Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I had a calm, flowing, perfectly ordinary practice this morning, except for my left big toe. I was a bit overzealous pedicure-ing yesterday and it made for a sore landing on jumpbacks. Not a big deal, but the Primary Series has many, many jumpbacks. It was a bit bizarre to be SO brightly aware of every. single. one. On the plus side, it also made me aware of the impact of my landings. I used my Bandhas more and brought some of the work into my arms, which made my landings lighter.

As I finished the second side of Marichyasana D, I felt a subtle shift in my body and a cramping sensation near my left shoulderblade. I paused to assess and it seemed okay so I moved on. I felt another shift during the last Navasana and it was gone. After Garba Pindasana, I noticed that the sensation had shifted just above my right shoulderblade and it’s still there.

I paused my practice at one point and sat in Siddhasana, continuing Ujjayi and observing the sensation. It’s not an injury.

It’s reminiscent of those ‘growing pains’ I went through with Chakrasana a couple months ago. In that instance, my neck hurt for a while. I even took a break from the transition to let things simmer down a bit, but then I moved through it. Fortunately, I had the help of skilled teachers to nudge me through it. Now, my neck feels very comfortable during my rolls.

Last year, I went through almost exactly the same thing with Marichyasana C. At the time, it really freaked me out; my practice waned. Whenever I came back to Astanga, this same thing would pop up again and again. Finally, I decided to keep going, working carefully through it. When ‘it’ was done, I found my wrist bind in Marichyasana C for the very first time.

In the yoga community, Astanga is sometimes condemned for tolerating ‘injuries’ - ‘openings’ - which might sideline a practitioner in other traditions. Through my own experience. I’ve come come to understand the difference between an a true ‘injury’ and an ‘opening’. When discomfort appears in my practice, I pay attention and ask questions, but I don’t necessarily stop completely. Through experience, I’ve come to understand that some of my aches and pains are simply blocks that I must move through in order to deepen my practice.

I believe this is precisely what I’m experiencing now. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the sensations dissipate in a week and I’m left with a effortless wrist bind in Marichyasana D.

P must have noticed me futzing around during my practice and that’s pretty unusual when it doesn’t involve me mopping off sweat with a towel. ;-) He popped out briefly to check in with me as I was getting ready to leave. He’s familiar with this whole process of ‘opening’ and ‘moving through’. I know he’ll brief R and they’ll keep an eye on me for the next few days, just to make sure I’m okay.


Speaking of towels!

I found this fantastic link: Don’t Panic – 42 Awesome Ways to Use a Towel

I’m deeply familiar with #9, but there are many, MANY other fantastic possibilities on this list for futzing around with my towel!

Towels: they’re not *just* for mopping sweat anymore! :-D


Boodiba said...

I used to think of an area of "bodily congestion" in myself as a personal demon. I named it Tanga! And mine moved too. This was back in the heavily injured days of my first year point five of Mysore style. It was often so difficult, I sometimes wonder if I had a subconscious, future premonition of deep satisfaction that kept me going.

Demon is probably too strong a word. Gremlin? An area of heightened sensitivity that responds well to working through but gets peeved when ignored.

It's an interesting process!

Kaivalya said...

Mine has been wandering like crazy! Gremlin is a good word, though mine has no sense of fun.

I was kind of expecting this to come up more often, actually. My teachers are very good, so I've had no 'injuries' from practising Mysore Style. But this little gremlin has popped up periodically no matter how I'm practising. I can even remember an occurrence pre-yoga, in my early 20s.

I hope this episode clears up quickly!!! It's uncomfortable.

Claudia said...

I like how you describe your understanding, viewing it as something that needs attention but not necessarily stopping, just not going so far... this morning I just came accross P.Jois' phrase, "body not stiff, mind stiff". Reading your post made me think about that...

I am experiencing something like that in garba pindasana too...

Boodiba said...

Yes.. the Tanga for me was like a family of gypsies. It'd pack up & move on... First it inhabited the left upper hamstring, inner pelvis. Then it changed sides. After that it decided to head north to my mid back. It went left to right there again. Then it moved on to my right shoulder. Etc., etc... Damned Tanga!

When I get impatient, I usually throw money at the problem in the form of acupuncture. Though now I do have my little hand-held ultrasound too. Castor oil wraps can be helpful if it's in an area that's easy to isolate that way.

Kaivalya said...

When I saw Guruji's quote on your Twitter, it immediately resonated with me.

Although this is manifesting in a deeply physical way, I'm pretty sure it has roots in my mind/nervous system.

It's driving me crazy! Astanga growing pains!!

Kaivalya said...

I was actually thinking of getting some acupuncture for this. If it's truly a blockage like I think it is, I'm sure a good practitioner would have something to say about it.

Boodiba said...

There's a Chinese lady I go to on 2nd Ave, near my place. If I am doing ANYthing after practicing & working all day, it has to be close to the hovel (if I've got a repeat of the same the next day - tonight I'm going out in Chelsea but that's cause I'm not getting up for led primary tomorrow).

I pay $350 at once for five sessions. It's not cheap! The last time I went to her it was because I was feeling overly susceptible to psychic impressions!

word veri: proddled

Kaivalya said...

I think I need to get proddled! I wonder how much that costs? lol