On Saturday evening, I unrolled my mat and gave it my best shot. But instead of stopping at the standing, I went right into my 8 Intermediate poses, then did lots of backbending (as much as I had time for) and closing.
It was an interesting practice because it was SO different from my practice 20 days ago. I wasn't in any pain at all! It felt novel and fabulous to practice without the throbbing pain in my shoulder. I could move my arms around without discomfort and the bind in Baddha Padmasana was accessible to me. I also noticed that my body is open in new and different ways.
The biggest boons:
-My hamstrings: The gimpy hamstring is history. I have full flexility back in all forward bending poses, including Parsvottasana and to a certain degree, Krounchasana.
-My neck: It's bendier! Sarvangasana felt awesome and my knees were on the floor in Karnipidasana. I'm going to give credit to Bikram's Sasangasana for that one.
-Balance: ROCK SOLID. I've really gained some mad skillz in this area! I did Uttita Hasta Padangustasana for fun and I didn't fall over once (but I also couldn't hold my leg up at the end (strength FAIL).
Backbends: Urdhva Dhanurasana was not as deep as it was 20 days ago, but I come into it from the floor without shoulder pain and I can stay there endlessly because I'm actually breathing! Deeply! I can feel my lower ribs puffing in and out as I hold the pose.
I could write a whole post about the Bandhas. I thought I would lose my connection to my Bandhas during Hot Yoga Month, but to my surprise, I'm more aware of them. In hot yoga class, there are a few cues that are repeated often. One of them is: 'Suck in your belly!' Each time I heard this, my brain registered: "Oh! You want me to engage my BANDHAS!" And I did. With good results. It's amazing and it makes me want to do it *more*.
Overall, my first Astanga practice in 20 days felt great. I felt all happy and floaty afterward! I was excited to repeat the experiment on Sunday, but alas, it didn't go quite as smoothly. The soreness from Saturday practice was already setting in.
I know what you're wondering and it was on my mind too: what does my gimpy shoulder think about all of this vinyasa-ing? To be honest, I don't know yet, because EVERYTHING about my shoulders hurts right now. I've lost considerable strength. I can still *do* everything I could do before, it's just harder and I tire more quickly. I'm back to following up my practices with long salt baths to sooth my tired upper body.
I practised again on Monday and I was definitely feeling sore. I could detect some sensation in the right shoulder, near the area of the injury, but that's not completely unexpected.
I'm easing off on the Astanga practice for the next few days. This will give me a chance to recover from the initial soreness and get a better sense of the state of my injury and my overall level of fitness for Astanga.
On a mental level, I'm vacillating between elation that I can *do* my practice again and anxiety that the injury will still limit me in significant ways. I'm genuinely worried about my planned visit to D&J's Shala in March. Part of me wonders if I should even bother, given the poor state of my practice. But another part of me is certain that this in itself is a GOOD reason to go: I need the advice of these teachers now more than ever. I need help with alignment to prevent re-injury. I'm certain that D will know what to do.
More than anything else, I want to keep Astanga sustainable over the long haul. I love this practice. I want to return to it and keep doing it in the years ahead. This injury was a good wake-up call: I no longer care if I EVER have floaty jumpbacks. I'll be happy with smooth, efficient, pain-free vinyasa.
I'm scared, but I'm hopeful.
On a lighter note, I have a new 'injury' to report.
Last Saturday, hot class went over by more than 10 minutes and I was at risk of arriving late to my noon class. In my rush to get there on time, I stupidly sprinted across a street and when I stepped onto the sidewalk, I landed HARD on my right knee. I didn't notice anything was amiss until later on in the afternoon when I saw this dark maroon bruise.
The knee is fine and the bruise hasn't affected my practice at all - it's just a surface ache. But it's oh-so-colourful with a new kaleidoscope of hues emerging daily.
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