Denting the Floor

September 14, 2014

The private physiotherapy is almost over, it’s done it’s work in giving me back around 90% of my left shoulders range of motion. The strength is going to take a while longer. The last couple of weeks I’ve begun to feel it in my practice, primary feels (relatively) comfortable again for the first time in 18 months, I just need to find a bit more strength for the Bakhasana jump backs, but I can bind everything.

Strength is coming back in places, Bekhasana has gone from struggling to keep hold of the foot as Louise assists me to now being able to put downward pressure on the left foot as she lifts my chest. Urdva Dhanurasana on a dry surface I’m beginning to be able to walk my hands in, a combo or ROM and strength returning.

Dropbacks are still erratic, last week I crashed on my head, quite a bang, T next door stopped to see if I was conscious! This week I landed safely four times without denting the floor. At the Shala, in the heat and energy I’m a spent force by the time I get to backbends, so once I land I’m stuck, I can’t walk in and rock as I do at home, not to mention the saturated mat my hands are sliding on. I still live in hope of standing up by my Standupversary.

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Philosophy group lunch

Our monthly Yoga Philosophy group got through another 10 sutras, this is taking a while, Patanjali may have written a sequel by the time we get to the end!

The local Shala is running a trial the next two weeks, 3 mornings of early morning Mysore to see if there is enough demand, my only concern is the temperature, nothing compares to AYL in this country and at 6:30am as autumn feels like heading towards winter yoga in thermals doesn’t appeal.

No cake, no prana.

August 27, 2014

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The way I spent the half century day and some of the people who shared parts of it with me.

I hit the half century today, as usual on my birthday I practiced at the Shala. How many 50 year olds can even see their feet, let alone put them behind their head, yes I love doing Supta K.

Although I did regular led primary classes it wasn’t until I was 43 that I was forced to take the plunge into Mysore style, I couldn’t do Mari D, Supta K was for bendy people and backbends didn’t even enter my head, though I watched (bad drishte) people perform them. My practice as DK noted has come a long way, second series me? Well 7 years after my first Mysore class I can do Mari D and Supta K and am on Bhekasana in 2nd, I had no idea 7 years ago what second series even was.

I went to Mysore at 47 and stood up from a dropback for the first time, now we were in the realms of fantasy.

So back to my birthday practice, which was nicely punctuated by people wishing me Happy Birthday in various positions! Practice was followed by yogi breakfast, no shortage of chocolate croissants today.

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Home to a Battenburg birthday cake, “no cake no prana” as someone said!

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The cat cafe

My presents included last weeks outing to the cat cafe, a Bed of Nails mat as well as some yoga tops. Thanks to everyone who wished me happy birthday while I was on my mat, in the Shala at breakfast and closer to home, it’s been fun.

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Couldn’t get a ticket

Pinned, stretched and landed on my head

August 22, 2014

Back to physiotherapy this week seeing a different therapist, my usual one is on vacation. She turned out to be the Physio for the Norwegian women’s rugby team no less, so I was a little apprehensive. Her first words being ” you may find I push a little harder than R”! Eeek!

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This was the advice from my usual therapist!

It was good to do a different treatment, a new perspective , she started off giving me some new exercises, because she said part of the restriction I still have is caused by the thoracic spine being tight, the new exercises are really a warm up for the more intense new stretchy band exercises she’s given me to do at home, but despite being simple movements doing each of the 3 for 30 seconds is incredibly intense. She’s told me to only do them every other day, as I may seize up!

After the exercise lesson it was time to lay down and let her get to work, started with what she called “pinning & stretching”, pushing and pulling down hard on the muscle at the front of the shoulder to “pin” it, then stretching the arm/shoulder backwards against it, immediately beads of sweat form on my head. After this torture it was the usual pushing her palm in to the shoulder to break down any scar tissue and free the joint, but OMG she certainly pushes a LOT harder then R does, I thought R pushed hard, but from the cracks, pops and aching afterwards this was a different level of pushing!

12 hours or so later I flopped my mat down at AYL hoping all the previous evenings thoracic and shoulder opening would give me a super practice, how wrong that was. It was super warm, I had a nice spot near the opening, lots of help but it just didn’t get any easier and ended up being a slog, it’s amazing how much 30 minutes physio wipes me out, that’s the first time I’ve been to the Shala the day after physio, H had to help me do my UD’s, then time to test that thoracic, #1 landed ok, #2 landed just about, #3 Landed on my head! At which point H came over laughing to do assisted dropbacks.

At least I got a space in the Finishing Room this week, a good job I don’t snore as I think I dropped off in Savasana!

Hard graft

August 18, 2014

The backbends are coming back, on a dry (not sweat saturated) mat, I can push up in to Urdva Dhanurasana and on a good day I can even stay up and walk the hands in a little way. Dropping back from standing is becoming a little more consistent, going back straight is making landing on both hands at the same time happen.

Between all the strengthening physio exercises I do and the challenging hands on physiotherapy sessions the arm is getting stronger and gradually getting much better range of motion. The unexpected problem is that little 2 inch scar, on the front of my Pelvis where they took the bone graft, it’s hardly visible. It’s become very sore from being stretched, considering it’s now almost two years since I last did backbends this deep, really stretching open the front of the body again, I’d actually forgotten about that scar, but I sure remember it now!

AYL Shala practice is on Wednesdays this month through necessity , no trains on the weekends. An unexpected bonus with Ruth teaching, assisted by Emma, just like when I was first going to AYL. Surprisingly quiet there, lots of help, especially with my re emerging second series, Ruth is great with Pasasana and Bhekasana, deepest Bhekasana bend since L gave it me. Three nice dropback landings before Ruth sent N over to do assisted ones. At least they let me try on my own now.

The last time I practised with Ruth was just before this years surgery, when I was still struggling, so lovely to get an SMS on the way home from her saying “well impressed with your recovery”.

Fridge Magnet Drishte

August 6, 2014

Drop backs are improving, safe landings are up to 66%, 2 from 3, though i seem to have a habit of landing on my head for the second one. I realised its because I twist to the right as I go back. At the Shala being assisted L or E keep me straight, but home alone after I have followed the line in the ceiling, I start to twist when there’s no line to follow, landing on the right hand first, my head then lands before the left hand has a chance to land.

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Simple but effective!

When I’m dropping back on to my block so I can practice standing up again, I do the same thing, but no longer “Fridge magnet drishte” is the answer, the block is jammed against the wall below the radiator, a line of fridge magnets down the radiator give me something to follow, so I go back evenly. Hopefully the right twist habit will eventually be replaced by a straight drop back.

Maybe the online yoga shops are missing a trick, they should be selling portable drishte lines you can hang from anywhere.

Touch down!

August 3, 2014

At 7am I thought I wasn’t going to even make it to AYL at all, first train cancelled, next 2 “Delayed”, let alone do something I hadn’t done in 606 days in that room.
I Finally arrived an hour later than usual, luckily a spare space between two of yoga breakfast friends.

Nice slow practice after the rush to get there, I really need that Prasarita C assist, the complete opposite movement to the physiotherapy. Getting in there an hour later means the room is even warmer, great for the Marichyasana’s and left to it in Supta K, nodding approval from L as she assisted next door.

A nice squashing in Baddha Konasana. Intermediate is now as good as it ever was, Emma helping my Bhekasana, though my hand slid off, getting the chest lifting assist helps open the upper back for closing.

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Took my time with Urdva Dhanurasana, push up, drop to my head, walk in and push up, my left arm still needs to be able to walk in and rotate a little more,it’s also not quite as straight as the right arm so tends to slide still, but no pain or discomfort, so all good.

Teacher and Assistant both engaged elsewhere gave me the chance to hang back, then realise I was quite open, keep going, keep going, stretch the arms, hands out, TOUCH DOWN. The first dropback in the Shala since the day before I broke my arm 20 months ago. I managed two more, before Emma arrived to do the assisted ones. Standing up probably won’t come until I can walk the hands in another 6-8 inches.

So after thinking I wasn’t even going to get there I left with some unexpected progress. A pity just as I’m getting somewhere at last that next Sunday is Moon day and the rest of August the rail line is closed down. Grrr.

Hits and misses

July 28, 2014

Some days practice is better than others, infinite reasons have a bearing on how it feels, from what and when I last ate, the weather, heat, humidity and if I’m at the Shala with it’s shared energy or slogging away on my own at home.

Yesterday was a Shala day, moon day here was Saturday I’m glad to say, the Shala was quieter than usual, school holidays and Louise being away I guess. The humidity was lower and practice felt easier, mostly left to it by the sub teacher, a steady, focused progress through to Bhekasana in 80 minutes.

Urdva Dhanurasana has progressed quite a lot in the last two weeks, like a growth spurt, from barely being able to lift to now being able to push up, then come down on to my head before walking my hands in a little. My left arm still isn’t straight and I suspect from the outside looking in it all probably looks a little lopsided and mis aligned. I still lack the strength to stay up for long, but up is up and hopefully as I gain strength and the physiotherapy gets me more mobility in the shoulder it should improve.

Last week Louise thought I was going to drop back, her encouraging words made me think I must be near, it’s not the bend, but the landing I’m afraid of, so during the week after playing around and experimenting at home I have managed to land one each day, though my strike rate isn’t good, my head has taken it’s quota. I’ve continued with the method Isa taught me in Lisbon to get a better bend in the upper spine, I’ve started adding in some hip flexor stretches to try and be at least more five to one than ten to two. Nearly 600 days it’s taken to get back to this point, I wrote a post for yogaclicks about “cleaning my window” which was when I discovered just how long it’s been since I did a drop back on my own.

Thought you were going to do it!

July 20, 2014

Thanks to signal failure I got to the Shala late this morning, just one spot left, by the mat cupboard with the wall in front of me. The humid weather meant sweat started running while I put my mat down, let alone before I did a Surya A. Double down dog squashes stretching out the kinks from sitting on a hard floor for a few hours last night. Louise always does my Trikonasana so she stretch my arm out and rotate the shoulder for me, she followed up with Parsvakonasana twist.

Seated is back to being all doable on my own, Inna was waiting behind me as I manoeuvred in to Mari D, but once she saw me bind she left me to it. Bhakasana exits were impossible, the slippy sweat made it impossible to keep my knees on my arms and jump back. Supta K was assisted by someone, it feels like a free pass. All those years of struggle to get my arms through in Garbha are a bad memory, in that heat my arms slip through without any effort.

The Shala had suddenly thinned out when I got to closing, I knew nobody would be waiting to start so I took my time doing Urdva Dhanurasana, the more I do the better they get, after 4 I could push up, though i suspect it’s probably lopsided. I stood up and did a couple of super hang backs, my upper back seemed to be really open today, the second one I could see the ground and was stretching before I pinged back up, Louise was waiting at the top and said “I thought you were going to land, you should have kept going”. It’s only a matter of time. I’ve managed it a couple of times at home, but only with hip flexor failure and ten to two feet. I think Louise was letting go earlier on the way up, I was having to work my legs harder to get back up.

The Finishing Room was rammed full so I ended up back in my spot to close, rare for it to be that way round.

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Spiky balls

Great to see Helen down to the Shala, after practice 5 Ashtangi’s sat around a table in Pret trying out her new Rumble roller and spiky massage balls, we got some strange looks!

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Rumble Roller

Almost straight

July 15, 2014

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Practice has been consistent since my week in Lisbon, doing the new type of dropback without Isa assisting me has been interesting, well it showed just how much she much have been assisting, even if it didn’t actually feel like it at the time. It takes quite a few goes on my own to get the control and bend in the upper back to land on my Bolster and on a good day on to just one layer of blocks.

AYL was beyond a sauna, I thought the early morning rain would cool it down, but it just seemed to make it more humid and sticky. Once inside the heat was tiring, Louise had opened all the top windows but it made no difference. The rivers poured in standing, little waterfalls off my elbows. Some poses are easier when it’s like that, Supta K and Garbha without having to look for the spray bottle. Some are made much harder, Isa had got me doing the Bhakasana exit in Lisbon which I’ve continued, but in that heat my knees just slid off my arms before I had a chance to get my toes and heals together, narrowly avoiding nose splat.

The postures are pretty consistent again now, though with doing all the vinyasas again I’m still not back to the stamina levels I need. Louise usually assists my last pose Bhekasana, when she let go I was wiped. I was hoping the flexibility I had in the heat would let me drop back on my own, but I didn’t have the energy left to control it and was glad when help arrived, the hang backs weren’t bad though.

I think everyone felt the heat, after practice five of us sat round a cafe table, we all had that knackered, spaced out look.

Monday is now physiotherapy day, weekly private physio is much more intense and invasive than a once a month 20min session with the NHS. It’s certainly more effective, she always begins with a session of digging her thumbs in to the back of the shoulder area to loosen it all up before she starts on the front. The scar has healed nicely after all the stitch problems, just as well, as she then pushes her palm harder and harder in to the scar area while at the same time my arm is raised and pushed backwards. Breaking down what scar tissue there is. There comes a point where the arm won’t go any further, it’s not painful, it just won’t go, but each week she seems to get it a little further, my arm is almost straight. She said it’s not just a case that the fracture is fixed and the muscles and tendons are working again, part of the restriction seems to be that the Humeral head and the shoulder bones have ended up closer together, effectively they don’t have as much space as they did pre fracture to move around in. The left has around 80% of the range of motion of the right. Hopefully in the 7 sessions left she will have me functioning again.

A private

July 7, 2014

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The culmination of my week in Lisbon was meant to be the workshop with Dena on Saturday morning, alas Dena’s travel plans were changed at the last minute and it was cancelled. But Isa kindly offered to give a couple of us who had come especially for Dena a private with her, the closest I’ve come to doing a “private” was a few years ago when I was the only one to show up for what turned out to be the last ever Friday night led primary with Easter. I had already learned a lot from Isa and jumped at the chance, it turned out to be 3 of the most informative hours I’ve spent on that old blue mat.

Isa basically took us through a led primary but with stops to show us things and for us to ask questions. Afterwards I tried to write down as much as I could remember,the little nuggets of wisdom that I hope come to mind when I’m back home or at AYL.

Prasarita poses- to put more weight towards the toes, rather than the heals.

Parsvottanasana- wider stance to give more stability

Purvottanasana- visually check to see the hands are parallel and slightly behind before lifting up

Forward bends tilt slightly to be more in line over the straight leg

Janus when entering bring the leg up with the Knee facing up, then hold the foot to put it in lotus, this helps protect the miniscus. Janu A 90 degrees, Janu B 85 degrees.

Marichyasana’s – palms should face outwards once the hands are able to bind at the wrist.

Navasana – hands at same level as knees, for the lift between the head/chin should be up, so the weight doesn’t go so far forward.

Bakhasana – in the exit from Bhuja / Supta K, toes and ankles touch before jumping back. Ok I probably should have known this, but in a Mysore room you tend to get adjusted in the crossings, then left to exit alone. With my arm’s situation I haven’t been trying Bakhasana jump back and if I had would probably have been doing it with just the big toes in contact. I was amazed to be able to jump back with so much control, I was fully expecting nose splat.

Supta K Isa assisted each of us individually, as it was the other persons “last” pose, she can’t bind or cross, Isa did it with me first to show her what it looks like. Deepest Supta K ever before Isa talked me through the exit, lift in Dwi Pada, Titibhasana, my arm isn’t strong enough for a no foot down in to Bhakasana, but got the jump back, as I landed the other student actually applauded!

Baddha Konasana – my thighs go to the floor quite easily, so I needed to use the for arms to press down on the thighs more.

Upavistha Konasana – hold sides of feet, wide legs, arms should be straight, thumb presses between big toe and next one. Pelvis up and over to get chest lower, head to floor! Upavistha up, shoulder blades comes towards each other, look up. Isa actually got my chin on the ground which is something I’ve never done.

Supta Konasana – wide legs, in Mysore and at AYL my legs are always narrow because of the space available, she told us to have them wide which did make the coming up and over seem much easier.

Supta Padangusthasana- chin to leg, opposite hand lower down on thigh, leg to side hand comes higher to press the pelvis down.

Ubhya and Urdva P- to come up with straight legs really press the toes in to the floor on exhale, then inhale to come up, when you get to the point of balance point the toes, this helps to put the brakes on. Shoulder blades move towards each other once balanced. Toes point.

Isa has helped my backbends a lot this week, it really shows how much getting daily assistance can make progress much better. She may be a traditional Mysore teacher, but this week she has had me using blocks to push up every day in to Urdva Dhanurasana, not so much to make the pushing up easier for my arm, but for me to then work towards taking my chest towards the wall and really opening the thoracic spine again from its 15 months of hibernation. The difference has been amazing.

Her method of dropbacks without stretching the arms overhead has also been a huge change, mentally and physically, but once I began to trust the method I really started to feel the difference, I just need to relearn to keep my arm straight for landing. That’s been hard, with my original straight arm dropback the arms were already stretching and ready for touch down, but with this new method of incrementally moving the arms past the ears it’s an extra stage to remember to get them straight in time.

She taught us far more, but those were the points that resonated with where my post injury recovery practice is at this time. Hopefully I will be able to repeat this week with Isa again sometime soon.


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