Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The gremlin moves back and forth. She nips out to get a coffee and I just when I think she’s gone for good, she’s back, gnawing away at my left rhomboid. At night, she likes to play. Sometimes I’ll wake up at 3 a.m. to find her tobogganing down my trapezius. I usually rise in the morning feeling pretty sore. Sometimes, I try to drown her in the bathtub, but she’s far too clever to fall for that old trick.

In her spare time, she likes tying knots in my levatator scapulae. She prefers ‘Yo Yo Ma’ to ‘Death Cab for Cutie’, favours dark chocolate over vegan protein smoothies and when I bring her to the Shala with me, she shows a distinct preference for certain poses (she LOVES Chakrasana, but Paschimottanasana not so much). She thinks arnica gel is pretty groovy, but that cheap generic heat rub I bought at the drugstore makes her flee for the hills (go figure).

She’s definitely a character and I’m not sure she’s finished with me yet. I don’t know how I feel about this. She’s no longer such a thorn in my side that I pay much attention. As long as I can do my practice every day and teach my classes, I don’t care. Well, not *too* much. But I do wish she would just mosey along.

I had a good practice this morning. I started out a bit distracted, but fell into a groove by the time I hit the standing poses. It was R’s room this morning, so I kept my ears perked for verbals cues and feedback, which always come in abundance when she’s around :-D.

Perhaps it’s because I practised alone for so long, but I have absolutely *no* sense of entitlement about adjustments. My Primary is passable, so I don’t tend to need a lot of help getting into poses. The adjustments I get are mostly of the don’t-be-lazy or bad-lady variety. I almost always get the typical ones: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, Prasarita C and the coveted Paschimo squish. If a teacher isn’t around to adjust me, I just carry on.

Mostly, I’m just happy to be at the Shala, with people to practice with and teachers keeping an eye on me during the tricky parts. I still feel like there’s no place else I want to be for my practice, even with all of the gremlins and nerve cleansing and standing-up-from-a-backbend-scariness. I still love it there.

But when I get a LOT of adjustments, it’s like a COMPLETELY different practice and I’m kind of in awe. Seems like there were a lot of adjustments this morning! In retrospect, there were not *that* many, but they were important ones.

I can’t remember who it was, but one of you recently advised me to empty my lungs completely folding into Kurmasana (I know Susan mentioned it in regards to backbends, allowing the inhale to flow in naturally, etc.). I tried this in Kurmasana and it was really working for me! I received a firm adjustment in the pose and for the first time in about a month, my heels briefly lifted off the floor.

The really mindblowing adjustments were Baddha Konasana A and B. I almost never get assistance with this pose. My hips are absurdly open in external rotation, probably because I spend so much time sitting in Siddhasana and full lotus, so Baddha Konasana is usually a ‘ho hum’ pose for me. I don’t know exactly what R did, but suddenly I felt a DEEP stretch in my hips and since there was no where else to go with that (remember, I’ve been trying to keep my neck neutral and avoid chin-to-shin) I brought my chin forward so my chest could fully meet the floor. My neck felt fine.

R stayed for Baddha Konasana B, and again, I’m not sure precisely sure what she did but the pose felt completely different (it’s usually not one of my favourites). I kind of had this ‘moment’ where I disappeared into a *really* deep headspace and time just stopped. I can’t even remember what I was feeling, but there seemed to be a deep opening. R had to gently nudge me out of the pose, I was so disoriented. Then I couldn’t remember what came next. And then I was fine, but wow, that was weird!

Today’s Backbends:

#1,#2,#3: Felt terrible - not really uncomfortable, but like I wasn’t putting in the effort at all. Sure, I was walking my hands in a little bit, but I started to wonder: Am I being lazy? If I don’t work hard, I’m just wasting my time. Is that the kind of practice I *want* to have?

No. I decided to try harder.

#4,#5: As I walked my hands in for #4, I remembered a tidbit from the Maehle book that I had wanted to try: “...make a swiping movement with your hands toward the end of the mat. Now, without compensating, walk your hands in toward your feet. Here, engage the quadriceps as if you wanted to flex the hip joint.” So I tried this, pushing the heels of my hands toward the back of the mat and engaging my quads. I felt my hips lift a tiny bit and I think they moved forward too. As I walked my hands in, my arms felt RAMROD straight like I suddenly had robot arms!!! From across the room, I head R say something encouraging, so I figured I was on the right track.

I took four more backbends, trying to apply this new information each time. During #7, R mentioned that I should push forward through my psoas, so I focused on that too. This cue was helpful because I know exactly *where* my psoas is, while ‘the hips’ is a bit of a fuzzy term for me.

On #8, I got a “Very good!”. R says my backbends are coming along!

I threw in #9, just for good measure, to cement the work into my muscle memory.

I’m glad I worked hard!


Bindu Wiles launched a yoga-and-writing project today, 21-5-800. I’m very interested in this because I love doing both these things! Although the yoga part of the equation (5 yoga practices per week) is a given for me, I don’t always structure my writing with as much care, or aim for a certain word count. Writing 800 words per day will be a good challenge.

The project starts today and runs for 21 days, concluding on June 28.


susananda said...

I agree, exhale fully into kurmasana too! Funny that, it helps you contract in the deep forward bends, and helps you control the expansion in the backbends. In kurmasana I think it simply helps you go deeper; in backbending it has the function of keeping you calm (me anyway).

Sounds like you're on the right track with the backbends, it's great when you can get the arms straight... and that swiping action helps give a bit of momentum.

Christine said...

I love your description of the gremlin!!...laughed out loud at my desk. You have such a great attitude about all the body shifting going on. It's inspiring.