Tag Archives: practice

Hip abductor meltdown

With all the web chattering about how yoga can hurt your body (or not), it was only appropriate that I get to experience it first hand.

Graphic: hip abductorsOn Monday, in Jessica Apo’s vinyasa flow class at Thrive Yoga, I was in Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) with the full bind (under my top hand reaching behind my back and graspoing my bottom hand under my leg). It was the first time I had been able to do the bind since coming back from my knee injury (2009). I could clasp my hands without straining and fumbling to connect my hands (or using a strap); usually I just stick with half bind. In my massage therapy session with Howard Rontal a few days before, we had been working on loosening my shoulders and arms so that probably contributed to the change.

Doing the pose on the right side, I discovered the freedom in my shoulders, and even transitioned towards Bird of Paradise (Svarga Dvijasana), but did not come up to the one-leg balance because I didn’t want to risk an unsteady pose. On the left side, I decided to keep it simple and really sink into the pose, exploring how my body felt with this new range of movement. But the success with the bind that night probably took me into uncharted territory for the rest of my body, especially my core and lower back. When I released the bind to exit the pose, I felt a muscle spasm in my lower core — lower back (left side), groin, left hamstring. It was as if I had been hit by a stun gun. I rested in child’s pose. I did not feel any lasting pain so I continued with the class, modifying or skipping any pose that might overexerted my back.

I didn’t feel the injury at all during the next day or while doing my simple desk yoga. However, I tested my lower back in malasana, going deep into my hips, feet flat on the floor, and releasing my lower back. The injury flares up with a vengeance. I had to fall over on my side to get out of the pose because I could not lift up without severe pain.

That experience made me cancel any yoga classes for the rest of the week and call Howard. He managed to fit me in on Saturday for an emergency session. We spent the session working on the hip flexors and lower core. I am really fortunate that I have a therapist who already knows my  body and where my knots are tied. We had an interesting exchange in which he would apply some strokes and then I would test out how my body felt, giving him feedback, and then we’d go back on the table for additional work.

I actually felt more muscular aches and fatigue after the session. Oddly enough, I felt the pain on both sides evenly, as opposed to just the left.

Today I feel fine, a little stiff, but I will hold off on a class until tomorrow.

Crunk time in my 40-day yoga challenge

I’ve noticed that it’s getting a lot harder to fit in all the components of the 40-day challenge, especially the 20-minute meditation twice a day. It’s just harder to bite off that slice of time and block out all other activities until I come out of it. The 20-minute length is also pumping against the limits of my attention span.

The other issue is that I’ve found that I’ve been putting some tasks on the back-burner to meet my challenge targets. The first couple of weeks, I let things slide. Now I find that the backlog is demanding for my attention. And then, there are the unforeseen emergencies that throw everything out the window (too many of those have been happening recently) — but that precisely when I need a mindfulness practice.

Four days in a row

Since Saturday, I’ve been able to carve out time to go to a daily yoga class, and also put in time at the gym to build up my aerobic capacity. It’s amazing how a dedicated exercise regime can improve my outlook on life.

Whenever I can string together three or four classes in a row, the cumulative effect is extraordinary, making the next class feel a little better than the previous one. Today, it was a Hatha Yoga class with Marylou McNamara at Thrive Yoga: it was less intense than the first three vinyasa classes and allowed me to settle into the poses and work on alignment. It also helped that my daughter, Stephanie, was on the mat next to me, just like in the old days.

Book cover art: Baron Baptiste seat in a yoga pose
Setting aside 40 days to dive deep into your practice

I’ve signed up for the 40 days of yoga and wellness at Thrive, starting on January 6, the first time that I’ve undertake the challenge of sustaining a rigorous program of six yoga sessions a week (a minimum of three formal classes, the rest can be at home), plus meditation and other activities. It’s based on Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Breakthrough Program to Radically Change Your Body and Awaken the Sacred Within Your Soulso I will have one and a half months to concentrate on my yoga practice. Thrive Yoga has offered this program once a year for the past four or five years, so it has become a kind of rite of passage at the studio.

Sun Salutation

I’ve seen lots of attempt to explain the Sun Salutation on this web, but this one is one of the better ones without going into full animation. It’s brought to you by Samadhi Yoga, out of Seattle, Washington. Also check out their online journal, Jai / Flame even though it’s five years old. Just random stuff that I run across surfing instead of doing my home practice. [MLS: some useful stuff disappears from the web. Sorry, folks.]