photography by Coni Horler
I recently had the privilege of practicing with Laruga Glaser for 2 weeks. What an inspiration! I attended all of her afternoon workshops on the Intermediate Series, and took copious notes.
One workshop focused on leg-behind-the-head postures from Intermediate, both Eka Pada and Dwi Pada Sirsasana. The good news is, Laruga swears that with enough practice and preparation via drills like the ones I demonstrate in this video, pretty much EVERYONE can find the hip opening needed for these challenging postures. She didn’t say anything to the effect that some people will never be able to get their leg behind their neck due to physiological differences in the hip joint and angle/length of the neck of the femur….rather, according to her, with time and patience and drills like these, we can all not only do these postures, but maybe even come to enjoy them!
I hope you like the video! And let me know how it goes…
Here’s a quick but logical progression from the very basic hip-opening posture called Agni Stambasana (or as my teacher John Scott somewhat jokingly calls it, Agony Stambasana), through to the more advanced Eka Pada Sirsasana. Please please don’t try to put your foot behind your head unless you’ve been taught how to do so by a qualified teacher, hopefully mid-practice, in the context of an ongoing Ashtanga practice. Just use these cues to work where it’s comfortable and beneficial for you. I hope some of the tips on Eka Pada can come in handy when you’re nice and warm and approaching the posture in the sequence of your daily practice.
And here’s the progression to Eka Pada Sirsasana:
I’ve been in India for 2 full months now, and things are fine. Since arriving this season at Purple Valley, I’ve had the great good fortune to practice with John Scott, Sharmila Desai, Dena Kingsberg, Ty Landrum, and now Mark Robberds, all of whom I’ve practiced with many times before, over the course of the past 9 years since I started coming here.
Ashtanga at PV is amazing for so many reasons. The teachers of course, but also the beautiful dedicated shala, the ease of getting there (it’s just a short walk through a moonlit garden) and the simplicity of life at the retreat that supports a vigorous asana schedule. Thus, after fully 5 years of working on the complete 3rd series, I’ve begun (under the guidance of Ty and Mark so far) adding on the first 3 postures of the 4th series. I remember asking Petri once how many people he thought there were in the world practicing all of fourth and being shocked at his reply of “Probably about 200.” There’s a reason it’s such a small number!
I have no hopes or real desire to ever get to the end of the series. I don’t ever want to do that one pose where you stand on your head and walk around your own body! Never say never, but it would require some major effort, as well as some physiological changes that I’m not sure could or should ever happen. Meanwhile, although I assumed it would be no big deal, adding on these 3 postures (Mula Bandhasana, Nahushasana, Vrschikasana) has been kind of huge for me. I’ve only even tried them a few times over the course of a week or so, and already I feel tectonic shifts happening in my body, psyche, and life off the mat. The changes are all for the better, but I feel these deep, subterranean currents rearranging pretty much everything now.
For one, I feel compelled to take the practice and myself more seriously. That may sound absurd to those people who see me and think I’m already outrageously disciplined; I can tell you, I have not been. But now I am becoming more focused and determined. As I approach my 45th Birthday next week, it is clearer than ever that it’s time to get serious not just about practice but about other aspects of my life which are connected to it. Proper diet (more protein, less sugar, hitting those macros like it’s my religion), hydration, and rest not least, but also teaching, training, and career advancements in those domains. It all weaves together. Now it is time to thrive, and to soar!
I’ll be blogging more about what’s in the works with me, including about my upcoming series of instructional videos, as well as progress and thoughts on training, diet. and physique. I’ve got a lot to say about the inner dimensions of Yoga as well, and the more esoteric aspects, so please subscribe if these things interest you.
Namaste from Goa, India!