Tuesday, June 22, 2010


It’s official: I’m growing weary of writing 800 word essays every day. Sorry, Bindu Wiles, but I miss those lazy days of succinct practice reports, a photo or link or YouTube link. My writer’s block has writer’s block. In the beginning, I was going to try for Daily Profundity, but I don’t have the energy for it.

I have to admit, though - this project has forced me to dig deep and write some things down that have been tumbling around my brain for months. It’s time-consuming, but it’s soul-enriching in a weird sort of way.

Today, I’m opting for a series of little newsy bits and bites, an update of sorts on the minutae of my life and practice and a gremlin update.


The Slaying of the Dinosaur

When I last wrote about the paronychia (the infection in the cuticle of my big toe - a.k.a. ‘The Dinosaur’), it was a painful mess and I was desperately trying a number of natural remedies to combat the infection. My foot was getting regular epsom salt soaks and I was hobbling around in layers of band-aids to protect it from the elements. I was modifying my practice and trying to land ‘light on my feet’ in jumpbacks. I even stopped rolling over my toes in vinyasas (because it HURT!).

There were a few days when I was ready to fly the white flag of surrender and head to the allopathic doctor for convention antibiotics, but I decided to wait it out for 10 days before going that route.

I’m glad I waited. In the end, the winning combination was oregano oil taken orally a few times daily and frequent applications of 100% tea tree oil directly to the site of the infection. I opted for the tea tree oil when I realised that the infection was fungal (the epsom salts soaks were making it worse by introducing moisture into the infection site). It took exactly 11 days, but it’s all healed up now.


No more SUGAR!

Around the end of April, I announced an intention to start removing sugar from my diet. This was a hugely big deal for me because I have an extraordinary sweet tooth - I could LIVE on cookies! I started jokingly referring to sugar as ‘SUGAR!’ (in all caps because consuming it had become an ongoing coping strategy).

It was touch and go for awhile, but my diet is now almost entirely sugar-free. I abstain during my ‘six day week’. On Saturdays, I’m allowed one ‘cheat’. For almost 8 years, I’ve been buying ‘Death by Chocolate’ cookies from a vendor at a farmer’s market near my Saturday morning class. Mike, the Cookie Guy, would be heartbroken not to see me, so I’ve continued this ritual as a reward to myself. I eat my cookies with tea in the afternoon and enjoy every bite.

Life without (much) sugar has been interesting. My sense of sweet has become greatly sensitized and I’m amazed by how ‘sugary’ something like a mango is to my palate. Raisins taste like rich candy! I now use one packet of Splenda for an entire pot of chai and it’s tastes just heavenly. I rarely have cravings.

Most of the time, I don’t miss it. Foods that contain refined sugar taste TOO sweet.


It’s Hamstring Week!

Nitara, my gremlin, is on the move again and this time she’s in my left inner hamstring. It happened during Kurmasana this morning. I had a sudden oh-my-goodness-this-is-not-good moment as I lifted my heels in the pose. I can’t even beat myself up about this one because that’s one pose that I’m very careful coming into; I don’t rush it because I’m never sure if those heels are actually going to lift.

I immediately came out of the pose and sat up, stretched my leg out, trying to figure it out. It wasn’t a sharp pain, more like an angry cramping sensation. The upper hamstrings suddenly felt ‘ropey’ and tight. R noticed my futzing and asked me what was up. She instructed me to come back into Kurmasana, but to modify, so I did. I couldn’t even straighten my legs in the pose without sensation. Supta Kurmasana was fine, though and I continued on.

The only other poses affected were Supta Padangushtasana (bringing my left leg out to the side produced a uncomfortable ‘ropey’ sensation, so I modified) and, of course, Upavista Konasana.

I moved very slowly and carefully through the remaining poses, easing through each one. Backbends were not great, mostly because I was a bit freaked out by that point. I think I did two, came down, did three more with a rest in between each. It wasn’t a great showing, but I’m just happy I got through the rest of my practice without losing my shit.

I lost my shit at the grocery store instead.

Sitting on a bench in front of the store, I gazed out at the torrential downpour and despaired that I would ever make it home on my little bicycle considering the line of angry clouds marching in from the west. Big tears started flowing down my cheeks and I bit my lip. The woman on the bench next to me kindly ignored my Crazy. I popped 3 arnica pellets under my tongue (as instructed by R, who consulted with me as I left the Shala) and hoped like hell that my day would get better.

And it did. I made it home, smeared on some arnica gel and passed out cold for three hours. Long, morning naps make everything better!

It’s going to be a very interesting week, practising with a gremlin in my hamstring! I have no idea what awaits me on the mat tomorrow, given that forward bending is affected and most of the Primary Series is...wait for it...forward bending.

To be honest, I’m not terribly upset by this one. This is an ‘opening’ that’s been long in coming - that hamstring has been on the edge of wonky for months, pre-Shala. I’m glad I can finally work through it. This will be good for me. I’ve been getting lazy my in forward bends - now I’ll be forced to pay attention.


This week, 70s Yogini, Joan Gould (a.k.a. ‘Beehive Lady’) offers this bit of timely advice. I’m going to keep this in mind as I move through my practice tomorrow:

Make haste, by all means, but do it SLOWLY!!

Okey dokey!


sarah said...

I've also found the goal of 800 words to be tiresome... writing more or less as I feel the spirit of it is to get me putting it out there... not counting words...

It has really been wonderful sharing your practice, your life... The impact of my yoga and writing combined lately seems to be that I am curious about trying asana that I've just never thought I could approach. I thank YOU for part of that influence. You seem to take it on, let go of the judgment (eventually!) and just find out what is it, what is going on, and what else might happen?

Good luck with the hamstring. It is always interesting how the body will reawaken attention this way...

So, Make Haste Slowly ... GLAD about your toe too!

susananda said...

I know that obviously you're wet when you're in the bath, but don't Epsom salts have a drying out effect?

stephanie said...

Where do you *get* these crazy yoga books?! Make Haste Slowly -- LOL!

Good for you for cutting back on sugar. I've changed my diet pretty radically over the past 10 years, and for me this is the change that's had the biggest impact. It's only been 5 months, but it feels great... I have much more energy, and my mood has become more stable. It's made such a huge difference for me, beyond what I can describe! (Now, I've also cut out ALL other sweeteners, even natural ones, which might be extreme, but I had to do it, to get over the addictive feeling...)

I've heard that just by cutting out refined sugar in their diets, people's health would improve 30%... It sounds so simple, but it can be difficult at first because sugar is so ubiquitous. Anyway it's well worth the effort IMO.

Kaivalya said...

I too was inspired in part by various 'Astanga blogs' to give the practice a try. I find that inspiration strikes when you're ready for it! Good luck with your explorations :-)

I'm 'making haste slowly' from now on. It's my new motto!

Yeah, the salts are supposed to dry you out and draw out toxins. Maybe I was soaking the toe too long, but it turns out that the fungus thrives in moisture. It really turned a corner when I just let it 'dry out' naturally and added the tea tree oil.

Sheesh, that whole paragraph sounds kind of gross. Sorry for the TMI!

I've found most of my crazy yoga books at second-hand stores and garage sales. And one of my students gave me a couple. I love them! It was a different yoga world out there before Lulu took over!

I totally believe that cutting out sugar increases health. Both times I've tried this, I've experienced a 'weight release' and found myself shifting to healthier food choices in general. It's all connected!

Arturo said...

dear Kai
say hello to Mike for me. haha.

i sometimes worry about my sundays. i should call it Carb Sundays. i think i don't eat hardly anything but bread, a muffin, a croissant, oatmeal. i have to control it the rest of the week.


Kaivalya said...

I'll give Mike your regards! :-)

I cut most wheat out of my diet recently in an effort to control my skin rashes and allergies. Unfortunately, it worked *sad eyes*, so now I feel compelled to stick with it.

I miss banana pancakes! :-(

This has been great for controlling my carb intake, though. The only carbs I get are through fruits and veggies. I'm eating a lot of protein (vegetable sources) these days because my practice takes so much out of me.

My diet is only quasi-CR, but I'm putting a huge emphasis on the 'optimal nutrition' part. I'm getting 100% of everything I need there and I carefully monitor with with CoM.

Arturo said...

wow, you're my heroine. i need to start using CoM again. but i seem to have the system of CRON down to an intuitive level right now.

Kaivalya said...

I've been on and off with the CR. But going back to a vegan diet has been helpful. I'm also mostly gluten-free now, which makes it simple.

I saw April yesterday and she asked if we were still in touch. I told her you were in China. :-)