Re-evaluating

I have always been someone who is pretty self-aware, and I think this has helped me to become the reasonably well-adjusted woman I am today, but sometimes I am reminded that I do not always have the clearest view when judging myself. This came up today when I was reading Paul Gold’s blog post “The Obsessing Ashtangi” (http://paulmitchellgold.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/the-obsessing-ashtangi/), which was an extremely timely piece of writing for me. I have been mentioning over the last six weeks or more that I have been suffering with a number of (minor) injuries, and some of them have improved or healed but not everything. I had just finished practice on Thursday and went to discuss some pain with my teacher and a friend. My left ribs have been bothering me for over a month and have only improved slightly (I can breathe without excruciating pain now). I am unable to jump back/through to/from seated (actually anything involving lifting the lower abdomen like uth pluthi), twists are uncomfortable, back bending poses are painful, and jumping into bakasana is difficult (who am I kidding,  it’s not happening for me yet regardless, but now even trying is painful). I have continued to do my practice, only modifying as absolutely necessary. My friend suggested that the pain is stemming from bending too deeply in my upper back in kapotasana, which makes sense to me. My teacher’s prescription was to stop at laghu and not do drop backs until I heal. While this is the bare minimum of what I should be leaving out, I felt like I had regressed in my practice and it was frustrating. On Sunday, my teacher wasn’t there and I thought about doing my full practice, drop backs and all, regardless. I had been hoping to get eka pada soon, and was angry at myself for telling my teacher about the pain because now I won’t get another pose for a while. But so what? Why does this matter to me so much? Who is paying any attention to which pose I’m working on, besides me? How ridiculous is it that I was willing to hurt my body to get my next pose and what narrative was I buying into that made this ok for me? Looking back, I have definitely approached my practice from the obsessive standpoint that Paul describes. I wouldn’t say I’m a type A personality about everything in my life, but I can be a perfectionist (I’m a virgo, I come by it honestly ;)). The fact that I couldn’t safely manage a lotus when I started mysore practice was a huge hurdle for my ego. I stretched my poor hips endlessly – in front of the tv, at my office, in bed. It didn’t come as quickly as I would have liked and I still don’t have an effortless lotus. There are things in the practice that have come relatively easily but there are things that I have struggled with, as with most practitioners. On an intellectual level I know that the asana is not the point and there are days when this resonates fully and my practice is meditative and lovely (maybe 50% of the time), but I know that I haven’t hushed my ego at all. I have no feelings of competition with anyone but myself but I’m still goal oriented and it is so hard to totally detach from that. I’m thankful for this moon day of reflection and I”m reminding myself of the old adage that Rome wasn’t built in a day. My mysore practice is still new, not quite a year old yet, and I have the rest of my life improve on my imperfect humanity.

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6 Comments

  1. Karen said,

    June 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I don’t think a goal must be to hush the ego.
    Rather, to hear it, see it, and smile knowingly.

    • June 7, 2012 at 10:26 am

      Karen, I agree. It would not be in keeping with human nature to think we can eliminate the ego, but hopefully with time we can simply do as you suggest and not get hung up on it.

  2. artem6 said,

    June 9, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Yeesh, not quite a year and you’re already doing dropbacks and working on kapotasana? That’s quite good actually. Many of us spend years getting to that point. That said, if your ribs are bothering you, is there a chance one could be broken? You might want an x-ray…
    It sure is easier said than done to relax about asana collecting… Eventually nature and old age will begin taking them away anyway. Good luck!

    • June 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      My last pose is ardha matsyendrasana, but that being said, I’m not sure my body was ready to move that far into second yet, considering all my aches and pains of late. I did have a regular non-ashtanga practice before starting on the mysore journey though.
      You’re absolutely right about time and age changing the asana practice, I hope my ego will be able to handle it when that eventually happens! 😉

    • dejana said,

      September 18, 2012 at 6:41 am

      i just got me an intercostal muscle strain either in chakrasana or mari d (with adjustment) and have not breathed with full lungs for 4 weeks. super painful. same problem- obsessing ashtangi!
      we learn through injuries. all the best.

      • September 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm

        It turned out I had popped a rib, so consider getting it checked out. I saw a good chiropractor. Not the nicest way to learn!


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