Thursday, June 3, 2010

Astanga

I had a hellish commute last night. I finished teaching my last class close to 9, just as storms were moving through the area pouring down rain. I caught a subway, but the line was out of service. On the bright side, it terminated at a station where I’m familiar with the bus schedules/routes. On the dire side, it took me almost two hours to get home because the buses were running late. Bad transit karma!

I was tired this morning, but rolled into the Shala early and had a really great practice. I had one space-cadet-flake-out moment when I almost skipped past Bhujapidasana into Garba Pindasana, but I caught myself. I guess I was feeling a bit sheepish because I moved into Bhujapidasana very quickly and efficiently without even thinking about it. And the pose was almost effortless! I lowered my chin smoothly to the floor and lifted my feet! The exit was even decent (P had corrected my vinyasa on this the other day). Best Bhuja ever!

I managed Supta K entirely on my own. The cross of my ankles is getting deeper.

I’m also getting the lotus jumpbacks more often than not. I think the next step is to bring my hands wider apart so I can move through Chaturanga without moving them.

R had a busy room this morning, so I was on my own in Urdhva Dhanurasana. Before my first three, I gave myself a bit of a pep talk: You’ve been practising yoga asana for 15 years. You DON’T need R to baby-sit you in order to work hard! You can do this on your own. Work hard!!

Today’s theme (I decided) was walking the hands in. Here’s how it played out

#1: Came up, held the backbend while breathing deeply. I tried to lengthen both my inhalation and my exhalation.

#2: Head to floor for a breath cycle, inched the hands in a bit, back up. 5 breaths.

#3: Head to floor for a breath cycle, inched the hands in yet again. 5 breaths.

rest

#4 Came up, walked the hands in one hand length. Hold for 5.

#5 Head to the floor to rest, back up with the hands walked in another half-hand length. Hold for 5.

Rest

#6, #7, and #8 were all variations on the theme above, with lots of handwalking. I walked too far in on #7 and had to drop back down. On #8, I walked in until the heels lifted then pressed them back down and focused on straightening my arms. I only held the last one for three breath cycles.

At this point, the gremlin that’s living in my neck and upper back had decided to move from my right shoulderblade to my left. I was really careful in the Marichyasanas today and took it easy in Mari D. R came over to adjust me, then remembered the shoulder/neck issue and left me alone in the pose. My practice was going so well, I thought everything was fine!

But then, my post-UD Chakrasana was suspiciously uncomfortable. Sarvangasana felt great. Then I set up for Sirsasana and something VERY odd happened. I couldn’t come up! This is normally an effortless pose for me so I kept trying and trying! It wasn’t so much pain as a complete failure of the muscles to engage properly; they didn’t want to go there. Something in my upper back was not co-operating (Trapezius? Latissimus?). R noticed and told me to do what I could, so I did the pose while keeping my big toes lightly on the floor.

After that, I noticed how very uncomfortable I was. R had to tell me to stop futzing around in Savasana (I was rubbing my neck). The gremlin (as Boodi calls it; see yesterday’s comments), has been moving around like Goldilocks trying to find a new bed, but after my practice it was definitely worse. R came out to check on me before I left the Shala. She recommended Arnica Gel and homeopathic Arnica Montana pellets.

It’s definitely a neck issue, but it’s never been quite this bad. I applied the Arnica, put three pellets under my tongue and laid down for a nap. The jury is still out on how helpful Arnica actually is, but it certainly knocked me out for a good two hours. I needed the sleep!

I took a bonus salt bath and laid on the accuball, then did the exercises recommended in McKenzie’s book, ‘Treat Your Own Neck’ (this has been very helpful to me in the past). I’m teaching tonight. I’ll take the Arnica Gel with me. If I’m still this miserable before bed, I may resort to the muscle relaxants.

I’ve decided to give my gremlin a name: Nitara. It’s a Hindi hame which means ‘having deep roots’. I think this pain has deep emotional roots and I can only move through it.

This is NOT fun.

3 comments:

Linda said...

It's interesting how different people are. I'm so jealous at you for beeing able to bind Supta K by yourself, I just cannot do it at all, not even close. But then again I can do dropbacks and come up easily.
What's up with Boodi? Loved reading her blog but now it's not accessable?
Good luck with standing up from Urdhva D, I think you'll do it quite soon, just figure out how to use your legs and your core strength to get there :)

patrick said...

The teacher in me (and that's only 3 years experience) somehow reads your last line and wants to say, "YES! You are GETTING IT!" Not because it's supposed to be not fun, but because there are not fun bits to be had all over asana practice, which generally (as you yourself see in your post) connect to stuff that isn't pure asana practice.

That's what you grasp now. Well done :)

Kaivalya said...

@Linda
Funny you mention that. I've noticed that easy backbenders seem to struggle with Supta K. I'm sympathetic! Supta K is just a weird, weird pose.

I find that when I'm really working the Marichyasanas, it becomes easier to bind, though.

Boodi's taking a hiatus for a bit. She may be back, eventually.

@Patrick
As teachers, if we promoted our classes honestly, we'd have no students to teach!

How about this: "Yoga is relaxing! Spend an hour sweating and trying to rein in your increasingly agitated brain as you learn to abide in discomfort and maintain your composure during moments of exertion. This is NOT fun. Sign up now!"

;-)