Thursday, December 30, 2010

I feel like a pancake!

Just to be clear, I'm not 'quitting' Astanga. Not permanently. Not yet.

I'm taking a break from the practice while my shoulder heals. My shoulder is in bad shape. When an injury starts to limit activity in my day-to-day life, I pay attention. Even removing most vinyasa from my Astanga practice was not easing the pain.

No, I haven't gone to see a physio about this. The physio would just tell me to stop doing stuff that makes my shoulder hurt. Like Chaturanga. And Adho Muhka Svanasana. I knew this already, I was just in denial. I need to rest my shoulder.

The 26 poses taught in Bikram's beginners' class are easy on the shoulder joints. There's no vinyasa, there's no deep binds that internally rotate the arm.

So I signed up for 30 days at Hot Central. When my contract is up, I'll return to home practice for the month of February. In March, I'm travelling to see my teachers for a week or two. If the shoulder injury is still an issue, D&J will help me with it.

In the meantime, there are far worse places to be during a Canadian Winter than a hot, hot room. I have three words for you: Radiant. Heat. Flooring. It's like lying on a beach, except you're working very, very hard. ;-)

I didn't make this decision lightly. A few years ago, I had a VERY bad experience with Bikram's Yoga which turned me off of the practice.

My current experience has been very positive. I asked around and heard great things about Hot Central. The studio is modern and spacious. The changerooms are clean and sparkling. The practice room has wood floors which are kept spotlessly clean.

The instructor for my very first class is also an Ashtangi! He predicted that 30 days in the hot room would clear up the pain in my shoulder. So far, he's right: I have full pain-free range of motion and I can use my right arm again.

So, how do I *really* feel about Bikram's Yoga?

Actually, I feel like a PANCAKE! In the seated portion of this practice, Savasana is taken between every. single. pose. Flip! Flip! Flip! If there were tanning lamps on the ceiling, I would be getting a VERY even tan. Every 30 seconds, I'm flipping myself over to rest or to take another pose.

I'm also feeling my quadriceps. And my calves. And my hip flexors. I scoffed at the idea that I might get sore from a Bikram's class, but my legs ached for the first few days. I'm intrigued with the emphasis on leg strength in this practice and heartened by the abundant opportunities for backbending. I may not be doing Urdhva Dhanurasana, but I'm doing hang backs, Bujangasana, Ustrasana and Shalabasana. For what it's worth, my legs are getting stronger and that can only help my backbending.

My holiday from Astanga also includes this perk: Sleep! Apparently, Bikram Yogis don't dig pre-dawn practice. The earliest available class is from 9:30-11. As much as I enjoy the energy of early mornings, it makes better sense for me to stay up later and get some work done at night, then sleep later in the mornings.

This could be fun :-D

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Grimmly said...

Welcome back Kai!
So Bikram then, sounds smart for the shoulder, be interesting to hear how that works out. Not surprised at the aching legs, might bare fruit when you come back to Ashtanga, all the squats in Vinyasa krama seem to have been good for my dropbacks etc.
Look forward to hearing more from the hot room.
Happy new year!

Claudia said...

You make me laugh with the "pancake" analogy, funny... That is a brave decision and a really good one, just the thought of the heat feels good on my shoulders and I am not even in the class.. as per the tanning lamps, if they were not so bad for the skin that would be a great idea, get two things done at once!

I hope you shoulder heals soon, and it sounds like it is all working. Enjoy the last day of the year.

cmueenashtangi said...

Welcome back, I've missed your posts!

I also did Bikram for a while and liked it for a while too. It's really tough on the legs, but finally I missed the all-roundness of Ashtanga and I also got sick of the militancy and/or carelessness of the teachers where I practised. What I loved about it though, was the wonderful surge of happiness and good feeling I got a couple of hours post practice - so strong that I often felt like going right back to do another round of it. Hope it'll work out for your shoulder and that you're enjoying it in the meantime!

The Misanthropic Yogini said...

Hooray for change! Sounds like a great way to let the shoulder heal and work your body in a different way. I've always been curious about Bikram, but never brave enough to step into the heat (hot rooms give me headaches). Please enlighten us as you venture forward into the heat of the Bikram jungle. Happy new year and happy healing!

Claudia said...

Hi Kai, how strange I thought I had posted a comment earlier, maybe it did not get to go in :-( in any event, I liked your article, twitted it too. Happy new year