Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Funny, if I’d written last week as I planned to then this post would be nothing but excitement and positivity - this blog tends to polarise my life & practice into great or terrible, when of course most of it is made up of a lot of days which are neither perfect nor dreadful. But I suppose the desire to write is greater when there’s something really significant to say, so perhaps you should just assume that in the days and weeks I write nothing what I’m actually saying is “everything is fine”.
Anyway I digress (before I’ve even begun) but maybe I should start with last week’s positive stuff. So last week was great, practice-wise. After being given kurmasana and supta kurmasana on Sunday, I went to the shala Monday, Wednesday and Thursday – a huge improvement from the days of once a week. Despite the fact I felt completely destroyed on Monday after two days in a row (that’s two days of 2 or 3 attempts at bujapidasana and 2 kurmasana/supta k, 1 lone, 1 assisted), resting on Tuesday I felt better than I felt beforehand in terms of my body. I expect (and usually find) the next day to be when you’re most sore, so it was a pleasant surprise to feel like I had a new body instead. Wednesday and Thursday it felt good to practice two days in a row again, I really think it makes a difference, and instead of the usual grand decision the night before, on Thursday I turned up at the shala by default: it just seemed easier than making a decision whether to go or not. I sort of came-to on the tube and wondered how on earth I got there and still felt a bit puzzled when I arrived but it felt like progress that going to practice was the default option. I went out at lunchtime on Thursday and made some notes over coffee about the changes I have started to notice
  •  I’m amazed that my body doesn’t feel sore – I know I’ve worked, but nothing feels unmanageable. On Tuesday when I expected to feel really sore I felt amazing, like the day after a terrible hangover when you wake up expecting to feel ill but instead feel back to normal. 
  •  I have been feeling totally blissed out after savasana. I normally sit quietly for a moment or two  afterwards, but this period has lengthened as I stay and lap up the waves of whatever this amazing feeling is. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but it happened three times in a row so hopefully it’s here to stay.
  • On Monday night at my choir rehearsal, I was knackered and being told we were going to sing a difficult new song through from the top again I had the familiar feeling of I can’t do it! But my mind went to the brutal effort of buja & kurmasana that morning and I thought if I can do that, I can surely sing a bit more too. 
  •  My stomach has been reacting weirdly though I don’t know if it’s connected (think India!). I felt so terrible on Monday I went and got some rehydration salts and took them before my singing class, remembering how much better they made me feel when I was exhausted in Goa. It seemed to work – though I don’t remember accompanying them with a bar of Dairy Milk when I was at Purple Valley! 
  • So the week went like this: Monday – wrecked, no energy, body felt broken. Tuesday – rest, felt great. Wednesday & Thursday – cut down to 3 surya B’s to conserve energy. Mad sweating & high energy but Thursday felt like real progress in the exit – I got a real lift up in the arm balance and straightened my legs before lowering gently down. Almost got the bind in supta kurmasana but got so excited (I giggled) that I lost it. Right foot came in over left as C helped me with the bind but I couldn’t quite work the heel up onto my left foot (and yes, I’m sorry but I now make involuntary sound effects while being adjusted) and then she had me hold it for ten breaths – every one of them panted.
  •  I feel like buja is making no real progress, some days its better and other days much worse again – definitely no linear progress with this one. But according to Noah this asana is about hip flexors and stamina plus a bit of arm strength, so surely the more I practice the easier this will become?
  •  I think getting new poses has changed my attitude to the whole practice because before I felt like I was just going there to get on with it, and getting the odd adjustment, now I feel like I am really working on something and I can start to see a future where my practice will progress. I can understand now why people get hooked on the physical progress and it’s hard not to but I don’t want to become asana-centric. I’m not sure what the answer is but I know that what’s driving me now is that I want to keep practicing more just to make it all come more easily.
But that was last week. So what of this week? I went to practice on Sunday, a tough one as I’d been out late on Saturday night and then the clocks went forward, so I only had 5 hours sleep. There were only 6 of us there and Cary didn’t arrive until 8.45 having been let down by her phone not auto-updating when the time changed. With the shala that quiet I had quite a lot of adjustments, but practice felt like a real slog on that little sleep (after a week of 5-6 hours sleep I really need to catch up on a weekend). For my last three poses the routine was the same: two attempts at buja (actually three, I fell out of the arm balance on the first try and went straight into the second without taking vinyasa), followed by kurmasana & supta solo, and then assisted. After practice my collar bone was feeling really sore on the left side and over the last two days it hasn’t gone away: it feels really badly like it needs to click but won’t. I woke up on Monday at 5.30 and even though my bag was packed for the shala I decided to go back to sleep, and today was a moon day, so I haven’t tried to practice, but it hurts just to have a small bag on my left shoulder. So I went to the osteopath tonight, expecting a lecture about the demon ashtanga and lots of painful adjustments, but actually it was quite good. She explained that my right side is much tighter than my left, so my left side is working harder to compensate. Also my right hip is a bit misaligned which will be affecting my left shoulder/collarbone – it’s true that in supta k on Sunday I felt really tipped over to the left side, and I have definitely been feeling the kurmasana adjustment in my hips all week. She did some huge clicks of my lumbar spine, which made me giggle, and of my neck which made me feel sick, but weirdly nothing on the desperate-to-click collar bone. And although I was determined to go to the shala tomorrow she made me promise that I will practice at home and work on gentle stretching and opening up the hips and shoulders. So this is where the ego kicks in and starts counting how many practices I’ve made it to this week...this inconsistency is driving me mad. I suppose the answer is to just let it go and breathe...


  1. Hi mel,

    Great post loved reading about the changes you have observed.

    well done on your regular week, last week and well done on backing off while you work out what's going on with this injury, it's all part of it. Sounds like you learnt a lot from osteopath, what did they say about collar bone and is it better?

    You made me think about how hard it would be to practice once a week. Ugh! Much easier every day as you have already found it becomes almost automatic.

    I would not worry about getting asana centric. If it gets you on your mat the practice will work it's magic. Also think it changes over time and you learn a lot in the process. You can only be what you are anyway.

  2. Great post Mel,

    That euphoric after practice feeling is what got me hooked and kept me coming back all those years ago, I just wish it would stay with more for longer afterwards.

    It's so good to hear you feel like your practice is moving forward into its own future and that you don't want to be an "asana chaser", even though being given a new pose does give your practice a mental lift.

    Some practice every day is definitley the way to go, it becomes a habit and something you miss if you cant practice for some reason.

    Finding a Therapist who isnt "ashtanga negative" is great news, I know how useful it has been for me, though good advice to take it easy after her treatment. Are you going to see her again to click the shoulder?

    You are doing really well, your practice is coming, your attitude to is great and you are listening to your body and the changes you are bringing to it.

  3. Hi Helen, the osteopath didn't say too much about the collar-bone itself, only that it was part of the bigger picture and the tight right hip. She demonstrated it by pulling my leg up into a very loose half lotus and giving my knee a little bounce so I could feel the difference between the two - I then said about how with lotus you always put your right leg in first and she suggested alternating, at which point I explained what Noah had taught which is that left leg in first is a completely different posture which draws the prana down, and the whole aim of the practice is to let it rise up. To her credit she didn't look at me like I was mad...
    On the asana-centric thing what I mean is that I don't want to judge my practice (at all, in fact!) especially not on the basis of how good bujapidasana was (or anything else for that matter). Of course when something's new it's hard not to feel that level of focus but it's not something I want to be analysing on an ongoing basis.
    Kevin it's not euphoria really, it's a totally blissed out calm, almost like a meditative state. It's lovely :)
    makes me laugh when you say 'therapist', it definitely makes me think of lying on a couch talking about my childhood rather than having bodywork done! This osteopath is actually quite negative towards ashtanga I think, she practiced it in the 90's but gives the impression that she knows too much now and has some reservations about its effects on the body. It was good last night though as she didn't seem like she was judging, and I got helpful feedback. And although she didn't click the shoulder out I did a lot of stretching this morning and there was a whole load of clicking going on...so I think it'll finish mending by itself.

  4. Hi Mel,

    Euphoria wasn't quite the right word, but I do know exactly what you mean, I remember describing it once as a state of being calm, balanced and untroubled almost detached from my surroundings in my own little world, but observing the chaos around me. I only really get that now if I have time for a decent length Savasana.

  5. Hi Mel,
    Just wondering if your feeling better.

  6. Hi Helen, thanks for asking :) Feeling much better thank you but I haven't actually practised since sunday...planning to go the led class tomorrow before I head home to visit my family for Easter so I'll have to see how I do! When are you next down in London by the way?

  7. Good news, led ey! Will be in London in two weeks. Have been finding self practice hard this week so am on countdown. Sure next will be better :)