Archive for August, 2017

The week after the week before

August 30, 2017

Realizations more than changes from the week with Lucy, less but more focused information this time, not so many projects to take away and work on. The older I get , I turned 53 this week, the more I realize the need to preserve my energy, to work in a better way. Lucy week was still intense, I slept 12 hours on Friday night, working at the practice in this way is doable for a week, but unsustainable in the long term.

After resting on Saturday and a convoluted commute to AYL on Sunday I wasn't expecting much, I always go to AYL on my birthday if I can. In that room with its yellow walls and quiet energy practice happens, I need that mental space, no information overload, just the odd adjustment as I plodded slowly through. Without so much information and adjustment there's more energy left for my bit of intermediate and despite a week of not doing dropbacks, I managed to drop back without giving myself concussion. Amazingly despite some apprehension the full assisted sequence with Louise felt quite easy. An unexpectedly good practice, though before I turn 54 I would like to stand up from a back bend again.

The changes my shoulders need to make take a lot of the mental energy, pushing down more with the left hand in poses like updog to take the torque out of my spine, sending my shoulders downwards in everything as much as I can, this is the project. As well as being a physical project it's also a mental project, putting more faith in my left arm and shoulders strength, the fear that it will collapse or give way is still there.

I was pleased with my birthday present to myself, a shirt from Sharaths tour, even though I didn't take part this time, brilliant design with the coconut and the little feet, a nod to AYL. They should put the little feet back on the floor, I miss seeing those.


A week of shoulder awareness

August 25, 2017

This week with Lucy she has been a mission to even me up. It's been about awareness of the shoulder blades. It's been about finding a better balance between left and right.

5 days of full practices to Laghu, Lucy had me doing Laghu in Cornwall just in case you were wondering why I was going beyond my usual official Ustrasana finishing point.

It's more than just a week of yoga with Lucy, of information and insight, it also feels like a week of therapy for my shoulder. She adjusts the posture, but often at the same time manages to manipulate the shoulder, she has a gift for finding where the restrictions are. At times it's not exactly comfortable, no pain no gain, but hopefully avoiding future suffering. Heyam Dukham Anagatam and all that.

No big breakthroughs, no new postures, but a new awareness and realisation of what needs to move, what is yet to return in terms of sensation and what I should be doing.

The problems in my back all stem from the shoulder and my perceived lack of strength, with may just be fear, my protective tendency of leading with the right arm in everything where pushing up needs to happen, such as updog and Urdva Dhanurasana. Relying on the right arm has been twisting my spine, all those uneven vinyasa. Every day Lucy has assisted my backbends, some days having me over blocks, some days using the wall, but the last couple of days it's been trying to push up with both arms at the same time. I just didn't think my left arm had the strength or stability in that position, it's still not as strong as the right, but perhaps it does have enough strength and stability to push up.

C said my shoulders are in a much better position after this week, no longer scrunched up around my neck and ears, its taken a lot of mental awareness to stop that happening in every posture, adding to the length of my practice as I stop to evaluate what my shoulders are doing.

No new poses this time, though unlike a year or so ago when I was getting frustrated stopping at Bhekasana , I think physically and mentally what I have is enough with the additions to Ustrasana. It's been good to get so much help and advice with the 2nd series this week.

Losing the attachment

August 23, 2017

Lucy was on me before we even started today, she had me on the wheel and digging her thumbs in the scar tissue at the back of my shoulder and was doing it again in Parivrita Parsvakonasana. I'm up for anything that will help. After yesterday I was extra mindful of sending my shoulders down my back.

I like that she's leaving me alone in Supta K, the exit today was a bit breath takingly painful. Some of the things Lucy picks up on are amazing, Lucy was assisting Baddha Konasana and wanted me to squeeze the elbows in, the right arm does it, but the left I don't have the sensation in the right place to be able to do it, like the brain sends the instruction but nothing happens. The nerves and scar tissue from all the surgery that in daily life are not limiting, in yoga you find out what is yet to return, if it ever does.

Lucy assisted more of my 2nd today, Krounchasana slightly bend the knee , Salabahansa squeeze the knees together and Ustrasana before assisting my pre UD bridges. She was saying that for the dropback-standup to happen I need more even UD's, I've developed a pattern of pushing up mostly with the right arm in UD with the left kind of following, so I'm immediately putting a torque through the spine, so she had me on bricks and against the wall, then off the ground trying to push up evenly.

3 still going by this point, so she stops to do the closing chant for the people who need to leave then tells me to make sure I do full closing! I'm shattered.

J. Kindly said she thought I had lost my attachment and looked happier in my practice, she reckons she can see a difference. I'm not sure, I'm just so knackered by this point I haven't got the energy for attachment or caring what it looks like. C said my shoulders were in a better position, people seeing things from the outside that I don't feel, see or realise.

Well that's day 3, my rug is saturated, I wore the "Powered By Yoga" top today and I could see the imprint of the letters in sweat on my rug!

Lucy Crawford Part 3

August 22, 2017

You know it's been a hot practice when you are laying in Savasana contemplating breakfast and the second group start to arrive, unaware we were still in there, as the door opens you hear "Jesus Christ it's hot in here!".

Day 2 of a 5 day mysore week with Lucy Scott, my 3rd week working with her this year.

Day One also happened to be a moon day, so I took it easy, though we all still did our full practice. Lucy watched quite a lot, seeing where we are in practice and in our body's.

Apart from a deepening of Mari C and having me try to control the up and over in Supta Konasana and the odd verbal comment like narrower feet in The Prasarita poses Lucy let me slowly plod through. I thought she was going to assist Pasasana but she left me once I bound myself.

Lucy is on a mission with my left shoulder, it's inability to allow the left hand to press down enough in Urdva Dhanurasana, the hand slides.

Day 2 was more what I've come to expect with Lucy, lots more help, but always with a purpose, you never feel like she's adjusting you because she's in the vicinity or it's your turn. Prasarita C making my shoulders leave my ears, then in Utkatasana she tells me the looking up is actually then making the left shoulder lift and that's going in to my back making it twist. This is where Lucy is great, she sees the body and sees what it's doing, what it's effecting further down.

Bhekasana assist getting the left hand pointing forwards and lifting the chest. Ustrasana she says is stronger.

Day 1 Urdva Dhanurasana quite a deep assist, trying to open the shoulder. My shoulder has made an amazing recovery and is far more mobile than the Medical profession said to expect, but it still lacks a lot of the movement it had in certain positions, its ability to allow the hand to get under the shoulder in UD, this is Lucy's mission. Day 2 UD after doing 5 on my own she has me first on bricks pressing my hands in to the wall, then lifting up off of a Bolster. I'm toast, well I'm dreaming of toast!

Closing was assisted as well Shoulderstand and Halasana and Savasana in overtime as group 2 were starting to arrive. Well they can't complain it's not warm!

Sharath influx

August 14, 2017

Sharath is coming to London this week, I decided not to take part this time, partly because of the horrendously expensive peak train fares on the week days and also because we don't actually have trains early enough to get there on the weekend days. Then there's the question of what I would actually get out of a week of led primary with 150 other people. I've done lots of led classes with Sharath, in London and in Mysore. I get that it's about the count and the amazing energy in the room and Sharath himself, who has a wicked sense of humour.

London is the last stop on his European tour and not only attracts U.K. based Ashtangi's, but also many from abroad. The visitors have arrived, I walked in to AYL yesterday, the shoe rack was overflowing, both the main room and the Finishing/Starting room were full, so J and I sat on the shoe rack to wait. That's the first time in 7 years of going to AYL on a Sunday that I've had to wait to even start in the Finishing room.

After 10mins or so and some shunting up, space closing of mats in both rooms J and I started, the visitors unaware of the system or not realising L had called "one more" and it was their turn to move next door, had to be prompted to move.

I ended up next to an Italian girl in the main room, Sharath is going to be an experience for her, I wonder if she will survive, she seemed to have only the vaguest idea of the standing sequence going from Prasarita D via a vinyasa to Upavistha Konasana and missing out everything inbetween. I truly hope she has an amazing experience, Sharath always seems more lenient with the primary people, not stopping them as he would in Mysore.

Usually I'm in my own little world plodding through in the one mat wide section, but it was quite distracting and I was quite glad when L told Miss Italy to take her mat and water bottle and do closing. I shunted in to her spot away from the radiator and found my rhythm. The one mat wide section means you tend to get left alone, more time for experimenting with Philippa's straight leg hang back backbends before L came over for assisted.

Weirdly the Finishing room was nearly empty, my favourite spot near the window was free, so closing, sitting and Savasana in the sunshine.


AYL's magazine finally arrived, Pushpam #3 on Dukha, suffering. The cover is a stunning black image of Ganesh, though on a lighter note there is a brilliant Boonchu cartoon of the cult of the yoga asana selfie.