Tuesday, July 20, 2010


It’s been a rough 24 hours, but somehow I moved through it. I was nauseous and headache-y most of yesterday. I spent the evening sitting around and mostly doing nothing. I barely had the enough energy to walk the dog. I finally went to bed around 8:30, but stared at the ceiling for an hour because I was feeling too uneasy to sleep. At least I got a full night of sleep once I did drift off.

I woke this morning exhausted and I did NOT want to go to the Shala. This is turning out to be a tough week for my practice. I was still feeling the after-effects of the migraine. I was half-tempted to take something for it before I left, but I didn’t because I don’t like to ‘deaden’ my body before I practice. I want to feel everything.

I packed some pain-killers in my shala bag as a compromise (just in case). Then I roused myself with a hot bath and left 15 minutes late.

R asked me how I was feeling as soon as I entered the room. In a whisper, I briefed her on yesterday’s migraine and the lingering ‘hangover’. I wasn’t sure what kind of practice I would have, but it wasn’t too bad. I felt weirdly disconnected from my body for the first half-hour, but I felt the connection re-ignite in Bhujapidasana and it was smooth sailing after that.

I expected backbends to feel yucky and they were - VERY yucky. My quads, hamstrings and arms are still sore from the workshop. But I remembered how I felt yesterday: post-practice, I was regretting the wasted opportunity to really work on this stuff with help from my teachers. I resolved to keep working hard until I heard ‘Chakrasana’, no matter how tired I was.

It was a busy room this morning so I was on my own for all of Urdhva Dhanurasana. After my six ‘static’ backbends, I did some rocking on my own - two sets, actually. Then R walked over to help me with two more. The last time I rocked, my hands actually lifted off the floor and I squeaked in surprise. R laughed and I was giggling as I lowered to the floor.

I think I can see where this is going now. My teachers are taking ‘baby steps’ with me in this rocking thing, gradually bringing more and more of a ‘lift’ to my rocks to get me used to the idea. They’re kind of ‘coaxing’ me into it. A few days ago, just the heels of my hands were lifting up. Now my hands are coming off the floor.

We have lift-off: SQUEAK!

It still feels like they’re doing ALL of the work in the rocks, which is frustrating for me. I’m trying to use my legs, but that body-brain disconnect is an obstacle. I can’t remember what my feet were doing, but I’m almost certain my heels are still lifting!

I’ve been attempting to apply the tips that DR gave me in the workshop. When rocking, I’m trying to straighten my legs a bit as I push back into my arms on the exhalation, so I’m almost ‘springing forward’ on the inhalation, creating an energetic ‘recoil’ and momentum to stand up.

I had a great finishing sequence, a nice long rest and I left the Shala feeling happy.

After I took my hamstring for a walk, I came home and did a one-hour second practice in the afternoon. I worked on hip openers, quad stretches and timed holds in Ustrasana. Then I did some hangback work.

In DR’s workshop, we did hangbacks against a wall, pushing off against it to bring more weight into the legs (with a focus on keeping the hamstrings engaged and the gluteals muscles soft - this was a major theme in the workshop).

I did this same exercise today, but deepened it by walking my hands further down the wall in increments. With each pause, I pushed into the wall and straighened my arms while moving my hips forward (and trying to straighten my legs). I kept walking down until my hands were very near to the floor (at this point, I could feel the burn in my legs). Then come down, rest, repeat!

This was a good opening for my shoulders as well as my hip flexors (I could feel a deep stretch in my front hips as I pushed them forward).

I finished with three sloppy, funky, wide-legged dropbacks. They’re not beautiful, but I really want to keep ‘The Fear’ at bay. This is the best way to keep my brain on board with the whole dropping-back project. I plan to do it every single day.

Gradually, I want to shorten my stance in these dropbacks. I think this will happen naturally as my backbends deepen and my hips open. I also want to slow the drop back and find more of a ‘hangback’. Again, it will come in time. But the main point of these dropbacks is NO FEAR.

I’m happy to report that I dropped back to the Scary Floor without futzing around or worrying about it. If I can build confidence and practice dropping back, the rest will come.

Behold, the Sloppy, Funky, Wide-legged Dropback:


Boodiba said...

Hey your feet stay in one place!

The squeak thing is adorable.

susananda said...

Hey, there is nothing wrong with that dropback! Number one thing though, I would work on bringing your feet in closer, a stance that wide can be unbeneficial in the long run for knees or lower back... apart from that though, at least your feet aren't splaying as you drop, you're getting a good bend in the upper back and then landing with straighter arms.. looks good!

I have the impression that these are difficult for you because you seem to have extremely long legs, making it difficult to get your hips forward?? Or is that just my weird perception... in any case, long-limbed people get there too, it might just explain why you find it frustrating..

I'm glad you're feeling better, and please don't beat yourself up for feeling unwell for a couple of days.

roselil said...

You are just so amazing and inspiring! I am indeed impressed by how you manage not to filter out your bad days or not so great practices from your blog, but continously keep on reporting big and small happenings day by day. You are a fascinating and brave person, I would say! You are truly something very special and a great asset for the cyber shala community - and beyond. Thank you so much!

Grimmly said...

Sorry you've been unwell Kai, glad it seems to be clearing up. Way to go on the dropback, overcoming that fear thing is half the battle. Re the legs I did a dropback on the course (think I was the only one who could) an R asked me if i could do it with my legs together, when I said no way (politely) he just said that he was greedy. Legs together!!!! and he wanted my legs together in Kapo to and pretty much everything else even his Sury is legs together.

Kaivalya said...

The 'plan' is to gradually bring my feet closer together. Yes, I have *very* long legs. Basically, I’m a small person in a very LONG body. If my height matched my shoe size, I'd be tiny! I think that's why the wide stance helps me feel safer. The floor doesn't seem as far away!

Feet together!!!!? No way! I couldn't do it.

Thanks for your sweet comment! It made my day. :-)