Friday, October 31, 2008

Day 333

Happy Hallowe'een!

I'm totally sidelined by this scary cold. I practised for a half-hour this morning, but didn't make it much further than the standing poses and one back bend. I crumpled into savasana, exhausted, then staggered off to teach my noon class.

Then I got my second wind when I carried a heavy pumpkin home! ;-)

Tonight, I'm going to decorate out the front of the house with fake cobwebs and pumpkin balloons and we're going to carve the pumpkin. Then we'll give out candy to the little trick-or-treaters. In past years, I've always been at the apartment (or sometimes, I've been teaching), so this will be fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day 332

I'm so exhausted today. I ended up napping away the morning (after spending the early morning volunteering at the soup kitchen), so I did a short practice in the afternoon. This head cold is really taking a lot out of me and, even more troubling, it's moving to my lungs and my throat. My voice has been very scratchy today and the *last* thing I need right now is laryngitis (it's kind of hard to teach if you can't talk!)

This same cold (along with the threat of losing my voice) seems to hit me every year around this time and I would love to find a way to dodge it. And no, practising CR doesn't make me immune to all illnesses, though I tend to be healthier than average and fight bugs more efficiently.

Today was a big Sirsasana day for me. I haven't been doing the pose lately, because of the head cold and because I haven't felt strong enough. But we had a wall to work against in my noon class, so I decided to teach it. And, in teaching it, I did the pose several times to demonstrate. And it totally ROCKED! I've really missed standing on my head! I practised it again in my own practice and enjoyed it.

It's really gratifying to see parts of my practice coming back to me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Day 331

I took a long walk this morning and practised afterward. Something about the walk helped get me going. Sun salutations felt easy and strong and my hamstrings even felt a bit more open.

Unfortunately, I think I'm getting a cold, a different cold than the one I had last week. And I've been feeling a bit run down. I've had trouble motivating myself to get anything done this week, but for some reason I felt a surge of energy after my yoga practice and managed to do some cleaning around the apartment. I felt so much better after that.

I think it was a combination of the activity, creating a clean environment and a focus on self-care. This time of year, when the days start to get shorter, I can be a bit grumpy and I have to develop strategies to combat the blues. I haven't started using light therapy yet, but I will soon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 330

I took a bit of a break due to Lady's Holiday, then the Moon Day. It was actually frustrating because I had finally started to fall into a routine of daily practice again. It's amazing how easy it is to fall *out* of that routine. My goal for this week is to practice four days in a row, including my busy teaching days.

Today's practice was in the morning. I'm feeling very stiff and not particularly strong after my break. Hopefully my hamstrings will open back up again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Day 329

Another good practice today! I'm teaching hip openers in my classes this week, so I had the opportunity to practice Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana (Pigeon Pose) over and over again as I demonstrated it in class. Not an Ashtanga pose, but it is a powerful hip opener and for some reason, I'm feeling it in a big way in my right hip. It feels good, like something is being released.

I'm still feeling strong and energetic. At the beginning of the week, I was hopeful that I could put in five days of practice this week. Alas, my lady's holiday is coming up any day now, so I'll save that hope for another week (maybe next?)

What I would really like to do is get back into a routine of a six day practice. I think I should do this before I start easing back into full primary. The goal is to gradually build back up to full primary six days a week, which is what I was doing before I got sick.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Day 328

Today was a great day! I felt more energetic and alive than I have since before I got sick in the summer. It was amazing - I had energy! I went for a walk, I cleaned and winterized the balcony, I ran errands, cleared my desk...

I did my practice, meditated and even picked up my shruti box for awhile. I had such a great day!

Practice felt really good. I'm still doing half-primary, but little shifts are starting to happen. I no longer feel back pain in Marichyasana A and I was able to bind in Marichyasana C. I'm still doing Supta Padangustasana in place of Janu Sirsasana, but today, instead of using the strap, I was able to grab my big toe. I'm feeling big opening in my hamstrings and this has taken so much pressure off my low back. My practice is actually starting to feel good again!

Now, when I'm feeling stiff, I have something to contrast it with. The other day, someone asked me how my body was feeling and I said that it felt 'gummy'. It's like I have glue in my joints or something. Must be a lot of toxins in there still, that I'm flushing out gradually.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Day 327

Then, on Thursday, I got sick.

Nothing dramatic, just a cold, but I've felt unmotivated and exhausted and achy ever since. I stayed home and rested over the weekend, spending hours of quality time with the Grey's Anatomy Season 4 (which I never watched because I got out o the TV Habit last year) and Sarah Waters' latest novel (which was wonderful and now I've developed a Sarah Waters Habit - I've moved on to one of her earlier novels).

On Sunday morning after brunch, I was all lively and energetic after such a lovely morning (a long walk in the crisp air, lovely fall colours, french toast stuffed with cream cheese and apple slices at Yasi's). I was determined to hit the mat. Alas, I sat on the sofa to rest and was asleep within a half-hour. I slept for four.

I did better this morning. After breakfast, a walk with the dog, and an hour on the phone settling a billing issue with Bell Canada (argh!), I was ready to practice. Okay, I wasn't really 'ready' but I bribed myself with the promise of a nap afterward. Besides, Alfia's sick too and she's practising. I'm not alone in my misery.

As for the cold, it's moving along. I think I may be seeing the tail end of it. Last night was rough because I was so congested that my sleep was affected. I had very strange dreams. In one dream, I was in a yoga class and couldn't do Urdhva Dhanurasana no matter how hard I tried. I woke up very alarmed and during my practice today, I made sure to do one very solid Urdhva Dhanurasana.

I feel better. :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day 326

Busy, busy in the midst of teaching classes this week. I wasn't sure I would make it to the mat today because I was so exhausted from teaching last night, but I managed to coax myself. My back is a bit sore this morning, but I'm feeling so much stronger in other parts of the practice that it's really like night and day. My hamstrings are gradually opening up again - and my hips. My shoulders and arms are stronger and I've even felt some significant opening in my shoulders.

Ironically, I've been struggling with the Marichyasana poses. They used to be my favourite, but now I find that these poses put a real strain on my low back and I just dread them. Even Marichyasana A is difficult for me. I can't bring my forehead to the floor in B and I haven't been binding in C. I skip D altogether.

For Janu Sirsasana, I've continued to lay on my back and use a yoga strap to stretch my hamstrings. This modification is my favourite part of the practice. I think there's some angst in them there hamstrings!

Shoulderstand is difficult theses days, not because of shoulder pain (that's gone) but because of the lower back pain.

And I'm still doing a partial practice - never more than Navasana. I simply can't imagine doing Kurmasana right now. Torture!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Day 325

Mid-morning practice today. My back is a bit tight, but much better than last week. I haven't been using the Sharath CD this week, finding it easier and less fuss just to hit the mat and *do it* rather than mess around with my computer and the speaker and whatnot. I feel like I'm getting stronger in body, but I haven't yet rediscovered my great enthusiasm for yoga. Once I'm on the mat, I'm fine and I enjoy myself. It's the motivation that seems to be MIA.

Also, I'm struggling with maintaining my daily practice when I'm spending time at the house. There really isn't a space for me to do yoga at the house and every time I've practised there it's felt haphazard and awkward. I know that part of the problem is me grasping on to excuses. I'm not sure how this issue will be resolved and I suspect I'm sort of waiting around for it to resolve itself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 324

Each week, I start with a fresh resolve to resume a daily practice, but I seem to be practising about three days a week despite myself. Stuff just comes up.

Last week, the 'stuff' was lower back pain. I think some of this may be related to pre-lady's-holiday-syndrome. And probably my return to full-time teaching. By the time the weekend rolled around, I was feeling lazy and in 'holiday mode' and didn't feel like practising at all. So I didn't. Pure laziness.

My yoga practice was fine today, despite the fact that I felt like a beluga whale on the mat. Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving and though I didn't stuff myself too badly, I did feel get that weird bloaty feeling from eating so many unusual foods. I spent the holiday with friends and brought my American-style candied sweet potatoes. They initially raised some eyebrows but quickly won converts.

As of today, I'm back to eating healthy and more-or-less on CR. I have no more excuses until Christmas!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day 323

I didn't skip any of the vinyasa today, but I'm still not jumping back or through. I'm taking my time with that because I suspect jumps may have been aggravating the problem with my back. Still, I can feel my strength coming back and it's fantastic.

This illness, and coming back to the practice after a hiatus, has shown me how amazing Ashtanga truly is. The changes in my body during the first year were so slow and subtle that I couldn't really appreciate how incredibly strong and flexible I had become. With my 'beginners mind' and a new perspective, I'm now in awe of my own body.

Today, I smoothly moved through the new routine I've created for myself - a very, very gentle version of Ashtanga, Primary Series up to Navasana. I'm still doing Urdhva Dhanurasana - just once - before closing and enjoying it.

I’m particularly enjoying shoulderstand these days. I wasn't able to do the pose for months because of that shoulder injury but the shoulder feels fine now. The only thing holding me back from really rocking the closing poses are my tight hamstrings. Just being able to do shoulderstand feels miraculous and fun. Yesterday and today, I did Urdhva Padmasana and was overjoyed!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Day 322

My arms no longer hurt. And my back doesn't hurt either because I'm making modifications to protect it.

Deep in my heart, I've finally come to accept my practice as it is. At the moment, it's not that great. And that's fine.

I'm backing off, listening to my body (something I always implore my students to do). I've started to modify without feeling like it's cheating. My strength is coming back quickly - Chaturangas were better today. Soon I'll be doing vinyasa between sides again. The biggest issue is now flexibility, specifically, my hamstrings. And the tight hamstrings are contributing to the cramping in my low back, I'm certain of it.

My hamstrings are really, really tight. How tight? Well, I'm barely resting the tips of my fingers on the floor in Uttanasana and using a yoga brick for the standing postures. My head no longer reaches the floor in the Prasaritas. For the time being, I've swapped out Janu Sirsasana with Supta Padangustasana, but using a strap. I'm doing everything I can to gradually lengthen my hamstrings.

Funny, I can do Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, I just can't straighten my leg :-D

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Day 321

I just had to take a break late last week. After doing my own practice and teaching four classes on Wednesday, I was so deeply exhausted. I opted out of Ashtanga and opted in for three loads of laundry.

That was a good decision - among other reasons, I was out of socks. :-D Also, I woke up on Friday feeling absolutely wretched: headache, body aches, bone-deep-exhaustion. Clearly, I was sapped out from two days of teaching. I don't teach on Friday right now, so I had the day to recover. I slept until noon, got up briefly to eat and walk the dog, then went back to bed.

On Saturday, I was feeling better. Today, I spent an hour on the mat with Sharath's soothing voice leading me. I practised up to Navasana and did closing. I'm still feeling some cramping in my lower back/sacrum during my practice. This is a brand new problem and I'm not sure what to make of it. Some instinct led to me do one Urdhva Dhanurasana and it felt really good, so I think I'll keep that in my practice from now on.

I really appreciated C's comment on my last post regarding recovering from illness and how it affects yoga practice. I first returned to my practice with a deep determination to continue where I had left off, or to at least do the full Primary Series. *shakes head* This is clearly impossible for me right now. I've been humbled by my newly-weak body.

But during my practice today, I really noticed my breathing with great clarity. If I'm honest, I will admit that back in June, I wasn't practising with a strong Ujjayi breath; it was a bit flakey and inconsistent. Since I can't go as deeply into poses now and I'm struggling with new tensions in my body, my practice is all about the breath!

And I do need to cut my self some slack right now, particularly since I'm still a full-time yoga teacher. My class schedule (which is mercifully light at the moment) has been very challenging for me. By months end, I'll be teaching a full schedule and I need to be ready for that. Patience, hard work, rest and recovery will be key.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Day 320

My Fall teaching schedule kicked in this week and today I'm teaching four classes. I practised yoga in the morning, managing to squeeze in an hour before leaving to teach my noon class.

I had a sweaty, sore practice. Yes, still feeling sore. I'm also still plagued by lower back spasms, but find that doing cat/dog tilts between poses helps to ease tension in my low back. Today, the spasms didn't hit until I started the seated poses, which makes me suspect that forward bending (and tight hammies) is the culprit. I was too exhausted at the end to do a proper closing sequence or headstand. I'm not yet doing Urdhva Dhanurasana - the very idea is incomprehensible.

It will be interesting to see how I feel after teaching three more classes tonight. I'm looking forward to teaching, but I'm a bit worried about my endurance. I've been walking with the dog every day (my usual 45 minute walk) and my diet is much, much better. I'm back to CR and I'm able to eat vegetables again (for a short time after my illness, I had an aversion to everything except toast and white rice).

In general, my energy levels are lower than usual and I often feel tired. I usually try to nap in the late morning or early afternoon. The other day, I slept 11 hours overnight and still fell into a deep sleep for two hours in the afternoon. I never sleep this much! It's almost comical!

I teach four more classes tomorrow. I'm already looking forward to Friday - I don't have anything scheduled on that day and I plan to lay around with a book and snooze!