Yoga for healing
How many times do you act like everything is 'normal' when inside you are dying?
How many times today have you pretended everything is fine?
The coffee was too bitter, I should have gone to bed earlier. (Insert partners name here) didn't put away the toothpaste.
But those are small things. Things that don't interrupt the balance. We tell ourselves, "that's life."
What if someone offered to help? Maybe make you a different cup of coffee? What if your partner left the toothpaste out for you to get easily and on purpose so that you don't fumble around at 4 or 5am?
Would you accept it?
When learning Eka Pada I got the right foot behind the head. And then I pushed the chin up with both hands. I felt a sharp pull along the QL, a knife stabbing me somewhere near the spine.
I remember reading somewhere that yoga was gentle. That you can't get injured practicing yoga because you are in the moment and mindful of what you are doing. Yoga was about breathing, about being flexible. It was about impressing people with my stupid human tricks.
Momentarily I was fine, I was alive and still breathing. I could feel my toes. But I was aware that something wasn’t right.
I quickly finished, and sheepishly left the room after doing a limp closing sequence. I was embarrassed. Physical pain and emotional hurt.
My ego had gotten in the way and was driving the ship. I didn’t say anything to my teacher. I didn’t want to admit that I needed help.
How many times do you act like you are fine when you are dying inside?
We don’t want to admit that we need help.
When someone offers to help move a chair or lift a box . . . We usually say, ‘I’m fine, thanks.’
We choose to live in a ‘tolerable’ amount of pain or discomfort. We don’t want to be a ‘burden’ on someone.
We tell ourselves, ‘They are busy, they have more important things to do than worry about me.’
We stay with our discomfort until it becomes too intolerable.
But behind the ego and insecurities we could all use a little help. But the help isn’t outside of us.
Help doesn’t come from outside. Not at first.
I felt like a grandpa after pulling out my back. Taking Motrin to relieve the pain, holding on to and leaning on walls, I was in a bad way. Help wasn’t coming to me simply because I was injured. No one was rushing to my side.
I had to ask for help.
That meant admitting that I couldn’t do it on my own.
In my college days I worked in a book store. I had an endless supply of books to read and was a great place to meet women. I read lots of poetry, fiction, and religious books, impressive things. But I stayed out of the self-help section. My manager had a term for those ‘new age’ books . . . ’Sew-age.’ The two rhymed and became solidified in my head as a joke.
Self-help was for thirty/forty-something’s who were lost and had given up on discovering life for themselves. They wanted someone else to give them the answer. They were afraid of pressing the wrong button on the VCR, afraid of failing, looking like an amusing clown.
Those ‘Sew-age’ books were a band-aid for a deeper issue.
In this Mysore practice not much is said. Exam inhale, arms up . . .
We aren’t told to, ‘Inhale, activate the quads, soften the gluteus, retract the abdomen, don’t let the low ribs lift, soften the traps, lift the chin away from the shoulders, fix the eyes on the thumbs. Dve . . .’
That gets figured out later, when we need it, maybe by a teacher, maybe not.
Mysore isn’t a self-help book. It’s not a band-aid.
It is self-exploration.
It’s not holding your hand saying everything is ok, you are a good person, your smart enough, and people like you.
Sometimes we get hung up and worried about the feet being turned out in back bends. If there isn’t any pain, simply worry about coming up. If coming up is easy . . . work on the feet from a stable position. If you are listening to someone who has been practicing for 10/15 years and practices Advanced B and they say, ‘the feet ‘need’ to point forward . . .’ Remember that they are practicing a very different practice then the student learning to come up.
That’s like teaching an infant how to tie their shoes before they can walk. And then not letting them try to walk until they *have* tied their shoes.
It's all relative, to a point.
Self-exploration. Not self-help.
There isn’t an answer outside.
What works for you?
When I pulled the QL muscle, I turned to my foundation, something that works, *for me*. The scientific method.
Systematically observe. Possible not possible. How far possible?
The entire practice became an experiment. Only standing asana was possible. My breath was slow. I was weak and I was scared about doing further damage.
Each day I formulated a plan and applied the test during practice. I made notes, did research. Data:
This worked. This hurt, don’t do tomorrow. Why did it hurt?
With all of these notes I realized I had accumulated information about which asana work the QL muscles in the way that can access them for Eka Pada. So much teaching was there.
When I healed I was able to apply these notes to the practice. A new hypothesis. A new test.
It's a long walk alone. But fortunately once you ask for help there are a number of great resources available, primarily, the practice.
The first step is getting so uncomfortable that you need to ask for help.
Here are 5 resources for self-exploration when you are ready to ask for help.
Your Teacher; Ask. Certification / Authorization means that they are recognized to teach ashtanga by KPJAYI, we are not mind readers and don't have X-ray vision, yet.
FB Community - Ashtanga Home Practitioners; A great group of students/teachers who provide support and keep it real.
DL & Print the Ashtanga Nurse Asana guide and fill in the blanks with your own self exploration.
Anatomy & Physiology The inner workings of the human body.