Saturday, May 29, 2010

Astanga

I’ve been struck with incredible insomnia this week, which is *not* normal for me.

I’m a good sleeper! I’m usually able to lay down and slumber within minutes. I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere. I used to sleep so deeply in Astronomy lectures during university that I would dream, vividly, Classmates would have to wake me when the lecture ended. I took naps in the university library regularly. While travelling through Europe, I slept in busy train stations, on the decks of ferries, in parks. The location didn’t matter - if I could be horizontal, I could sleep.

I like to sleep! :-) And I’m good at it!

But this week, all my normal sleeping patterns have shifted. Through much of the week, I was getting the bare minimum hours of rest each night (except for the night I took a pill, but that left me with a wicked pharmaceutical hangover, yuck). Every night, I’m struggling to fall asleep and I’ve been waking in the middle of the night.

My teachers want me to cook - well, it looks like I’m simmering! And my nervous system is having a Pitta Party! Wise Ashtangi friends have pointed out that backbending is the likely culprit. And I’m not even close to Second Series yet...argh.

I bought some sublingual melatonin on Boodi’s recommendation and I’ll try that tonight. To be honest, I’m so completely loopy exhausted right now, I doubt sleep will be an issue tonight.

Last night, I came home at the respectable hour of 10 p.m., but I didn’t even try to go to bed until midnight. Then I laid in my bed, glaring at the ceiling until almost 2 a.m. At 5 a.m. sharp, I was wide awake and ready to rumble! On three hours sleep! I could NOT sleep in, even though I desperately wanted to.

So I got up and practised. I had planned to do a home practice of Primary on the Moon Day, but I wasn’t motivated, so I did it today. I don’t always feel comfortable experimenting and futzing around with poses in the Shala. I wanted to work out a few things in Marichyasana B and D, play with Bakasana/Padmasana jumpbacks and work on my backbending.

I’ve been troubled by the placement of my ankle lately in Mari B/D. As much as I try to keep that joint straight, I know I’m over-stretching the ligaments on the outside of my ankle. Today, I tried a few different approaches with my half-lotus and repeated the pose a half-dozen times. I finally figured out that if I bring my foot *really* high into the hip crease and open the hip just a bit more, there’s less of an angle at the ankle joint.

This had a small impact on my Marichyasana B: I couldn’t go as deep into the forward fold (but that will come back in time). I was afraid I would lose the wrist bind completely in Marichyasana D. To my surprise, I found the wrist bind *easier* with the deeper half-lotus! Often, R has to nudge me into this bind, but I found my wrist easily today. This could be a fluke, though. I’ll know for sure when I repeat it in the Shala tomorrow.

The jumpback work was really fun! I’m starting to really get the hang of the lotus jumpback! I tried holding Bakasana for a few seconds to make the jumpback more solid. I’m still struggling to come into a hold-able Bakasana from Bhujapidasana and Supta K. My legs never end up high enough near my shoulders to make the proper transition into the arm balance.

Backbending: Three Urdhva Dhanurasana for warm-up, two for rocking, two more walking in the hands in, and three walking up the wall to standing. Ten, total. R doesn’t seem to want me to do more than that, so I stopped and did finishing poses.

Here’s this week’s State-of-the-backbend:

I had very low expectations since I had a bad week and the Moon Day, but I actually see some improvement! My arms could be straighter though.

13 comments:

Helen said...

Wow, that is a beautiful backbend! Well done so glad things are working out for you again. You did have some drama this week so that may have had an effect on your sleeping too. I find longer inversions and a longer relaxation help after intense backbending to ground me again.

Flo said...

I've had sleep issues this week as well. Hoping that evens itself out soon.
I have to agree though that the backbending could be part of it.
Also for Marichyasana's the ankle for me isn't the issue. It is my Middle :)
If I lost some of my tummy- I think I could bind on my own. As of right now the teach has to help me. I've got to get the gut gone! :)

Boodiba said...

I think I had the inverse problem today. I've been sleeping actually too much and my back bends have been crap. I keep thinking that it's time to add the tick tocks to 2nd, but then when ever I practice at home - a good situation for a sort of maiden run - I have a creaky practice.

I hope the melatonin worked well for you!

Arturo said...

hi Kai
my feet splay like that too. i see why the teacher wants them more parallel. but when you're working to get the pose, anything goes. once you've been doing it for a while, then alignment becomes important. where's the Buddha?
hugs
Arturo

Kaivalya said...

@Helen
Thanks! It's coming along, now I just need to learn how to rock efficiently!
You're right about the drama. I'm hoping the coming week is boring and drama-free with lots of good sleep!

@Flo
Are you vegetarian? Sometimes, a small shift in diet can be profound for the body. I've always been vegetarian and occasionally vegan, but I started eating a lot of eggs and dairy over the past couple of years. I went back to a more vegan diet, I found that I shed weight around my middle almost effortlessly.

@Boodi
The ticktocks would definitely 'shake up' your 2nd and give you something to chew on! :-)

Boodiba said...

I used to do them after just 2nd, but the last time I did so was maybe a Sunday in December. I'm using the ever present fear as an excuse for laziness. Excuses, excuses!!!

Kaivalya said...

@Boodi
Maybe once things settle down in your life, you can add a bit of fear back into your practice. You've had enough of that in your day-to-day life as it is. Or maybe adding the tick-tocks will give you some perspective on the other stuff? Who knows...you'll get there when you're ready.

Kaivalya said...

@Arturo
My feet often are like that. R sometimes adjusts my feet, especially the right foot.

I put a little Ganesha on the futon armrest for you to spot, but my leg ended up blocking him! :-)

Boodiba said...

Ya... I do them after the 3rd. That's enough for me right now! But I know I've gotta do 'em after 2nd. I let the excuse of thinking I'm not warmed up enough to bypass... But right things are calming down. I'll get to it!

V said...

Backbend looking good! I'd say work on straightening the legs rather than the arms. See if you can get into the hip flexors.

Christine said...

Kai,

I've had good luck with Valerian for insomnia. I've had periods of insomnia since my teenage years and starting second a few years ago kind of pushed me over the insomnia edge! I finally gave up coffee completely. :)
Valerian is a natural muscle relaxant with no icky "morning after" effects.

Beautiful backbend photo!

Kaivalya said...

@V
V!!! Yay! :-) I didn’t think you were still reading here!

I think your advice is spot on. I'm going to work on the legs at the Shala, and maybe some extracurricular hip openers in my non-existent spare time.

Kaivalya said...

@Christine
Thanks! I haven't tried Valerian. I'll keep that one in mind.