general blather

Go upside down!

I recently saw a graphic of a physical therapy technique called postural drainage that could be used on COVID-19 patients. It apparently used to be used often before ventilators became widely used. I don’t have enough information to recommend it or not. BUT! It’s all inversions!

Most people think of headstand and shoulderstand as the yoga inversions. And many people aren’t able or willing to do them at home without the help of a teacher. That’s OK. Here are a few that are more accessible.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog)

Prasarita Padottanasana (wide angle standing forward bend)

Viparita Karani (legs up the wall)

These images are highly stylized, of course. Here are a few modifications. Think of these as restorative opening poses, not stretching active poses, if you are doing them for the benefit of your lungs.

  • In downward facing dog, you can put a support under your head and/or your hands. You could even put a pillow or bolster on a chair to support your hips (much as we do in the studio with ropes around our hips).
  • In wide angle forward bend, you can put a bolster, blanket, or blocks under your head.
  • In legs up the wall, you do not have to be smack up next to the wall. As long as your knees are straight, you can be away from the wall at an angle and still get the full benefit of the pose.
general blather

Pranayama Book Club second meeting

Jill and I met yesterday at Mirth for PBC.  We talked a little about the inquiries that go up to p. 24.  I think the time estimate for the last one, How Do I Breathe, where you’re considering all the aspects of the breath, was a bit low.  It’s a good exercise, because it forced me to put feelings into words and to consider things I hadn’t before, like origin of the breath and quality of the breath.

I’ve been either sitting or lying in the Effortless Rest position, but I’m going to experiment with some of the alternatives.  My sister’s cat has been staying with us, which has made the prone position difficult.  It’s pretty startling to have a cat jump on your chest during pranayama. Today I did the seated in a chair version.

I started a notebook to keep track of my observations as we go through the book.  In the back, I’m keeping a list of reasons to do Pranayama.  My first reason:

  • My father died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), commonly known as emphysema. His years-long struggle to breathe is a powerful incentive to keep my lungs strong.

The next chunk of the book we’ll do for next time is through p. 46.  We decided that instead of every other week we would meet the second and fourth Sunday mornings of each month.  That way we don’t have to wonder about dates, and it will make it easier for others to join us.

Yes! Join us! The book is The Breathing Book, by Donna Farhi. We meet at 8:45 am, 2nd & 4th Sundays of the month, at Mirth, 8th & N.H., Lawrence, KS.

general blather

Breathing and moving

One of the great things about Sam Dworkis’s Recovery Yoga is the breathing instruction on connecting breath to movement.  For example, lying down, completely supported and having relaxed into the position, you inhale and raise your arm at the same time.  You make the raising of your arm correspond exactly to the inhalation, so that the inhalation is complete when your arm is fully raised.  Then you exhale your arm down in the same way.

When I started this, my shoulders didn’t like that arm raise, so I began with raising just my forearm.  I also experimented with opening and closing my fingers with my breath.

I’m trying to think of the words to explain why I like this so much.  It’s very peaceful.  It makes me aware of the power of my breath.  It smooths out my movement.  Much more that I can’t quite articulate.  Try it.  And read Sam’s books and look at his extremely informative website.

general blather, poses

Breathing

This morning on my walk, I was whining to my walking partner (14 years!) about having done nothing at all yesterday except lie around and feel bad.  Then I mentioned that I had done yoga, but it was all restorative.  She laughed.  “Get that ‘but’ out of there!” she said.  “You DID do something yesterday.  You did yoga, and it was all restorative.”  Wow.  Changing ‘but’ to ‘and’ made a huge difference.

On Saturday and Sunday, Mary Obendorfer was at our yoga studio for a workshop.  This is the first time I haven’t been able to attend the whole weekend’s worth of classes.  Mary is just great – warm, funny, sarcastic, a wonderful teacher with an enormous storehouse of knowledge.

I went to Pranayama classes both mornings.  Needless to say, I gave her a heads up about my health before class.  She was very alert to what I could and couldn’t do, and gave me different instructions at various points in the class.   In some ways, this illness is the universe’s way of getting my attention and getting me to start a pranayama practice for real.  Kind of a brute force method, but OK, I’m listening.

Mary also told me to do restorative inversions (rope Sirsasana, chair Sarvangasana, Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, etc.) with very long holds of 10 or 15 minutes.  She said it would make a big difference to my nervous system.  Sounds good to me.  AND it’s all restorative.  No buts about it.

Restorative means I’ll be restored.  I like that.

mulling things over

Late again! What is the deal?

It doesn’t matter how much time I allow for yoga early in the morning, it’s never quite enough.

I guess that’s not a bad thing, but the bad thing is that I finish up peacefully on the mat, hands in namaste, greeting the day, put my mat away, and then race upstairs takeashowergetdressedgetthepapereatbreakfasttearoutofthehouse! Not so good.

I need to make myself some sort of reminder. Stop a little earlier so I can breathe a little bit after yoga too. Maybe writing it here will help.

mulling things over

Checking in

The benefits of daily practice are just now coming back to me, after 6 weeks with only a couple of misses.

Benefit #1 – When you do something every day, you don’t evaluate it or even think about not doing it. You just do it. I can’t remember the last time I skipped brushing my teeth, for example. So now my morning practice is wedging itself into place in my routine. Yesterday I didn’t get to practice, for a variety of reasons. All day I felt sort of edgy about it.

Benefit #2 – Gosh, I’m more flexible already!  I sat on the floor today, not on any blankets, in Dandasana (staff pose), and I did not have to push against the floor to keep from flipping over backwards.  (I know this is not an issue for most people, but those iron hamstrings are what make seated poses so hard for me.)

Benefit #3 – I’m much more aware of my breathing all the time.  And more peaceful.

I’m going to stop there so I don’t sound so much like a Pollyanna.  I might add a few later.