a fine mess i got myself into

You know how when you are hurting,

And it feels like you need to stretch an area of your body…

Because it’s really, really, REALLY TIGHT?

Well, that was what I had been feeling these past many weeks.


I was stretching, and stretching, and stretching…

And still it felt like I was getting worse and worse and worse.

Tighter and tighter and TIGHTER!

Which, of course, comes with PAIN.


Apparently, the tightening was my body’s way of protecting me.

It was trying to help keep me stabilized by tightening.


And when I would stretch it out,

I’d become more unstable, more in pain,

and my body would tighten even more to try to help return to stabilization.


It just couldn’t do anymore.

My ligaments, like over stretched rubber bands, have been rendered useless.

And *I* did that to myself.

Making Modifications

Over the weekend I attended a workshop on hands-on adjustments in the standing poses from the ashtanga primary series taught by my amazing Ashtanga Teacher, Erika Abrahamian. It was a workshop geared towards yoga instructors but was also made available to students. The front end portion discussed the relationship between student and teacher and highlighted the importance of the communication being a two-way process.

Our instructor advised the teachers in the room to use all of his/her senses to be in tuned to the student. “If one is not fully present,” she advised, “injuries can happen.” Even if the teacher is fully present, injuries can still happen. Our instructor stressed the importance for students to let the teacher know when this does occur.

This last point, of course, made me think about my recent right sided back pain following a hands-on-adjustment (also known as an assist) in mysore. I did not report this injury to the teacher. She found out by reading my blog.  Honestly, I put the blame on myself, for not keeping up with my practice, rather than her. So I didn’t feel it was important to tell her about it. After I returned to mysore, I saw how important this information is to both student and teacher. Her new found awareness of my SI joint instability, scoliosis, and year-long battle with back pain and sciatica has changed how she assists me in my practice. It’s been good — especially since my practice has taken a crazy dive bomb.


Dedicated to the One I Love

It was another tough practice: a humbling, difficult, painful sort of practice.

Coming out of savasana, I roll onto my side and dedicate the benefits of my practice to my son.  He’s been on my mind a lot lately. As he prepares for another trip overseas which will potentially put him into danger far beyond the farthest extent of my imagination. Although I try not to think of all of the horrible ways (physical, mental, spiritual) he could be affected, I am currently struggling to remain positive in this regard. Although I know I must stay positive, the process is difficult at best.

As I lay here, I reflect on the difficulties that I bumped up against in today’s practice and, as I offer up the benefits to my son, pray that somehow my ability to stay the course, and to not let the tearful moments defeat me will help my son do the same.

With my eyes still closed, I push up to seated with my hands in front of my heart in anjali mudra. I give thanks and pray for  strength.

Textasana is Not a Part of the Primary Series

There’s a reason we practice in the Mysore room, rather than at home. At home, the distractions continue to bombard you. They bling, and ring, and knock on your door – demanding you attend to THEM and NOT your practice. It throws you off. After the 3rd or 4th call for your attention, you step off your mat to see what’s up. Maybe you look but decide not to respond. It matters not; the message sits in your head and gets in the way of your focus.

I’ve come to learn that I’m not that strong in my resistance to the pulling forces. I text back in attempt to close the loop. The mere fact that I have put the distraction ahead of my practice invites the onslaught of thoughts to flood my consciousness with idle chatter. And I am LOST.

incoming texts

This is why I made myself go to Mysore instead of practicing at home. Because textasana is not part of the primary series. Nor are any of the other distractions that pull me from my mat on a regular basis.

And that, dear friends, is a beautiful thing.

As were the incoming text messages that were waiting for me when I finished my practice.

Another Look at Excuses

Lately, all my good-intended plans to maintain consist in my commitment to ashtanga ever seems to meet up with are excuses. My son falling back to sleep (needing me to wake him several times each morning), my stiff back, tight left hamstring, longer work days, exhaustion… the list goes on. Monday night, I vowed to not let the excuses get in the way of making it, not just to my mat, but to the Mysore room. When morning came, I found that not only had my son fallen asleep doing his homework but that there was no hot water in the house. Somehow, I managed to relight the water heater, and see to it that my boy was awake enough to attend to his schoolwork. And then I actually left for Mysore.

I found myself a spot by the window, and began. It was a SLOW and UGLY process trying to find my way through the series of set poses with my body as stiff as it was. I did my best to maintain my dristi and remain focused on MY practice but, there were times when I found myself admiring another ashtangi’s grace and ease from downdog — remembering where I was just a few months ago when things seemed to be opening up and releasing. If I really was a dog, my tail would be tucked between my legs, for any good ashtanga keeps their focus on their own practice.

Not only did I lose my focus, I discovered that I’d skipped poses long after I should have done them. Not knowing if I should go back, I moved on, reminding myself to FOCUS! Periodically, my teacher would come help me go deeper into a pose. She noticed, I’m sure, how weak and inflexible I’ve become in my weeks of inconsistent practice. In fact, anyone could see — if my mat fell within the periphery of their gaze. I’m exaggerating of course. It wasn’t ALL bad. There were times where I had found focus, stability, and even a bit of ease. Like in life, it’s the tougher moments that stand out though.

At one point, I was feeling pretty good. I was in one of the standing revolved poses when my teacher came around to assist.  She helped to level and stabilize my hips while I moved my heart towards the heavens. When I’d gotten there, I made eye contact with her and we both smiled. I thanked her as she left my side, then I enjoyed the pose for another breath or two. But as I was coming out, I felt a tug on my right side – which I quickly discounted as normal growing pains and moved on only to discover that it wasn’t normal at all. Nothing was normal after that. My back got stiffer and stiffer, and I got weaker and weaker, until I finally decided to end my practice early. I did bridge instead of wheel, countered with a forward fold, and quickly ended it after that (skipping the closing series all together). By the time I arrived at work, I could barely pull myself out of the car and up to standing and it hurt to breathe in fully. I’d really done it this time, and all because I’d let excuses come in between me and my practice for weeks on end.

Thankfully, my chiropractor had a cancelation that same day. He rotated my vertebrae back in line with the others, pushed my sacrum back where it belonged, and helped release weeks of built-up tension on the left side.

20130831 DSC 9856

The following day, I did a gentle practice at home and vowed to return to Mysore the following day.  But then the excuses popped up again. I told myself that my body was too stiff for mysore and that I’d just do my practice at home.  Then, after finishing the sun salutations, I left my mat to rescue my son from issues uploading his essay for school to the turnitin website… and never made it back. I didn’t make it there for today’s Led Primary Series either which is unfortunate because there is no Mysore at my studio over the weekend. Instead, I started with the my own ashtanga practice but deviated from the series just after the Sun Salutations. After inserting a chair twist in a desperate attempt to realign my spine, I fell into my own series of do-what-makes-you-feel-good poses. By the time I hit the shower to get ready for work, I felt good physically and equally excited about not giving up on my practice all together. Yet, I also felt a little guilty for not sticking with the sequence.

© Copyright Keeping Balance - Designed by Pexeto