Sometimes it pours…

And here we are just chugging right along. Vatayanasana could be awhile. That shit is hard!!

Just when I thought it might never happen…

Once again I prove to myself that my body is capable of things I once thought impossible. Yesterday I got nakrasana. This was the longest I have ever worked on a posture; Mayurasana was a toughie! I’m not one of those waifish yoga women without too much lower body to lift!

Mark Darby, photo from Ashtangapictureproject.com

Mark Darby, photo from Ashtangapictureproject.com

All Is Coming (back)

Yesterday I was given mayurasana. That means I am now back to the last pose I was working on before I left for India last year. It feels like an accomplishment. For me it represents some kind of victory. A victory over myself, over my habitual negative thoughts and behaviours. My dedication to my practice defies many things I’ve always thought to be true about myself, such as being lazy and a quitter. It has been extremely challenging getting my practice back after the lengthy hiatus I took after Mysore. When I got back to my mat in May I couldn’t get through the vinyasas of primary series. Urdhva dhanurasana was incredibly uncomfortable and drop backs were a fantasy. My bandhas were non-existant. I’m still not back to where I was in terms of strength and flexibility, but it’s coming. Slowly and with effort, it is coming.

Beginner’s Body

I finally did it! I went back to practice yesterday. Back to who I think of as “my people.” It felt amazing. My new shala is lovely. I’ve visited before when on vacation here in my new home, so I knew it was a good fit already. I was pretty concerned about what my body was going to be capable of because if I’m completely honest I haven’t properly practiced (beyond a few sun salutations) in about two and a half months. I’ve never gone that long without practicing in the years I’ve been doing yoga, even before my mysore days. I’ll tell you my two take-aways from the long slog that was my practice. One: primary series is physically demanding, which you lose sight of when it’s just something you do everyday. Two: the body remembers. Urdhva dhanurasana felt horrific, so I didn’t attempt to stand up for drop backs just yet. I was weak and stiff (for me) but I got through all of primary with the only modification being no arms through in garbha. That’s not bad at all. It’s going to be a long road back, I think, but I’m sure I’ll get there and I’ll have fun doing it. Man oh man, those one million vinyasas may kill me in the meantime! I am so sore today! It’s a serious struggle to lift my arms! I guess this is a good reminder of what it’s like in the beginning; it’s hard! If you don’t think you have an ego about your practice, take a few months off and try going back. It’s humbling. I saw people doing intermediate and was slightly envious, thinking of how I once did those poses with relative ease. Now I’m giggling through the terrible jump throughs/backs (my core strength/bandhas have gone to shit) and trying to hold uth pluthi for more than five fast breaths. Regardless of my struggles, I am so happy to be back with the cult! 😉

Now to retrain myself for the early mornings. That’s a whole other challenge!

Return!

Gone a long while! To say I felt uninspired to write about my experiences in the last very long time would be an understatement, but here I am. Since I last wrote I have been on a four month travel adventure, which included seven weeks in Mysore with Sharath, and I have also moved across the country. Big changes. Another understatment. I’ll be starting practice at my new shala on Monday, so I’ll have more to report from the mat then. It’s been a long while since I’ve practiced. The post-trip depression hit me hard and I’ve been neglecting some important things, but I’m looking forward to being back where I belong. Perhaps I’ll try to share some of my experiences in Mysore during the upcoming week as well. It was pretty special. 🙂

Shock and pride

I landed it! It’s an amazing surprise, but after these months of trying and trying I have finally managed to land my lotus on my arms and karandavasana is mine! It seems quite a crazy thing to be trying to do, really. It was little bit by little bit and it was hard. I guess you’re not really supposed to be proud in these moments, but I’m human and I am. Monday I will be starting mayurasana! One thing I love about this practice is that you never know what you’re going to be capable of doing with diligent and consistent practice. I love that it breaks down the pre-conceived ideas you have about what your body can do. You constantly evolve both physically and mentally. You can’t help but let it change you, and I see nothing but positives that it has brought to my life. My husband has now been coming for about two and a half months. We’ve recently changed to a new shala, opened by two of the assistants at AYO who have struck out on their own. It’s been lovely so far. It’s a beautiful space and I look forward to helping grow this new little community.

Patience and lessons

I have been plagued by so many injuries the last little while. Between my messed up knees, my SI joint constantly popping out of place, a badly bruised foot, my smasming piriformis, and blah blah blah I’ve been struggling a lot. I think I’m finally on the mend and I’ve been doing straight up primary (modified to accommodate my mess of a body) with no drop backs for the last week. I think the magic of primary is working and I’m starting to feel better. I’m actually able to start putting my right leg into half lotus for the fist time in over a month. It requires a lot of patience for me, but at the same time I’m finding it soothing. It sometimes feels nice to take care of yourself, to be a little more forgiving and gentle. These aren’t easy things for me. Ashtanga has taught me a lot, and it has definitely brought into sharp focus mant things about my personality, such as my A-type drive and perfectionist tendancies. I don’t bring this out in every aspect of my life, in fact I can be a seriously lazy slacker sometimes, but on my mat I push and I really give it my all every day. I don’t mean that in a braggy sort of “look how hard I work” way. It has actually been a negative, like the pushing and not listening to the feedback from my body. And here I am, injured again. I really struggle with the fine line between “sensation”, which it’s ok to breathe through, and the kind that is actually hurting me, leading to injury. I guess it’s going to continue to be trial and error, sorry body! Part of the problem is that I love asana! It’s so fun to push the body to do things you never imagined yourself capable of! Before this round of knee problems, I was actually making progress on karandavasana. I could get my legs into lotus (and then fall onto my butt), something I absolutely never thought I’d do. I’m mourning the fun a tiny bit, in all honesty, because the process of healing isn’t so much of that. It is giving me the opportunity to work on my jump backs/throughs, though! I don’t think I’ll ever be someone with one of those effortless floaty practices, but I work on it anyway.

In other news, I put in a request for my leave of absence from work for MYSORE! My plan has been to go for the month of November with a few others from my shala, then travel for two months, including a few week stop in Goa to practice with Rolf. My leave is approved, but the dates were denied. I’m planning to appeal the decision, but I may have to do some readjusting of my plans and go later. It’s a bit intimidating to go on my own for the first trip though, and I’m afraid of not making friends and being lonely. Is this silly? Regardless, I’m committed to going to India this winter at some point and I’m very excited about it. Stay tuned for updates, and if you know nice people who are going and would like to hold my hand through the experience, please put us in touch!

 

And I’m back, with karandavasana in tow

Hi blog readers! It’s been an extended absence on my part, but that is not due to an absence from my practice, let me assure you. It has been a very busy 2013 so far, both on and off my mat. There was a trip to Austin for a week and the accompanying opportunity to practice with another ashtanga community and a weekend with David Robson at my home shala shortly after (perhaps more on those experiences another time). I have somehow managed to overcome my crippling fear of pincha mayurasana and am now actually able to get the pose my first or second try most days (don’t picture it as looking anything like this, imagine something much more graceless). I’ve had more struggle with this pose than any other, I think. I’m not a comfortable inverter, so that was the first in a long list of obstacles. Not an easy asana, by any stretch, but I have had some excellent help. I am starting to get the correct exit from the pose, although only my right arm does chaturanga so far. Today my teacher gave me karandavasana. This one is a doozy. With all the knee/hip issues of the past few months (another story for another time) there is no way I’m getting into lotus without help. My teacher left me to it, and I did try twice to get myself into lotus, but I fell after the first leg. I waited and today’s assistant came and did it with me. I know this was my first time doing it, but I am having trouble imagining a time when it will be possible without someone doing all the hard stuff for me. What muscles do you even engage to get and stay down there?! It just seems bizarre and coming up is disorienting. It could be years in the making, but I am stubborn and determined.

On a long overnight shift right now. Another five and a half hours left here until I head to practice, when I’ll be trying the insanity that is karandavasana again. Have a wonderful week!

The hard stuff

In brief, pincha is really hard. Have I said this already? Likely.  Regardless, it is so true. Pincha is my favorite kind of asana challenge, both physically and mentally difficult. I haven’t had this fear response to a pose since learning drop backs, when I would feel sick every morning before practice knowing I would have to try to do it later. I’m not at the sick point (I hope this indicates some kind of progression in my ability to cope with this kind of thing) but I am definitely all up in my head about the whole asana. To use the wall, to not use the wall? The training wheels are so tempting but I know that’s not the way to really get into the juicy stuff, the fear. It’s also ultimately only teaching me to do pincha with a safety net, so I don’t really need to find my balance point because the wall will catch me. I also know I’ve been using it as an excuse to not confront the slight panic I feel about doing the pose in the middle of the room. Today I did it with the tough love assistance of our Wednesday teacher. It was ok. I flipped over once and I didn’t die. In fact, it didn’t even hurt. Will this help me when I go to put my forearms on the mat tomorrow morning? We’ll see. Pincha, you will not defeat me.

Barfing, practicing, and dreaming

It’s amazing how time flies by. I didn’t realize how long it had been since I’d posted!I had an evil stomach bug last week and only did Sunday and Friday practices. It was a rough four days in between! We’re currently having a snowstorm here, so I didn’t make it to led this morning because of transportation issues. I was kind of sad to miss it, especially because I can’t make it up with Saturday mysore this week, thanks to work.

Practice has been fun this week. I think I am making minimal progress on pincha, but I’m enjoying the challenge of it. Lots of little aches and pains to contend with this week. Tight hips are not helped by this cold weather (and the AYO room is not nearly warm enough for me!), so leg behind head poses are a bit of a struggle, especially dwi pada. I don’t think I’m any closer on the final tittibhasana. How the heck do you keep your balance while you sort out where all of your parts are supposed to be situated?! Kapotasana has also been a bit of a struggle lately. Just when I thought I had it, how typical. I guess I’m kind of used to being split now, but there are still days when I would rather do primary. The thing about primary is that you can back off if needed. You can still be doing the pose, but make it less physically taxing. In intermediate, the poses are a different sort. Just to be in some of them is a huge challenge and they are sort of all or nothing (think dwi pada). Maybe this is just me?

I got my MRI results back and things aren’t great. No tear (yay!) but four other issues. I understand two- I have tendonitis and fluid build up in my knee. There was also something about my patella and he said it was chronic and degenerative (boo!). My doctor is pretty crap at explaining things and summed it up by telling me it was too complicated to Google and that he’d refer me to the sports medicine clinic. I’m waiting to hear from them so I can figure out what the next step will be.

In other news, my husband has quit being a stay-at-home ashtangi spouse and started to join the fun! He’s coming on Sundays, as of two weeks ago. It’s been exciting for me, but I’m trying to restrain my enthusiasm for fear of putting him off! He enjoyed last week, and I hope he’ll catch the fever and next thing he’ll be planning yoga trips with me. Fingers crossed!

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