I seem to be forgetting to post to either of my blogs lately. I am practicing, regularly, but not daily, alas. However, the rhythm of my mornings is going to change shortly, because I’m switching from a morning aqua exercise class to one at 5 pm, so I should be able to reestablish a morning routine following my walk.
Sometimes it seems as though all I do is what my friend and teacher Jill calls “health practices.” Walking, aqua exercise, yoga, massages, sheesh. All these practices together have really helped my energy level and my Lyme arthritis, though. And I really really want to add in a routine pranayama practice.
Mary Obendorfer said asana prepares you for pranayama, which prepares you for meditation. It makes sense to me.
I have spent all day doodling around. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I don’t have time to do yoga between 6 am walking and 9 am water therapy class. I would have time if I didn’t want to eat breakfast, that is. And I would have time if I were willing to get up at 5 am, which I’m not. As a result, I practice later in the day, and it’s awfully hard to make myself do it.
On Wednesdays, it’s OK because I have class that day.
On Fridays, it’s OK because friends come over to practice in the afternoon.
That leaves Monday as the day that I have to conjure up an image of my better self encouraging my lazy self to go downstairs to the mat. The image that springs to mind is one of me pushing and kicking myself in the rear. I guess it would be better to replace that image with one of my better self gently taking lazy self’s hand and leading lazy self down the stairs. I’ll work on that.
I’m going to have to write a post about obstacles to home practice at some point. I encountered several today – baking bread, taking down the Christmas tree, checking email, and so forth. So my practice time was abbreviated, which revealed a flaw in my stated YoMo intentions.
It’s no big deal to do one of my intended daily poses – Upavistha Konasana (seated wide angle) – apart from the struggle to stay upright. It goes better if I do some prep poses, but if I’m in a hurry I can just wedge it into the practice.
On the other hand, Supta Virasana requires, no, demands preparation from me. It’s such a hard pose for my inflexible hips and legs and back that I have to do Virasana at the very least, and a couple of lunges help a lot, and Parsvakonasana gets my hips stretched out, and so on. Then when I get into the pose I have to stay in it long enough for my knees to eventually drop to the ground, and at that point it’s silly to pop right out of it. So the pose itself takes as much as ten minutes, five on each side because I do it Eka Pada – one leg bent in front of me and one in Virasana – to protect my low back.
That doesn’t even count the time to haul out all my props.
In my capacity as YoMo cheerleader I can’t renege on my intentions, can I?
On the plus side, even after doing it for just four days, I can see a difference. Today I only needed one blanket on top of the bolster. I’m still using my large bolster, but I bet I’ll get down to the smaller one soon. This is a far cry from my early yoga classes, where I needed a pyramid of three bolsters and a lot of self-talk to get down into this pose.
So far so good on practicing Upavistha Konasana (wide angle) and Supta Virasana (reclining hero) every day. Well, yeah, it’s only the third day, but still, I’m happy about it.
This morning’s practice was more energetic than I’ve been doing recently. I can finally do some sort of Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog) version regularly, for the first time since the onset of Lyme arthritis last March. (I hope I didn’t say the same thing last fall.) It’s a very nicely energetic pose, just about as expansive as Uttitha Parsvakonasana (extended side angle).
I’m going to try to post every day about YoMo. This might be a little boring, but it’s a way for me to track what works and what’s changing.
This morning I had a lovely peaceful practice. I started as the sun was rising. We had an ice storm followed by snow yesterday, so the field outside my window was sparklingly beautiful, as though the grass and surrounding trees had been sprayed with tiny jewels.
One problem with writing about home practice is that while I’m practicing I’m thinking about possible posts. That’s good, in that I can find a fair amount to say, and bad, in that I’m not as mindful as I should be while I’m practicing.
The worst: During Savasana, I was thinking about writing for YoMo about calming the mind chatter. Even worse, I thought I might mention that the idea for YoMo came to me in Savasana.
Laughing kindly at myself about it helps. So does remembering my breath.
Today’s weather was gloomy, cold and wet. I have been feeling the same way for several days. “Less than crisp” would be a good way to put it. Last spring when I was sick, I continued to practice, only very very restoratively. Maybe only breathing and some very gently movement.
My reminder to myself is therefore: Unless I ‘m unconscious, I can practice yoga.
I was irked with myself today, because I didn’t practice (apart from the non-practice practice of uttanasana on the kitchen counter). I told my sister I thought I should be practicing daily to get ready for YoMo. She laughed at me. “It’s YoMo that’s supposed to jump start your daily practice. You don’t need to practice for it.”
She’s right. I suppose if I didn’t do yoga several times a week it would be a good idea to get in the habit before YoMo, but maybe not even that. Sometimes I’m too hard on myself.
Another of my sisters encountered this great thing in a book by Sylvia Boorstin:
“I continue to suffer, tumbling around in stories of discontent, until I catch myself, and stop, and allow myself to know, and deeply feel, that I am frightened or confused or disappointed or angry or tired or ashamed or sad–that “I’m in pain!” Then my own good heart, out of compassion, takes care of me. It all happens when I am able to say to myself (I honestly do use these words), “Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Then we’ll figure out what to do.”
>From Happiness is an inside job: Practicing for a joyful life, by Sylvia Boorstein, p. 9-10.
She goes on to say that in these rescue phrases she is giving herself three instructions:
Take a breath.
Pay attention to what is happening.
It’s important that she calls herself “sweetheart” in this instruction: “‘Sweetheart’ reminds me that it isn’t my fault that my mind is embittered, that something has upset it, that I’m in pain. Even if I see that the source of my suffering is my own mind’s refusing to accommodate to its challenge, I can still feel compassionate about that. No one purposely suffers.” (p. 12)
This morning I got dressed in yoga clothes as a reminder that I wanted to practice early in the day. Ha! I sat at the computer all day working on YoMo stuff (more about that later). Around 4:30, I finally got off my duff and went downstairs to practice.
I was not paying attention. I started the invocation wrong, skipping the Oms. I almost fell over in a couple of standing poses, due to thinking about other things. I set up to work against the wall and wound up standing with my heel facing the room. I forgot to bring all the props I needed for Supta Pandangusthasana, remembering them when I was already lying down. I don’t know where my brain was, but it wasn’t in my yoga spot. Even Savasana (corpse) was not relaxing. I kept thinking about the web pages I’d been working on.
Tomorrow I’ll start off the day better, whaddya think? Today I was just a nu-nu brain.
Today as I came back from my walk I was trying to talk myself out of practicing right away. I wanted breakfast, I could do it later, I might skip today, blah blah blah.
I walked into the kitchen and saw that there were dishes in the sink from last night. We usually don’t let that happen. I hate waking up to dirty dishes. That was enough to make me keep going, heading downstairs to the mat.
I still thought I’d just do a short practice, maybe 20 minutes. Instead, it was an hour, and a really good hour at that.
I’ve been doing the same poses for almost a year, trying to get my body back to normal. Today I added Parighasana (gate latch), which has not been in my repertoire lately. Boy, what a great side stretch, even more than Parsvakonasana (extended side angle), or at least different, because you really bend your side over, whereas in Parsvakonasana you’re extending from heel to hip, but all straight. The adductor stretch is intense and wonderful too. You also get some hip opening, or at least a person with tight hips like me does.
I don’t know why I try to talk myself out of something that feels so good.
Oh, yeah, and when I came upstairs my husband had done the dishes. He’s the best.
I don’t know why the sciatica is back in full force. I’m working on the sciatica sequence in Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health, by B.K.S. Iyengar. I am modifying it as I can with the poses in Light on Yoga. I’m not going to list all of these, but boy oh boy there are some very challenging poses in that list!
I’m also lying on either a small inflatable ball or on a Sacro-Wedgy right before Savasana (corpse). My plan is to be in better shape before I go to Maine in two weeks.
When I started this post I referred to “my sciatica.” On rereading it, I changed it to “the sciatica”. I’m not interested in taking ownership of this discomfort. I’ll just let it roll on through me and away.