Thursday, May 25, 2017

Done


I love to practice at home. The feeling for the duration of my practice is lost. That's why I set a timer. Ninety minutes asana practice is a fantastic time. My practice slowed down. I stay in an asana till it feels good. These days I close my eyes. I focus on the inner sensations. It helps me to relax. With closed eyes, I can also better focus on my breath. Time flies. The 90 minutes are over so quickly.

Unbelievable how painful the transitions were today. I crawled from one asana to the next. Doing vinyasas is something else. After the twists of second series the ninety minutes were over. The three lotus pose position finished my practice.
The asanas are improving again. Even urdhva dhanurasana is coming back and it feels good to bent backwards. Patience is needed.

Right now I feel excellent. The mornings offer me horror pain. It's fading away during the day.

Yesterday I had a first phone call with the rolfer. Next Wednesday I'll have my first session. She asked for any issues. I told her about my sacroiliac joint. She is optimistic that she can help me. I don't expect this. But this nice lady is optimistic, why shouldn't I be optimistic, too?


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

90 min Ashtanga yoga


Good things first:
I'm very happy that I practice daily again. I practice at home. The timer is set to 90 minutes. During these 90 minutes I stay on the mat. My concentration has improved a lot. Today primary was on the schedule. I alter primary and second series. When the alarm clock rang, I still had to do the closing sequence. So slow is my practice. Today only the three last asanas as closing sequence were possible.

Slowly I close the gap between what was a year ago and now. I become stronger, I become more flexible. My breath is very fearful, especially between poses. Jumping is not possible. Setu bandhasana is impossible. But so much is possible, except 2 or three poses.
I observe my breath. Whenever I realize that it's flat or that I don't breathe at all, I start intensifying my breath. That's what I aim for: The asanas shall feel good. I want to reach again a certain level of relaxation when I do the asanas.

This morning I woke up with lower back pain again. The sacroiliac joint is obviously out of place. The psoas muscle were screaming. I prepared a cup of coffee for myself. Then I started writing my journal. I stopped it and wrote a letter to  the rolfing lady round the corner. That's the plan now, I'll do the 10 classic rolfing sessions. To care for the body in different ways cannot be wrong. The rolfer herself has had back pain. Perhaps this means that she has a certain understanding of these  issues. My intention is to do something good for my body. I don't expect that these sessions heal my back. But I'm open for surprises.

Tomorrow back bending is the focus again. I'm looking forward to it.

With every hour my back feels better.





Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Highlights and disappointments


I'm back to a good routine. I usually practice in the morning.

On Sunday I practiced second series, on Monday primary, today again second series.

Highlights: 
- I could take my leg behind my head, one after the other during primary. It was not as far and easy-going as it used to be, but it was possible. This makes me happy.
- I could stretch my legs in kurmasana, the body lifted from the floor. Wow. I could even hold this pose.
- Back bending feels great.

Disappointments:
- My practice started hurting again. It's almost impossible to add counter poses. Even a downward facing dog after ustrasana seems impossible. Then the sacroiliac joint seems to be out of place.
- I fall out of headstand, because pain doesn't allow to move slowly out of the pose, also not with bent legs.
- To get out of salamba sirsasana is impossible. I leave out this pose.
- I practice variations, but this is great.

I love that I practice. Being in the asanas doesn't hurt. The stuff between the asanas gives me trouble.

I become more and more flexible. The practice is more and more adjusted to my needs. I left the rigidity behind me.

Life is as it is. I make the best out of the situation.
I tried not to practice. This wasn't satisfying.
I ignored the pain. This I don't recommend either.
I became modest and I'm content that I can practice.

On my list are now 10 rollfing sessions. I don't expect too much, but it's something that I do for myself. It's sort of pampering.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

On food


Sunday: I know now that we all need also protein, especially those who are sportive. This is why I try to eat some protein with every meal. Chickpeas are a wonderful source. I had hummus at home, but today I wanted to make my own. It should become a little experiment. I wanted to find out if  the bought hummus tasted similar to the self-made one. On the left side in the picture is the bought hummus on the right side the self-made hummus. To be honest we didn't even like to taste the bought one. The consistency was rather hard, not so smoothy. It smelled awfully. 
Some time ago I made a similar experiment with just chickpeas. The consequences of the comparison is that one doesn't like to eat the stuff from the grocery store. It's really easy to make these delicious meals on my own. I try to avoid these convenience products whenever it's possible, also the vegan ones. 


Chickpea salad with hummus and bread was my lunch today. 

I the morning I practiced. It was a satisfying yet not pain free practice. I could find out a pattern. In the morning pain is there, during the day it fades away. That's how it is. I experiment with different ways to get into a pose. This deepens my understanding of almost every asana. 

My plan for tomorrow is:
1. Strength training first.
2. Then adjusted primary. I want to alter the two series. I want to get stronger again. 



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Inspiration by Nancy Gilgoff

Here is a link, that describes how P. Jois taught Ashtanga yoga in the very early years.

It's a very interesting article.

As said, many things were changed since the beginning. Too many people wanted to learn Ashtanga yoga. All the compromises that were made on the way made the series not better, but probably more approachable for the masses. I got injured.

I practiced today again. I loved my practice. It was painful. I find more and more ways how to avoid this pain. Posts about this topic will come.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

I do it my way.


Yesterday I practiced the Moon Series by Matthey Sweeney. I think I remember that I had read that he couldn't practice one of the classic Ashtanga series due to an injury. So he created a series for himself that he was able to practice. Sorry, I cannot remember the source anymore.

I love the sequence. It seemed to be perfect for him and probably also for many others. For me it could be a series that I'd like to practice in addition to one of the Ashtanga yoga series, but not as a substitute.

Why? The series consists of mainly forward bending asanas. At the end are a few back bending asanas. After all these forward bending asanas I was not able to do an easy ustrasana. I couldn't reach my feet. After a decade of forward bending I have enough from only forward bending asanas. I've reached a level that is advanced. My back bending isn't. For me a balanced training has twists, inversions, back bending, forward bending asanas. I don't want to forget the balancing asanas.

Nevertheless I learned something that makes it easier to practice with my current issues (back pain). It's possible to move into the trikonasana poses from downward facing dog not from a standing position. This tiny variation makes a difference. It takes away all the burden on the lower back.

I could write more details. But is it really important? I won't follow another strict system. After decades of yoga practice I know my body and I know what is good for me. I keep learning. I'm interested in what others do. At the end I decide if it's good for me.
Joint pain is to be avoided.

When I get up these days, back pain is back. With every hour of being active it disappears. I consider to postpone my practice to a later hour of the day. To focus on back bending feels good, so I'll adjust second series.

I don't know why, but I still think one day this lower back pain belongs to the past. I can live with my current difficulties. It is as it is. It's really not that important. Who cares if I change the series? Who cares when I practice in the afternoon? Life would be boring without issues. I'm not so involved or down in all these happenings. I observe, I'm looking for a solution.

I remember the beginning of Burroughs book 'Junkie': He mentioned why he started taking drugs. He felt cut off from life. Taking drugs meant for him to feel life. Not that I want to recommend to create issues for oneself to get a feeling of being alive. Life means to face different situations. It's not necessary to judge everything. Life can be also observed.

Back to the title of this blog post: One  must find one's own way. Everybody has other possibilities, skills, another body and so on. To have one solution for everybody is an illusion. I do it my way.

I'll keep practicing my possible variations. Patience is necessary. I feel relaxed.



The picture is new, a few days old. Oh my, I felt weak when I tried this pose.



Saturday, May 06, 2017

SI joint, new insights from someone who has been there


Yesterday I listened to a video with David Keil on the SI joint. David Keil is an expert for three reasons:
1. He is an Ashtanga yoga practitioner for decades and also a teacher
2. He wrote a book on anatomy
3. He had awful lower back pain, caused by the SI joint, too.

What strengthens my hope. He got rid of it.
I don't know how often I nodded with my head when I listened to his video. He verbalized what I felt. I know that I'm right with my theory and my experience. I got background information.

I share this experience and also what I think might help to get rid of this pain, because there is not so much expertise. One must really search to find information.

David Keil first described the pain. It can be felt as a bit of pain. It can be also be experienced as a nightmare that influences the entire life. There he was. There I'm sometimes.

What caused this pain?



The first reason that David mentioned were the leg behind head poses. Many students of Ashtanga yoga are not yet ready for this pose. They force the leg behind the head. The hip doesn't allow this movement. Quickly the SI joint is injured. 
In my case my hips were open enough after a decade of daily practice. The picture is from 2015 before my injury. I can tell exactly when I injured myself. It happened while performing one of these leg behind head poses, but not because I was not able to do it, but because I got too fast into such a pose. 
I've been in a led class. 80% of the students in led classes are beginners. So the teacher helped several students to bind marichyasana C and D. I got cold. Due to this interruption of the flow time for the rest of the series was short. The teacher started counting faster. Students for the next class were already in front of the door. Quickly I moved into supta kurmasana as I liked to perform this pose. Damned, I felt at once that I made a wrong movement. 
I cursed and swore not to go to a let class anymore.
As it is these days, led classes are designed for beginners. 
Then followed the next huge mistake. The pain didn't disappear. I wanted to avoid all the leg behind head poses, but I was asked to practice them in the Mysore classes. This made everything worse. I didn't go to classes anymore. 

What is injured?
According to David Keil the SI joint is held by ligaments. Ligaments cannot be stretched. They hold the joint. Many soccer player or basketball player tore ligaments, mainly those of the knee joint, finger joint, feet joint. Who tries to take the leg behind the head? It's a minority world wide. This is also why most doctors have no clue. 
The consequence of this injury of the ligaments of the SI joint is that the muscles around this joint are stressed and hurt.

What can be done?
1. Please have a look at the first picture. When the body moves forward, the lower back must carry a lot of the weight of the body. This hurts, when the joint is injured. During the last months I avoided this pose. I practiced a variation. I lied on my back. It's a hip opening asana, it's not necessary to balance in addition. 
This also explained why I couldn't get into sirsasana (headstand) with straight legs. It has been too painful. The back had to carry my body weight, this was not possible anymore. Some students are rather long in sirsasana. It's not recommended to be longer in sirsasana with the legs parallel to the floor as it's too much stress for the back. 
I had/have pain when performing all these forward bending asanas while starting from a standing position. I'll avoid this till my back is healed. I can support the movement, I can put weight on the arms. It's possible to get into sirsasana with bent legs.  There are variations, that don't put pressure on the lower back.
In sum: All forward bending asana that stress the lower back shall be avoided. It's easy to find out which poses shall be avoided as it hurts to practice them. 
2. All poses that are not symmetric shall be avoided, according to David Keil. This can even be Janu Sirsasana A.
3. Last but not least something that can be done actively. Muscles are the second layer. Strong muscles can protect the joint and ligaments. Also this can be felt. When I engage my abdomen poses become less painful. Strength training is important. Strong abdomen protect the lower back. 
4. Fascia massage of the back muscles bring almost immediate relief. 

Obviously ligaments need to heal. Even inflammation can arise. It takes time. But healing is possible. 

What I still don't understand is why the pain disappears when I move. In the morning when I wake up back pain is so awful, I really wonder why. This makes it difficult to start practicing. 

Saturday is my day off. 

A lot can be practiced, but pain must be avoided. 
Strength training is important!!!! I'll start my yoga practice with strength training. It's a good warm up.