Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 159

Today's practice ranks right up there amongst my very-worst-of-all-time. My lady's holiday started last night, I was tired and I had to get up especially early to practice because I work at the soup kitchen on Thursday mornings.

I was very, very cranky.

On the other hand, this was an interesting experiment to conduct. In all my years of practising yoga, I've almost always taken a break during my monthly cycle. I was curious to observe how my body would respond to yoga during this special type of stress. Would yoga feel the same? Would it feel different?

For the most part, I just felt sluggish but there were a few surprises. My low back is always cranky this time of month, and this one is no exception. I thought backbends would bother me, but quite the opposite happened: I didn't skip a single vinyasa between poses because Urdhva Mukha Svanasana was practically the only thing that felt good to me. I savoured each one of those little back bends (which, to my perception, felt like 'front stretches'). I was able to easily do three Urdhva Dhanurasana, without distress or complaint (I'm still amazed at my progress in backbends. I doubt my backbends look very different from the last time I took a photograph, but they certainly feel different to me).

Although I did as much of the full Primary Series as was appropriate, I did take my practice down a notch or two. I kept my twists (in Mari C & D) very gentle and I did modified versions of the Kurmasanas. And, of course, I didn't do any inversions in my practice. I skipped some entirely and for Sarvangasana/Sirsasana, I did five minutes of Viparita Karani. That was a genuine treat - a bit like wandering through Dante's Inferno and stumbling across a bowl of ice cream. You may say to yourself, “What the heck is THAT doing here?” but you're not going to look a gift horse in the mouth either. ;-)

As I did the rest of the closing sequence, it occurred to me that Pattabhi Jois is a very compassionate man. There's a very good reason we ladies are given a few days off at this time of month: practising just sucks. Now I know.

I think this morning's practice was the most challenging obstacle for me to overcome in achieving my WoYoPracMo goal (frankly, I've been dreading the prospect of practising during my lady's holiday, since WoYoPracMo started). I think it will be easy-peasy from here on out.


Michelle said...

Oh man, I could never do a vigorous practice during those days. I would say "good for you" but... I don't think it is good to practice on these days. Who am I to comment though? You are the queen of yoga in my eyes. :)

Kaivalya said...

I agree with you - it's not good to practice during this time of month. I advise my students that the body is going through enough stress and trauma during the menstrual cycle without adding yoga (or, for me, any other workout) to the mix.

That said, it was fascinating to do a vigourous practice during my time of month and experience all the reasons I advise against it. Usually, I feel strong and enlivened after my daily practice, but today, not so much.

I'm enjoying the challenge of WoMoPracYo (and I'm learning so much from this experience!), but I'm also looking forward to a restful yoga month in February, with regular breaks on Saturdays and Moon Days and a few days off for my 'lady's holiday.' :-)

Cara said...

Hi there! New reader here. Just thought I would pop up and say hey.

I happened across your blog while Googling something about ashtanga in Toronto. I've gotten back into the practice over the past couple of months after a hiatus, and it's been really neat looking at the older posts and seeing how your practice has developed over time. I sure hope it does for me too, some of the poses I used to do are taking a long time to come back. I know it's not supposed to be about that, but sometimes it's hard to remember that!

Now that I *almost* practice daily I really look forward to the holiday. I used to resent it and would often practice anyway, but that doesn't work for me at all anymore. I find non-yogic physical activity to be soothing, however, like a little run or a bike ride. To each their own, I suppose! :)

Laurie said...

I think everybody's body is so different. I found that I feel so much better during that week with vigorous practice, especially handstands. I also found that when I was pregnant, backbends and inversions were delicious and stable. Go figure!