Not feeling so heroic in Supta Virasana

I recently purchased a snazzy new bike.  Okay, snazzy is pushing it but it’s purple and has red wheels.  The purple reminds me of the (now defunct) Welch’s grape soda can.  Welch’s grape soda was really the only saving grace in the steamy Texas summer, in the 1980’s.  I HATED tennis lessons.  I really only took them because my older brother did.  He was good.  I was not.  I was more interested in gymnastics, my skip-it and in challenging my hula hoop to stay above my knees while twirling and the like.  The reason I kept going to tennis lessons: Welch’s grape soda.  This was my post-tennis treat and I enjoyed the hell out of it!

I bought this bike to replace my OLD, HEAVY pile of steel (1970’s 10 speed Schwinn.)  Oooof.  I tend not to attach too strongly to material goods, but the thought of letting go of my Schwinn made me fight back tears. I felt as though I was walking around with a 10 pound dumbbell adhered to my chest.  This clearly gave me pause.  Fortunately, I have enough people around me to check my attitude when I am blindly and strongly spewing funk.  When I stopped long enough to look inward, I realized that the feelings I was having with letting go of my Schwinn, mirrored the feelings that I’m having in another part of my life.   

My Schwinn represented the heaviness of the past, memories and stagnation.  Holding on to it felt safe.  My new bike is lighter, more colorful, swifter.  It feels like freedom.  With freedom, comes the unknown and the unknown can be scary.  When I recognized the parallels between my bike situation and the other situation I referred to, I no longer felt attached.  Up on Craigslist the Schwinn went.  


I bought the new bike in order to ease my commute to work.  I was certain(ish) that this bike was lighter.  To make sure, my girlfriend stood on my bathroom scale to get her poundage sans bicycle.  She then lifted my (almost!) 40 pound Schwinn and got back on the scale.  She’s a strong girl!  She did the same with my new bike.  At 7 pounds lighter, I felt confident that my purchase was worth the emotional flux.  I suppose the emotional flux was worth it, in and of itself.  Sometimes it takes an external event to realize what’s going on inside.

All of that to say, I biked to work today and after biking a total of 18 miles today, my quads needed some love.  I decided that Supta Virasana (reclining hero pose) was the way to go.  Supta virasana requires the body to be warm.  Please do not practice the below mini sequence without a proper warm up.  Watch out if you have knee pain, stiff ankles, extremely tight quadriceps or lower back pain.  All yoga should be practiced with caution.  Respect your body.  New bodies are hard to come by.

In Supta Virasana…

Psychological response
Thoughts:  THIS. SUCKS. GET. ME. OUT.
Emotions:  When I think of supta virasana, I think of my quadriceps.  I hadn’t considered that it’s also a major heart opener.  With so much transition happening in my life right now, stretching the front line of my body felt incredibly overwhelming.  
other psychological reactions (imagery, narrative, etc.):  Supta virasana reminds me of my gymnastics days.  My coach used to caution against sitting on our knees.  He said that he tore his knee doing this.  For years, I didn’t dare sit on my knees and still refrain from doing it, unless it’s with extreme caution and for a specific reason. 
Physical response
Felt open:  quads, knees, hip flexors, front body, chest, throat
Felt strengthened: low back
other physical sensations: I felt waves of movement in my front body.  I felt like a human pin ball machine.  It probably didn’t help that I had recently had dinner.  I don’t usually eat before I practice but tonight I did.  I was hungry after that ride! 
Mini Sequence (to move into and out of this posture)
1. seated pranayama in supported virasana (hero pose)  (block under sit bones)
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog)
3. Uttanasana (forward fold)
4. Arda uttanasana (half way lift)
5. kick back to Anjaneyasana (crescent lunge) on right with chest expansion
6. release fingertips to the mat and come into high lunge.  Dynamic straightening and bending of the front leg.
7. Uttanasana (forward fold)
8. Arda uttanasana (half way lift)
9. kick back to Anjaneyasana (crescent lunge) on left with chest expansion
10. release fingertips to the mat and come into high lunge.  Dynamic straightening and bending of the front leg.
11. Uttanasana (forward fold)
12. Arda uttanasana (half way lift)
13. plank– gently lower down onto belly
14. Bhujangasana (cobra)

15. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge)

16. Ustrasana (camel)
17. Supta Virasana (reclining hero pose)
18. Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose)
19. seated meditation

“Next to a leisurely walk I enjoy a spin on my tandem bicycle. It is splendid to feel the wind blowing in my face and the springy motion of my iron steed. The rapid rush through the air gives me a delicious sense of strength and buoyancy, and the exercise makes my pulse dance and my heart sing.”  -Helen Keller


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