So I announced that my two challenge poses for this quarter (January-February-March) would be bakasana (ie, crane pose) and urdhva prasarita eka padasana (ie, needle pose or standing split). Well it's been nearly two months and I must first confess that I have not practiced in nearly two weeks. I spent a week overseas visiting my husband, with a few days prior trying to get packed and the few days since trying to adjust to the new time zone. I'd really wanted to do some yoga while I was visiting, particularly after spending nearly nine hours in a cramped airline seat. But I didn't. The best I was able to do was to stretch out while waiting in the line for passport control and customs. I got some very strange looks.
But before all that, I was making very good progress in learning needle pose. Since I don't have a mirror at home, I can't be sure of how much my flexibility and range-of-movement has improved. But I can now hold the pose with only one hand on the floor and the other wrapped around the ankle of my supporting leg. Ideally, I'd like to have both hands around my ankle and my raised leg lifted as high as I can. So it's something I will continue to work on in my home practice.
Crane pose is proving to be a much bigger challenge, as I expected. I noticed a few weeks ago that I've developed some pain in my right wrist when my hand is flexed all the way back. I'm not sure if this is related to my yoga practice or the excessive time I spend on my laptop (like right now) or both. I mentioned it at my last acupuncture treatment and my doctor added a needle to help relieve some of the inflammation in those tendons and ligaments. It's helped quite a bit, but I think I'll bring it up again next time for another treatment. Once the wrist pain is gone (or at least significantly subsided), I'm going to work on increasing flexibility in both my wrists as well as strengthening them. This will be key to my work toward mastering crane pose. Without strong, flexible wrists I won't be able to resume working on crane. But I'm glad this weakness has been brought to my attention, because now I know what to work on.