April 2008


I’m definitely going in June – 4 days at the Bio2008 conference, then a week of holiday afterwards.

If anyone out there has any tips on places to stay and things to do and where to practice, let me know please! I will be stuck in the vicinity of the Convention Centre for the first 5 days, the rest of the time is my own to go where I please 😀

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Nothing particular going on here today, I am just enjoying being a bit lazy!! Sunday practice hasn’t happened, but at the moment when I seem to have 5 week days of 17 hour non-stop activity I feel sleeping is my priority at the weekend! Plus I have actually had a social life the last few weekends, so don’t really get to bed that early either!

I had intended to post on Friday as it marked my 1 year anniversary of practicing at AYL. If I could be bothered or had the time I would work out how many practices I have been to, and how many 5 day weeks I have attended. I think that latter is probably about 3 😉 I know that I have only been twice on a Sunday in the last year.

My anniversary practice was nothing exceptional, the shala was busy which is unusual for a Friday at 7.30, but one thing I have learned over the last year is that how busy the shala is on any given day is not something that can be predicted! I ended up getting quite frustrated with the back bending. I really, really, really want it to improve but by the end of my practice I feel tired, sweaty and don’t have a lot of time left, so it is the least ideal part of my practice to be struggling with something. The first backbend I can work with, but after that my spine hurts too much and it is just a matter of enduring 5 breaths in whatever degree of bend can be achieved. Patience….

I sat reading the Sunday papers with my knee bound into half lotus as suggested by Carl. It wasn’t uncomfortable but provided a nice stretch. The real stretch happens when I try and lie back keeping my half lotus on the floor – the entire of my hip/buttock seems to be locked. I now need to find a person (unlikely) or a heavy piece of furniture to place on my lap whilst I stretch backwards!!!

Anyway, I can’t work out how it has got to 6.30 pm and I haven’t done anything constructive, particularly as I have work to do. I am thinking of going for a quick evening stroll, then working in half an hour. The April showers seem to have temporarily subsided…

Another nice practice today, it was relatively quiet in the shala at 7.30 so got straight in and had some spaces to choose from! I went for the space by the window and radiator, I quite like only having a person on one side of me, although it isn’t ideal for any of the utthita hatas as the wall is in the way, and there is a bit of wall that juts out and tries to attack me when in Garbha Pindasana, but otherwise I like it!

Today I practised in my contact lenses, which is a rare treat. Being able to see what people are up to does distract me a little, but it has it’s advantages, not only are some of the other practitioners inspirational, but I also noticed today that when coming into updog, the lady in front really squeezed her shoulder blades together. I tried this and it does seem to cause a bit of chest opening, and probably does facilitate some external rotation of the shoulders. So maybe V’s suggestion can work after all, I was just trying to use the wrong muscles to achieve it. I managed once decent and one reasonable backbend and stuck them both out for 5 breaths, which is a good achievement for me.

Another little project for me is to try and get into lotus unassisted. At the moment my left hip is really stiff and I can’t bring my left leg anywhere close to being able to place it over the top of the other. I am sitting in half lotus at my desk again. My tendency is always to half lotus with my right, but by keeping on working on the left, hopefully that hip will loosen a little.

After Monday’s whinge fest, practice wasn’t too bad. The only down side to it was that I decided to go a little earlier as I am super busy at work, but then ended up waiting for 20 mins. tomorrow I don’t have rehearsal so can work late, so the time pressure is off… 7.30 start, I think!

Today I made a conscious effort to work on my back bend. The best technique seems to be to engage the abs as much as possible, which protects my lower back a bit, then try and push equally with arms and legs. The first back bend is OK, but the second and third are still poor as the first one leaves my lower back hurting. I’ll keep working on the abs….

It was interesting to read V’s post today as I had been discussing the progression to drop backs and ultimately second, with another shala mate on Monday. I have been doing full primary for 4 months. I started drop backs shortly after that, then ‘dropped’ them again a month ago when H came back. To be honest, I don’t feel like my back bend is good enough for drop backs at the moment. I think I can drop back unassisted, although haven’t tried recently, but I know I can’t stand up.

For now I am happy to plod through primary without dropbacks, but rather wish I could find a way to work on chest opening before the end of my practice…

I’m not in a good mood today. I have lots of work to do and had to forsake yoga in order to get to the office early. A mega early yoga practice wasn’t going to happen as I didn’t get home from rehearsal until 11pm last night.

Yesterday practice was messy and uncoordinated. It all feels like a lot of hard work and my spine is really giving me discomfort whether it be bending or twisting. Partly I want to push through it and keep going, but it might be a side effect of some medication I am taking, in which case it may be better to back off, or at least live with it. Backing off isn’t in my vocab though. I don’t like feeling defeated, which I do at the moment.

I did try outward rotation of the arms in my up-dogs yesterday, but the anatomy of my shoulders doesn’t seem to allow any rotation other than inward, and all my messing around with it only seemed to result in tensing up my lower back and crunching the sacral area instead.

More singing again tonight, but will hopefully make it to practice tomorrow.

It was moonday at AYL today. It didn’t seem to synch with my calendar, but what the heck, it’s nice to have a guilt free lie in! I went to a Friday Night open yoga class this evening instead. It was lovely and chilled out. The kind of class that I would have HATED before I found ashtanga and ‘my’ practice. Now I have established my yogic path yoga needn’t be about practicing until I sweat and fall into an exhausted heap, it can be enjoyed.

The teacher was gentle and focused in his approach, we did some Sivananda sun sals, then some ashtanga ones, then spent a while messing around with jump backs – or really float backs – as he tried to teach them. Just placing your hands, tipping forward so you just about lose your balance forwards, then gently float back. It’s an art form that I am yet to perfect, and was similar to the teachings of David Swenson in a jumping back / jumping through / handstand workshop I did a while back.

We then played with trikonasanas and some difficult balances. There were only about 8 people in the class and after the balances, he singled me out and said, and I paraphrase here ‘you are used to being strong in your practice, I am taking you outside your comfort zone. You want to achieve these postures, but they are hard. You must breathe and relax into them, sway a little, go to your edge, play with the fear of falling and keep breathing’. The funny thing is that he is absolutely right, and I find it interesting the way I am so easily read, even in a yoga class.

We did quite a lot of back bending too, which I must confess is a delight in the evening. In the morning it is very uncomfortable on my lower spine, but by really concentrating on what I was doing this evening, it was very clear to me that in the morning my chest and upper spine just do not open, all the bend is forced into my lower back and it hurts. I really need to work on chest opening during my practice, but with all of the forward bending in primary, it is difficult.

He then had us try another silly game where you try and turn around in a circle whilst in a back bend. It was SOOOO hard, I would step my right foot to the right, then my left foot to the right, then instead of taking my left hand left then my right hand left, which would make sense, I kept going the wrong way and bringing my hands and feel closer together. It’s difficult to describe in words, but try it if you want to feel your brain struggle with what feels like something that should be a simple task. It shows how reliant we are on our vision and seeing our hands and feet move where we want them to go!

I had an amusing moment when leaving the yoga studio, which is in quite a vibrant area of Soho. I was walking past a bar and it crossed my mind that I had been there on a date once, then just as I looked ahead of me, who was walking straight towards me, but the very guy who I had had the date with. Most bizarre.

I had a lovely meal afterwards with my yogi friend, then Green and Blacks chocolate and mint tea. Bliss. Life without alcohol isn’t so hard!

There is nobody here in the office with me today. I am sitting with 7 empty desks. Hopefully I will feel motivated to do something shortly. I have a conference call in about 5 hours time, at which point I will need to know lots of things about heart valves, so I really ought to start reading now!

I think I had a nice practice today, it felt quite light anyway, but that might have been related to either a) the fact that I didn’t practice yesterday or b) the ridiculously high temperature and humidity in the shala.

It was busy today, Thursday before moonday, but I didn’t have to wait. I am still finding it a bit weird being later into the shala. I much prefer travelling to yoga when it’s really desolate, especially in the spring time when it’s just getting light. Never mind. It is what it is.

At the moment my back is really not wanting to play at bending at all. I tried a back bending mantra this morning you are light and your back is bendy. It didn’t work. Now I am feeling really tight in my thoracic spine between my shoulder blades. I could really do with a massage too. I have one booked in a couple of weeks time, but one in the interim would be most welcome!

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