01 August, 2012

Status Update: August 2012

Thought it would be a good time to make some notes about my body, my injuries, and my progress.

Today was my 67th consecutive day of yoga. I cannot recall the exact count, but I've taken somewhere in the ballpark of 200 classes this year. I have practiced in 6 different studios, and 2 bedrooms. I told myself I'd make it through the 45 day challenge, and then take a break. But that came and went, so I said I wanted to do 100 days and then I'll take a break, which I immediately modified to 101 days, because that just sounds so much more nifty. But I'm wondering, what is going to happen when I reach 101 days? Will I actually take a break? We shall see.

Progress...

Half Moon pose has become something I enjoy. I will credit this progression to really good instruction, especially from Kelley, who taught us the approach of entering the pose from the upright position, rather than starting with fingers on the floor. To me, Half Moon is really a pose the exemplifies "The Edge" because there's almost no way to be in it at all, without being on an edge. I have not yet got myself looking up at the top hand, but I feel like my body is strong, and my form is more and more solid. I am not dumping into the hip on the standing leg.

Dancer's Pose, over just the past few weeks, and I have no idea why, has become more solid again. There was some back and forth, one step forward, one step back, in previous months. Patrick's instruction on this pose was really what has helped me with it. And I don't think he was necessarily saying anything that nobody else says. But it happened to be that he was saying it at the moment that I was finally ready to listen. I think that's sort of the way "advice" works. We have a constant stream of input with suggestions, but until we're receptive, it's just noise.

In the past few weeks, I have become mentally much stronger. The big change for me was experimenting with "no water" during class, as a rule. Somehow, when I let go of the idea that there are water breaks, everything got a little easier. I was always organizing class, in my mind, around those reprieves. And that may have been taking my focus off a little bit. I had my eye on a "prize" of sorts. And it's impossible to be goal-oriented, and be completely in the moment at the same time. When the goal is taken off the table, everything settled down a bit for me. I have even found myself skipping breaks, even during tough classes. Instead of just going to Child's Pose, guzzling water, and panting on the ground, I stop and ask myself "Do I need to rest right now?" and if the answer is "No," then it's Dolphin Plank. Or Crow. Or a Vinyasa in a Hatha class. I used to worry, "Will I regret not taking this rest now, because I'll be hurting later?" But that's not really something to worry about.

Continuing (perceived) limitations...

I still feel like my hips are really tight, and the are fighting me from getting into the Warrior poses in the form I would like to feel in my body. I also feel that I have a hard time keeping the hips squared in most of the poses where that would be important (i.e. Standing Splits, Warrior III, Pyramid). I don't fully understand where the problem lies. If it's tightness, weakness, or not firming up the right muscles. But there are so many aspects to a yoga pose, and we can only learn a little detail at a time, and I have only been practicing for 10 months. Maybe I should cut myself some slack?

I haven't touched inversions. Shoulder Stand is as close as I get, and I do it because I feel safe enough. On one occasion, I tried the setup from Crow into Tripod Headstand, but only so far as resting my knees on my arms. I never went further. I am honestly afraid to be upside-down. It is not comfortable for me. I know that's got to be representative of something about me. And I also know that I should be confronting this greatest fear straight on. But I haven't been ready yet. I tell myself I'm worried about hurting my shoulders. But I think I'm making excuses for now.

Old injuries...

The changes I have made to my Chaturanga over the last few weeks have started to mitigate the damage I was repeatedly doing to my shoulder. I had never been keeping my elbows close to my side. I have found that orienting my hands so that my index finger is the one pointing "True North" has me moving in a better direction for my shoulders than with the middle finger straight ahead.

Finally, after months of the right knee hurting, it feels like the injury is subsiding to the point that I may be close to normal mobility. But I'm still not there yet. Looking back through history, my first mention of knee pain was April 9. Almost 4 months ago, and I think I only started writing about it after it had been an issue for a little while. The first time I wrapped my right foot in Eagle (my suspected culprit pose) was beginning of January. So it took me 3 months to get hurt, and over 4 months to recover. There's some sort of mental note to self in there.

New injuries...

The left groin pull that started in Boston (mental note, that was mid-June) started to get a little better, but has taken small turn for the worse this week, and I think I felt it doing Hatha in my bedroom in lower temperatures. But it's a hard one to nurse, because lots of poses have the potential to tweak it. Especially Warrior II, Crescent Lunge, and any sort of Twisted poses down in the legs. Just being mindful, but I haven't really started doing explicit modifications yet to accommodate it. I wonder if this is when that should be happening?

Right hip. It's not injured, exactly. But it feels so achy and tight all the time, any sort of rotations like Butterfly, Warrior II, or Tree, and I am totally lamenting the lack of mobility in that hip. I almost feel like it's something that needs to be worked on through massage, or PT, or something. Like, if someone could aid me in stretching it out, I'd get there a lot faster. Always have this urge, during Reclined Butterfly, to ask the instructors to come over and push down on my knees to get it to open more.

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