May 2010


Wow, it’s been a hectic couple of weeks. highlights include cancelled holiday flights, far too much work to do, a learner crashing into the side of our car, going to a wedding and the occasional yoga practice.

Despite the other stresses in my life, practice has been good, even if not regular enough. The best part is that baddha konasana with lots of mula bandha works well and isn’t causing any pain at all!!! So after 3 years of pain, all is good. Before I was relaxing my hips to try and facilitate the forward bend, but it turns out that engaging everything helps much better! I am very pleased about this, and now feel happy about doing full primary again.

Tonight I finally leave for my holidays, my first yoga holiday in 18 months so this is very exciting. I should be there already but striking BA cancelled my flight to Cairo yesterday and the best alternative is a flight to Sharm el Sheikh late tonight. It cuts a day and a half off my trip, but it’s better than nothing at all. I have no idea if my flight home will be running as the next batch of cancellations won’t be confirmed until Tuesday. I am sure I will get back somehow.

So for now, I head off into the sunshine with the prospect of lots of nice slow practices sunshine and the beach ahead of me 😀

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I had a really, really hectic day yesterday, running around from one place to another from 6am until 10pm, although I did go to yoga, go to work, go to Barbican for rehearsal, back to work again, back to Barbican for a concert then home, which involved a lot of walking!

I then woke up an hour before my alarm this morning, despite having felt that I needed about 10 hours sleep when I went to bed and didn’t go back to sleep… by the time it was time to get up for practice, I felt stiff and unmotivated.

I should know by now that feeling stiff and unmotivated often results in the best practices, so I am very glad I made the effort to get on the mat. It’s funny how I felt like I would be stiff an sore, but actually I wasn’t at all. Must be that state of mind rather than state of body thing!

I’ve continued with Garbha P and baddha K this week and have discussed the baddha K issues with H again. This morning I did a sort of twisted janu A (almost parigasana?) to try and stretch my left QL before starting, then had H give me a very gentle adjustment. We then discussed how it doesn’t really hurt to go down, just to come up. Whilst practising some adjustments to see what helps, I surprised myself by how easily I can get my torso down without it actually hurting. I suspect the anticipation of it hurting makes me tense up, which makes it hurt. Anyway, today, pressure on the sacrum and really engaging the bandas seemed to work. Perhaps the stretch at the beginning helped too. Its something I can work with, which makes me happy and optimistic.

Putting on the extra postures has helped with backbends too. I have never really found it comfortable to go directly from Supta K into backbends, it’s just too much stress on my lower back. So, this week I have been forcing myself to do two long backbends (previously I would wuss out after one). A little like Baddha K, the backbending doesn’t feel too bad whilst I am doing it, but once I come out of the first, the muscles in my lower back seem to spasm. Anyway, forcing myself to do a second back bend doesn’t seem to make it anyway worse, so I’m going to keep at it.

I’ve also had a couple of very productive days at work, getting some nasty bits sorted out, which, along with the sunshine on my desk, feels good. Now we just need warmth to go with the sunshine….

Oh and moonday tomorrow 😀

The shala was almost empty this morning, the aftermath of a night of people watching votes being counted? Who knows… it was good for me as I there was plenty of room for my flailing around and lots of adjustments 😀

Unfortunately, it was one of the pensioner type practices where I felt as stiff as a board; neither strong nor flexible. I’ve started getting twinges from the sacrum, just after one little baddha konasana. The old familiar nervy sensations when coming out of prasarita padatonasnana, doing the janus and jumping out of bhuja pidasana.

I contemplated just practicing to garbha pindasana, but decided that that would never get me past the baddha K issues, so went for it anyway. I had a gentle adjust and didn’t really get my head anywhere near the floor. It’s a start anyway. I just need to get my head around not wanting to have everything back at once! Typically though, I have been trying to analyse why I seem so incapable of doing baddha K? Where is the flexibility supposed to be coming from anyway and what can I do to improve it without actually doing Baddha K? I’ll go and grab Gregor Maehle’s book in a moment, I dug it out yesterday but went to sleep before actually reading it!

A nice practice today – which was good as I didn’t manage to get up yesterday. It seems that the blackout blinds that we finally put up over the bank holiday weekend made it dark enough to sleep through my alarm. So, in my determination not to sleep in again today, I woke at 5,which is far to early, then couldn’t get back to sleep.

The shala was busy, it seems that everyone who was away over Easter has returned; nice for the energy but not so good for space and general peacefulness.

I had a practice first today, which was nice. I went into prasarita padatonasana C, and found my head on the floor. Usually A and D are head down, whereas B and C I’m just off. Maybe I’ll be able to get my hands to the floor too at some point … hahahahah NOT. Hands to floor is not a problem with adjustment, but I feel its a long way off without.

As it turns out, H wasn’t at the shala, it was D instead, so no opportunity to discuss progressing past supta K. Once I got to it, I got a full adustment, hands and ankles bound, so decided to keep going. No problems with Garbha P, then on to baddha Konasana. I had a gentle assist, which was good, and got my head down without any discomfort. I did have some slight pain coming back up (this has always been the problem) but nothing serious. I decided to stop there anyway, partly because it seemed like a good stopping point and partly as I was having a bit of a brain fart about what pose came next…. it’s been 6 months, so I fell I have an excuse 😉

During the day I have felt like there has been some shift in the sacrum and I feel a bit tender, but hopefully this will wear off over night. Mild discomfort I can deal with, but if it becomes cumulative after a few more days and becomes painful, I might just stop at Garbha P for a while…. hmm…

So, after 6 months; I *think* my practice is probably where it was when I took a two month break back in November.

After a couple of months of practicing 2 to 3 days a week, I am now up to a 4 day a week practice and my shoulder seems to be holding up ok. Practicing with an injury is probably good for you in terms of awareness, even if it is a total pain in the butt.

Other than the dreaded back bending, I think I am as strong, if not stronger than I was six months ago. I have been practicing up to Supta K for two months now, which, until last week I was doing without having my ankles crossed. But last week, it was nice and warm in the shala, I was obviously looking more flexible and H crossed my ankles without difficulty. He has done this for the rest of the week, so I suppose I can ‘do’ it again.

This leaves me with the dilemma, or whatever it is, about how/when to add the rest of primary back on. I don’t really see any reason now that I can’t just plough on through right to the end. I can’t foresee any problems doing the rest of the series, for me Supta K was always the summit, and its a downhill journey to backbends.

I do have some concerns about putting baddha konasana back in, as it was a b*stard for giving me sciatic pain in the past. Maybe not, this time around?

At the moment I am doing one ‘gym’ yoga class a week, on a Sunday. Although I was skeptical the after the first class, I am now really enjoying it. The class is an hour and a half long, slow but very strength based. We concentrate a lot on alignment; which I think also does me good. Being a gym studio, there is also the issue of practicing with mirrors….. It makes for a very different practice for me. My ashtanga practice is very ‘inward’ as I don’t wear contacts in the morning, and can’t seem more than about 10 cm from my face. I don’t get distracted by anyone else as I can’t see them properly anway. So, mirrors is fascinating, to spy on myself! It has been interesting to see how ‘off’ some of my postures can be. What feels right in my morning practice look a bit askew in reality! One thing that surprised me is how bendy my lower back looks, trikonasana and virabhidrasana are particularly bad; I really need to work on the bandhas and straightening my lumbar spine. If only the rest of my back would bend so nicely!

Right, this post is digressing into a total brain dump! Back bending. This still isn’t great. My lumbar is quite tight and doesn’t appear to be happy doing more than one back bend. I need to open my chest, but this doesn’t seem to happen when I push up, I just jam the lumbar more. I am totally paranoid about doing drop backs , for fear of hurting my shoulder again.

Right, I think this ramble may end now. Tomorrow, I suspect I will add on Garbha pindasana and maybe baddha konasana. I’ll see if I can catch H for a chat about it too.