided that it is actually due to my hand placement. When I come out of these poses I have my hands quite far forward. So, I have been experimenting with hand placement and find that if my hands are about 6 inches forward to where they would be when my arms are vertical, I find it easiest. This way I can bring my weight forward onto my hands, contract the the bandhas and then lift off. I also adopt this hand placement for my optimum ultpluhthii as somehow the leaning forward motion assists the engagement of the bandhas and allows me to pick up.

I decided to do some research and see how other people were doing their jump backs so went to the revered source of you tube and searched for yoga jump back. This revealed a few clips, all of which did seem to have the yogi/ini place their hands forward, taking the arms to about 25 degrees from vertical. I had a quick look in David Swensen’s book, but his stills don’t really tell a very good story; in his first image he has his arms vertical and there isn’t a photo of him lifting off before jumping back. Gregor Mahler however, seems to have his hands slightly forward; his comment doesn’t mention hand placement but stresses the importance of the inhalation in inspiring the lift, and also the engagement of the bandhas. Anyway, enough of that!

Practice has been quite good over the last couple of days; I revisited my theory about yoga after dancing, but haven’t had the same stiffness in the hips, just slight tightness in the hip flexors. The shala is a nice temperature this week; warm enough to promote flexibility but not so hot as to leave me sweating profusely!

Somewhat surprisingly, I have started to enjoy backbending – who would have thought? Finally I seem to be moving the bend out of the lumber and into the thoracic spine and am not feeling the horrible pinch in the lower spine. I am still doing the same back bend warm up with a shoulderstand-bridge thing concentrating on really engaging the quads to get the lift. I hope this is promoting some strength in the quads and stretching the hip flexors. I am also managing to get slightly better hand placement when I come into full urdhva dhanurasana, but it’s a compromise. My hands are pointing forwards rather than inward, but I think they are further away from my feet, this compromise also minimises the aggravation to my right shoulder, which I think is a result of pushing up into back bend. Drop backs have been OK too! Outside practice my thoracic spine is feeling quite tender, although not painful.

Well, it’s now nearly 8.30 and I want an early night as I have been out late the last two nights dancing and I need more than 6 hours sleep. I have been grumpy all day due said lack of sleep!