Saturday, June 12, 2010


Today’s practice report: I did a half-hour of restorative yoga, including the usual repertoire of poses that I do when I’m feeling like roadkill. I hate this time of month: pain, crazy-as-shit-hormones, and the rest. It wasn’t a great practice, but at least I stretched my hips and hamstrings a bit. By the afternoon, I was so miserable, I put three arnica pellets under my tongue and passed out for four hours. I’ll probably do that again tonight.

Since I can’t keep a single coherent thought in my head today, here’s a whole smattering of random stuff: gremlin/dinosaur updates, items I’ve promised to post, backbending musings:


An update on Nitara, my persistent and ever-mobile gremlin:

A few days ago, my left hip started feeling all crampy during the first few forward bends of my practice and I knew that Nitara was once again on the move. By Thursday, she had already shifted back to her regular spot in my left psoas. On Friday morning, my neck was just mildly sore. Nitara is like the bad tenant who leaves a filthy bathroom and holes in the walls. There’s a lingering feeling of stiffness and bad energy in my left neck and upper back.

I felt a need to stretch and twist things out. In fact, when DR smoothly rotated me into that deep, deep Marichyasana C on Friday, it was *exactly* what I was craving and I felt better for the rest of the day. I was able to comfortably roll every Chakrasana on Friday, without worry or fuss. Sarvangasana was a non-event. Sirsasana felt great.

I’m so glad the neck saga is over with, though full lotus is once again ‘not-quite-comfortable’. It’s always something with my Gremlin! I hope Nitara stays more-or-less dormant for awhile. I’m weary of her antics and now I’m worried about my toe.


The ‘dinosaur’:

Damned toe.

My ‘lady’s non-holiday’ arrived yesterday afternoon so I have at least two days off. This will be a good thing for my toe. It has been suggested that my toe might heal faster if I wasn’t wrapping it up in Bandaids, sweating profusely on it, then pounding it into the floor 50+ times every morning.

Astanga is hard on toes! This is *such* a dumb spot to get an easily avoided, silly infection! I’d kick myself if I didn’t think it would impede healing. Argh!

A few days ago, I realised that the toe was doing better without the epsom salt soaks. Keeping it moist seemed to be aggravating the infection. I’m now fairly certain that it has a *cover your eyes* fungal component. I added tea tree oil to my antibiotic mix, which I’m applying every few hours throughout the day. I’m giving this another week to heal with natural remedies. If there’s no progress, I’ll head to the regular doctor and take my chances with antibiotics.

I hope it doesn’t come to that.


A few days ago, a reader asked me about the neti pot mix I use to clear up sinus and bronchial infections. In my 20s, I had chronic bronchitis, year after year. When I started teaching yoga in my early 30s, the bronchitis morphed into laryngitis at best, pneumonia at worst (although neither was a best case scenario: it’s hard to lead a class when you can’t talk!). This constant illness is one of the reasons I’m resistant to antibiotics.

I’ve had better luck with natural remedies: I’ve managed to stay mostly healthy over the past few years with a combination of oregano oil, ColdFX, and my neti pot, used preventatively.

I’m a big believer in the magic of the neti pot! In fact, I’m such a passionate evangelist that I actually demo the neti pot in my yoga classes. Nothing says ‘crazy’ like the yoga teacher who pours salty water through her nostrils in front of 25 sets of astonished eyes. The reactions vary but I always get one or two students who become True Believers and join my merry little cult.

I still hear from a one teenage (now adult) student who has used the neti pot to manage seasonal allergies for years - ever since I demo’ed it in a Hatha class he attended years ago. He no longer practices yoga, but he still pours water through his nose!

See? I’m leaving a legacy!

A few years ago, I started getting sinus infections fairly regularly. My neti pot helped, but didn’t heal the infections. I started researching various natural antibiotics and I developed a mixture that cleared up a particularly stubborn infection that three rounds of conventional antibiotics couldn’t touch. Several months later, I used the same mix to ward off an infection. Now, whenever I feel a cold coming on, I rinse my sinuses with salt water several times a day and use my special anti-infection recipe at least once a day.

I haven’t had a sinus infection in years!

My ‘recipe’ is simple:

In one half-cup of very warm (but not hot) water:

.25 tsp baking soda

.25 tsp sea salt (non-iodized)

.25 tsp raw apple cider vinegar

5-10 drops of GSE (grapefruit seed extract)

Mix well, pour into the neti pot and use one half-pot per nostril. Try not to clear it out of your sinuses right away (you’ll be tempted to because it’s nasty!).



DR was very generous on Friday and spent significant time observing my Urdhva Dhanurasana and making adjustments and suggestions to help me eventually stand up.

I did three Urdhva Dhanurasana, pretty lame backbends, actually *cringe*. But I walked my hands in and tried to go as deep as I was capable of (I was hot and tired at that point, and a smidge disoriented, being a new place, not knowing exactly what was expected of me). On the third Urdhva Dhanurasana, DR helped me bring more weight into my legs, but I wasn’t able to stay here for long and came down.

I decided to try just one more and DR sat down in front of my legs and pulled me forward, encouraging me to press down into my heels and engage my legs fully. My quads and calves were burning! I came down when my strength literally gave out.

What I learned: I need to be stronger! If I don’t press down through my feet, my legs are not going to engage the way they need to in order for me to stand up from a backbend. I really do need to keep my heels pressed to the floor!

DR said something that made perfect sense to me: He talked about shifting the centre of gravity forward over the feet. This resonates with me because it’s the way I approach Sirsasana. I’m really not *that* strong in Sirsasana, but I can manipulate gravity like nobody’s business! That’s why the half-bend is no big deal and I can lift my legs easily into the pose.

I’m very tall (nearly six feet) and though I’m not heavy, I’m awkward - the same way a big, long mattress is awkward! I could be in wrong in this, but I think my height makes it harder for me. Shifting the centre of gravity is going to be key because there’s ‘so much of me’ to stand up!

Last night, I worked on ‘research poses’ in the evening. I’ve started back to Maehle’s Lolasana exercise because I really want to nail those jumpbacks (I’m SO close!). But I’m also working on strength and endurance in my backbends.

I set a timer and repeated Urdhva Dhanurasana with one-minute holds. In between each one, I did a modified bridge pose for one minute, working on engaging my legs actively until I felt the same ‘burn’ I was getting with DR’s adjustment. When I finished, my legs were all wet-noodle-y. This morning, my quads felt fine, but my calves were a little sore.

The cool thing is, I was getting to the point where one minute felt comfortable in Urdhva Dhanurasana and my breathing became smooth and deep. In a day or two, I want to bump up the hold time! I would love to get to the point where I feel this ease while backbending at the Shala.


Anonymous said...

Kai - am also going through agonies of LH so my commiserations. I too dislike this time of month intensely.

Thanks for the neti pot 'recipe'. I will try it and report back. One question re the oregano oil you referred to earlier in that segment - do you take that orally? If yes, how much?

Again, really appreciate it.

Tara said...

I love the neti pot as well! I hated it the first time I tried it because it reminded me of getting water up my nose when I swim, but now I love it. I don't do it regularly but it's now my first line of defense whenever I start to feel my nose get a little stuffy. I've never tried using anything but warm sea salt, but I'll give your mix a try when the time calls for it! Thanks for posting it :-)

Arturo said...

dear Kai
i didn't realize you were tall. that's cool. i haven't developed the passion you have for the neti pot. i do like nasya oil for when i get a cold. it may have some of that grapeseed oil but i'm not sure.

i've been saying to myself while in UD, "now walk the hands in". but it's only comfortable after i have done some backbending poses. if it is after only primary, nothing in this pose feels comfy.

after walking the hands towards the feet, i still have not felt that shifting of gravity to the legs or the slight lift of the hands off the mat that signify you're going to go up. i try rocking back and forth but i'm still there. hope it happens soon for you and for me.


Kaivalya said...

I take the oregano oil orally, 5 drops in a small glass of water. It burns going down but that only lasts a few seconds.

The 'water up the nose' feeling diminishes as soon as you breath deeply through the mouth, I find. It's just a matter of getting used to it too.

Me too! I hope we both have success with our backbending. I don't know if my height is a handicap, but it sure feels that way!