Archive for July, 2010

Back on the horse

July 25, 2010

I’m still here, mainly thanks to those who took the time to comment, e-mail or text me over the last week, it was a very dark place. So Thank you all.

I still don’t know what the answer to all this is, but I remain more convinced than ever that yoga is part of the solution and not the problem, though perhaps its prominence in my life needs to be tempered by something else. I need my practice even more at times like this, but its mentally even harder to do that first Surya A, let alone what follows when all you want to do is give up and sleep.

Eventually a tiny eeny weeny chink of light appears, I’m sure it was something someone said, a trigger that I am the only one who can help me climb out of this hole. Practice resumed with a session along to Kino’s dvd, its fast pace made it easier to be absorbed in the practice, it stopped the mind being able to go off doing its own thing. It was what I needed, someone telling me what to do, making me concentrate fully to the point that I picked up on a comment she makes about rotation in the hip during Janusirsasana A. Eventually it has to be self driven and Friday nights practice was a standing and other stuff.Practice on Saturday’s has been rare the last month or so, but I got home from shopping , the house was quiet and I just decided to practice, it was sloooow, two and half hours nearly, no faffing, well not much, but ended with a load of backbends and some dropbacks, though my wrist wasn’t as appreciative as my mind was.

So last Sunday all seemed wrong, not to mention pointless and was the catalyst for the dark depressive spiral that almost made me take my mats into the garden and put a match to them. The last week has made me think about why I get up and slog into the city to practice at the Shala, the heat, shared energy and wonderful vibe, I accept I do not have right to adjustment, but I do need teaching, practising home alone all the time it’s all too easy to develop habits and ways of doing postures  which are not only wrong but could be a recipe for future injuries. Injuries seem to have been part of this year and the frustrations they have brought have definitley not helped, a feeling that my practice has been held back by them.

So practice today with Jen to my right and Susan to my left, comfort  in friends, a big smile from J as I put my mat down, a feeling of being back in my space in a mental sense, starting again, forget last week, practice for now in this time in this place. A hot very sweaty practice, with a teachers tweek here and there and deep squishings in Mari A and Baddha Konasana. Much stronger Urdva Dhanurasanas before doing a dropback in this Shala on my own for the first time since April, it wasn’t a great landing, I have lost the knack of aiming my hands, its still about just getting down safely. C then appeared in front of me for the cross arm thing and one assisted dropback, she let go early as she brought me back up, but somehow I managed to engage whatever it is and continued to rise and not fall back,  I got to the top to see her beaming grin, now I feel like my teacher is back.

This afternoon has been fun, yogis picnic in the park, met people I havn’t seen in quite a while and played Frisbee and Rounders for the first time probably since I left school.  If last Sunday was a one, this Sunday was ten.I Just hope Eeyore’s cloud is leaving my head.

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Not as good today.

July 18, 2010

The day didn’t start well, the train was late and I was doing mental calculations about if I could get to the Shala in time or need to bail out to AYL, I have an “app” now at least which tells me which tube lines are working, though I now have some other distractions on my new iphone 🙂 , I loaded some music and have my favourite “Bejewelled” game, the only “app” I have paid for so far! The tube gods were on my side, though I did a lot of sprinting, finally got to the Shala at 8.15 puffed and stressed.

My hamstrings were not impressed with all those Surya forward bends after the running, I was glad when they were done, I prefer to stretch out gradually in Padahastasana. Despite there only being 4 others doing practice I actually got very little assistance or adjustment today, maybe after 7 weeks she is still seeing where I am, but usually she is on my case for something. UHP assist was quite gentle, the only other assist was my hand position in Parvakonasana.

Practice began to feel like wading through treacle, a heavyness that wasn’t there yesterday, I noticed my jump backs were not as strong, but after a deep assist in Mari A I again managed to bind all the others. Maybe my Supta K does pass muster these days, I felt her watching but no intervention, its funny but I had been looking forward to her new assist that has been the Shala talk this week, but she left me to my own devices. I just had that feeling of wanting it done after Supta K. The good old bum balances are improving, I’m still rubbish at the coming up and over part, but once up, my legs are beginning to straighten, I think Ubhaya now looks mostly like it should.  After yesterday’s nice assist in my new asana Pasasana, I was hoping help would arrive today, I am beginning to balance a little better and my fingers are oh so close, I just can’t twist that smidge more and keep the balance to bind my own fingers, but again no help was forthcoming, I am beginning to wonder if I have done something to upset her.

How can 2 days be so different, Urdva Dhanurasana was soo bloody hard today, the first one was virtually straight up and down but I managed 3 more and tried to walk in, then stood up and did hangback experiments hoping that my back would release that bit more as it did yesterday and allow for a dropback, I could see the floor, but I just didn’t feel open, and alas again no help arrived until I was in Paschimottanasana.

At least I did practice, that’s 5 full ones in the last 6 days, so I am keeping the consistency. I know my practice is far from perfect and could be so much  better, but I do wonder about the sense in buying train tickets and paying for practice when I don’t get any help, especially with Pasasana and backbends, I appreciate when its busy, but today there were only 4 of us.

Bonus practice

July 17, 2010

An unexpected bonus practice with Cary this morning at TY, as she stood in for Ryan. The strange thing about this class is that people are in the room anything up to an hour before the official 9am start time. Some people do their practice, others are warming, but it was only about 9.15 when the guy next to me finished and left the room, I can’t quite see the point of paying TY’s prices and not staying for any teaching or adjustment.

Not very much adjustment today, even though Cary had an assistant, I knew it was Cary when I got adjusted in Prasarita C though, my shoulders have not been that far over in 7 weeks and she’s the only one who keeps me there for about 10 breaths, she also knows to grip my hands to stop the fingers flying apart.

It was actually a great practice, all the seated poses were more open, all the Mari’s bound, I saw the assistant watching me, but once she saw I bound “D” she went off. A decent Bhuja and then into my favourite Supta Kurmasana. After all the talk about Cary’s new Supta K assist I was waiting for it, to be splatted down with my feet locked, but it never came, I stayed in the pose just in case, but then decided it was time to go and exited. After practice I mentioned to Cary that I had been expecting her new sooper dooper assist, she said “you didn’t get it because you can do it!” Though we laughed about how its not everyones favourite posture!

A couple of nice assists from the assistant, sorry don’t know her name, but a really nice Baddha Konasana and then help to bind Pasasana, though she did put my yogitoes mat under my feet, wonder if I will get away with doing that tomorrow back on Cary’s home turf!

For some reason my back wasn’t as open this morning as it was at home last night, even though I had arrived at TY early and done some Ustrasana and Salabhasana’s  before we started, but 4 Urdva Dhanurasana’s wasn’t bad going, so it was then decision time, I started off hanging back and going down the wall, I still had a bolster from my pre practice warm up, so decided to lay it lengthways and try some proper dropbacks at a Shala for the first time since AYL in April, I managed 4, not particularly great ones, but done without assistance, just as well, as none materialised, though I have no doubt she will go through her full repertoire tomorrow!

It was great to practice with “my” teacher again, having a break from them makes you appreciate them all the more, not that those who covered were not great, but there is a special connection and understanding with ones own teacher. She is also now aware of my Mysore plan, I’ve told my teacher now, she thinks it’s a great plan, it really has to happen.

I did a mental calculation while in Savasana, during the week I spend about 35% of my non working waking hours on a 6ft long sticky mat!

Accidental return of dropbacks!

July 16, 2010

April 11th was the last time I did an unassisted dropback, the week before my wrist went haywire, 3 long months ago. I was beginning to fear them or the thought of them and the possible consequences of a dodgy landing on my poor left wrist. Practice has been better every day since Monday, my lower back is much happier, I have done full primary Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and the last 2 practices I have had much better attempts at Urdva Dhanurasana and done a bit of hanging back and walking down the door.

This evening I decided on a shorter practice, up to Marichyasana C, then some deeper backbend experiments, you know all those things that I officially don’t know how to do! A couple of crap UD’s then some better ones, pushing up and managing to walk the hands in a little.Time for some hang backs, crank, something opens a notch further than last night, I am much further down the door, well below the handle, after a few goes I go back to my mat with the intention of hanging back just to see how much of the mat will come into view, the answer quite a lot, on the second attempt I suddenly find that gravity has taken over and I have passed the point of no return, somehow I manage to get my arms straight and land the hands just before my head, dazed but happy. What now? I decide to try and do an intentional one, the mind is different when you intend getting to the floor, you are consciously looking out for the point of no return, though this time I had my arms straight and ready from higher up and managed to land safely. I am back to the stage of just getting down in one piece, I need to get back to consciously aiming my hands towards my feet to get the deeper bend, but one step at a time.

A sudden opportunity for a double practice this weekend, C is guesting at TY tomorrow morning, I have missed her teaching these 7 weeks while she has been in Mysore, she has this way of bringing the best out of my practice.

More consistent at night

July 15, 2010

If consistency is a measure then it seems evenings are the way to go, I have done a full practice Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday and half primary on Monday. Last nights practice began to the accompaniment of thunder and lightening crashing outside, by the time I finished it was dark.

Although I did it all it seemed to take more effort to drag myself through the vinyasas, it was a cooler evening too which meant poses where a bit of sweat helps like Supta K were not as deep as I know they can be. My lower back is getting better, I tried taking longer in Upward Dog to try and let it release and relax, which was good for my back but meant it took me 70 minutes to get to Navasana. I am going to have to seriously speed up at the Shala on Sunday, otherwise Cary will have locked up long before I get anywhere near finishing.

I decided to add back in Pasasana and some hang backs, first side of Pasasana was very uncomfortable on the lower back, it was always the worse side anyway, the second side does not seem to have regressed and feels ok, though alas not bound. Hangbacks after Urdva Dhanurasana need time, not the semi smooth hinge feeling, more like something cranking open notch by notch.

Back to evenings

July 14, 2010

The World Cup is over and I seem to have defaulted back to my normal evening practice routine. I did get up at 5:45am on Monday, having had the Sunday Moon day off, but my back was so rigid, I ended up going only to Prasarita, then some hip openers and other stuff before abandoning to Savasana. Having done a month of morning practice I have had to conclude that the evenings are better for me, the mornings did have the advantage of an empty stomach, quiet mind and the satisfaction of having done a practice, it served a purpose. But the counter points were the stiffness, having to rush, mentally knowing the seated postures in particular could be so much better and my nemesis at present Backbends. Over the month the backbends never got going, I didn’t have the time to open up my back and they became a trial of mind over body, culminating in trying to do backbends for 30 minutes at night and straining my lower back with the block experiment.

Monday evening I decided to practice at 8pm, my lower back is improving, it ended up being a very slow and deliberate practice, it lasted nearly 2 hours, but I still only got to Bhujapidasana. I was hoping all those vinyasas would bring some movement or at least ease into my lower back, but no, so I ended up doing little bridges and the rest of closing, but it was nice to practice without the pressure of time.

Not finishing practice until nearly 10pm meant I slept through any dreams of morning yoga on Tuesday, I almost even missed breakfast. Last night I started at 7.30 with the intention of going to Bhuja again and to try and do more backbends. In the Surya’s I began to notice that although my back was aching in Upward dog, that when I came up into Downward, that if I came up more on my toes, then planted my feet this seemed to release my back. My lower back doesn’t seem to like the first side of Trikonasana, though it does all the others including the revolved versions? I seemed to get to Navasana quite quickly, even binding all the Mari’s, Bhuja came and I just decided to keep going, figuring I need to get a few Supta K’s in before Sunday, Cary is back from Mysore and is rumoured to have a new Supta K adjustment! Not having done one since Saturday it wasn’t very deep, but it was bound, so alls good.

So we come to backbends, time for a bit of extracaricular Salabhasana and Ustrasana, before doing Urdva Dhanurasana for the first time in nearly a week, Skippetty’s pancake anaology was right, the first 2 are crap, then they get better, but at least I did them, even if I couldn’t walk my hands in much.  There is a temptation, well there is for me to do Paschimottanasana and then Savasana after backbends, it takes a mental effort to go through the shoulderstand sequence, then Sirsasana on my sunburned head etc before finally the joy of Savasana, a well deserved Savasana. Another 2 hour practice, but at least it was a complete practice, done without rushing.

What a lovely way to spend a summers day

July 11, 2010

One of those truly lovely days, yoga, food, good  company, sunshine, floating, yes even I can float, the one whose swimming efforts have about as much chance of succeeeding as a 1 ton lump of concrete. Started the morning at TLC, despite my very aching lower back I managed a reasonable Primary series, lots of nice adjustments from Philippa in the forward bends helping to stretch my back out in a gentle way. I was a little worried when only 4 people started that my back would get over adjusted, but it actually turned out to be the best thing for it. I needed help in Mari C & D, twisting into the lower back wasn’t wonderful, but Supta K rocked surprisingly, legs behind head lift out, even a genuine attempt at Titibhasana, Bakasana, jump back, splat, teacher laughs, I just pant for breath. Backbends were a non event, a few bridges and one awful attempt at pushing up into Urdva Dhanurasana no way a step too far, really glad when P squished me flat in Paschimottanasana. Despite my back I was glad I practised, just the right way to start my day.

Fruit stall

Granola Stall- much more my type of delight

Hopped the tube across to Borough where the rest of our day was going to happen, scorching sunshine, so nice to walk around London in shorts and a T-shirt, wandering around looking for post yoga brekky, Maria’s Cafe supplying just what I needed, before being joined by Mel and Susan in the Cathedral Garden.

Picnic in the Cathedral Garden

The reason for meeting up south of the river was for our appointment at Floatworks, something we had talked about doing and then thought why not. The blurb promises stress relief, relaxation, help with injuries among other things. Down in the bowels of this non descript building we are shown to our individual orange flotation tanks, they come with an inflatable headrest, earplugs, spray bottle in case you get salt in the eyes, a light, lid control and a panic button.

Flotation Tank

Years ago I floated in the Dead Sea in Jordan, all I remember is being cold and the stinging sensation where the salt found open cuts, taking the obligatory photo and getting the hell out. This was a very much better experience, once laying flat you press the button to close the lid, having a light on is optional, music plays for 10 minutes, then silence ensues for the next 45. I started off with the head rest, but my head kept hitting the top, so I abandoned that and decided to try and trust, laying back slowly so as not to splash water in my eyes, I’m floating its a weird sensation in not much over a foot of water filled with Epsom salts. I decide Savasana is probably the pose to take, hands up, hands down I can’t quite work out which is best, I allow my legs to float apart, its not like Savasana on my mat, my legs are higher than my back it seems, the music stops, I begin to let go and realise some time later that I have drifted off. When I come to I play a game of moving my back which is feeling relaxed, not like it feels now as I type, laterally moving from one side of my pod to the other, then suddenly the music starts again, the cue that my time is up. It really was relaxing and my aching back felt better, as for stress relief until the Management install one at the Labour Camp I’m not sure, but I enjoyed my hour and would go again.

The Wobbly Bridge and St Pauls

After the hour it was time to enter the real world again, the sun was still beaming down, a lovely walk along the south bank just beyond the bridge to a park in front of Tate Modern. Time just passed, chat, yoga demo’s, a drink, fruit, yes fruit again, though how people can say they are sweet is beyond me. But a lovely couple of hours watching the world go by.

Enjoying the sun

Summer is so sporadic, we picked a super day to be out and about, I love it when a plan comes together, its people that make things special and I was graced with 2 lovely yogini’s to spend the day with before heading home to watch the world cup, I saw this one in a Pattiserie made out of cake.

Once home I saw my reflection, OMG my face is red from the sun!

World Cup cake

Making up for the morning, though blew it again this morning!

July 9, 2010

After an extremely tedious day at the Labour camp I really wanted to practice when i got home. Though note to self

I MUST TURN OFF MY IPHONE WHEN I PRACTICE!

It turned out to be a very long practice indeed, even though I didn’t faff much between poses,  I did send and receive the odd text during the Marichyasanas! See above, there was a even a text from teacher telling me I was a “bad man” for texting during practice LOL.

Anyway it was a very full 2 & 1/2 hours  practice, nothing missed out, all the inbetween vinyasas. Closing ended up being so looooong, 5 x Urdva Dhanurasana, including non happening block experiments, then some hang backs, though my lower back didn’t seem to get any more open, its really sore and tight the last 3 days. I usually enjoy hanging out in Halasana, but my lower back angst made that and Matsyasana, Uttan P a bit of a trial. That’s the first full practice I have managed since Sunday at the Shala.

It certainly tired me out, I slept from 10pm right round to 7.30am this morning, so obviously that’s 2 days in a row I have blown, but I finish early today so plan to practice when I get home, though what kind o practice I have yet to decide, my back is sore.

Practice at TLC in the morning, London is supposed to be up to 29c tomorrow, so I’m hoping for a hot, sweaty, bendy practice before we float off in the afternoon.

ps I forgot to mention that last nights practice had some strange distractions, it was a very warm evening, windows were open, sounds were carrying, though 2 sounds were so different, the first just as I began to practice was a couple a few houses along having an explosive arguement, screaming, yelling, stuff being thrown, then suddenly it went quiet, during the lull my neighbour started singing nursery rhymes to her year old baby, don’t know if the rowing couple had woken the baby up, but it’s the first time I have heard H sing to her son and what an absolutely fantastic voice she has, it was a real surprise, lyrical, tuneful, wonderful

Blown it!

July 8, 2010

My run of early morning pre brekky practice came to an end this morning, I had managed to do it every day for a month, having started on Monday 7th June. This morning I woke up at 05:38, faffed around, got on my mat at 05:50 and tried to start, OMG my lower back was killing me, it felt locked, I stretched up then went forward, but my hands barely made it to my knees, never mind the floor, it was horrible, no way, back under the duvet until 07:45. I think the evening backbend experiments, when I have probably not been warmed up enough have taken their toll. I really want my dropbacks back and of course to stand up again, I had high hopes for the block experiment, but the gulf between my hopes and lifes reality is a chasm.

 I plan to try again this evening, no World Cup matches today, and I hope to make it out of bed in the morning too, then I wont feel guilty about doing my criminal 4pm Friday night excursion into 2nd, going beyond my quite legal Pasasana!

Blocks!

July 7, 2010

After the abortive, not to mention dangerous attempt at using an encyclopedia as a yoga block I decided to try a packaging company over the road we use. ” No problem, what size do you want?” asks the man, 10 minutes later he calls to say they are ready. They are made out of polyunsomething or other, not the foam that most yoga blocks are made of and are actually a bit slippy.

I tried pushing up on them from Urdva Dhanurasana, but it’s hard getting them in the right place and then my hands slid across the tops. Plan B have them against the door, then dropping back down the door on to them, saving my wrist from a crash landing dropback, but getting a deeper bend in my back, still they are slippy, despite not being able to go anywhere, I eventually found the solution is to wrap my Yogitoes mat around them, but they do not seem to be the “stand up panacea” I was hoping for, my hands still seem to be glued to the floor/block with no way of lifting or pushing off into the rocking motion I need to have to even try to stand up.

It was another “Wednesday” practice today, I ploughed through to Marichyasana A, but I was stiff and my lower back was really aching, I decided rather than abandon practice to do some freestyle hip opening and bridges to fill in the time until breakfast, so not really what i would consider a “proper” practice.

Come on Germany