Thursday, May 27, 2010

Two Learnings From On the Mat

Hi again from London. It's been busybusybusy since Tuesday when we got here, but I managed to squeeze in a blog post today. Hurray!

Warning: This is gonna be a boring magnifying-glass-on-my-practice post today.

I went to AYL today for the first practice I've had in about a week since I came down with a cold last week. Was severely dreading it since... well... the first practice after a break is always a tough one, innit.

I was pleasantly surprised. And came away with 2 new things I learned today.

The first is: I make a lot of excuses for my dropbacks. HAHA. I always think "If I haven't practiced Intermediate, my dropbacks are going to be lousy coz my back isn't as open." Or... "Since I haven't practiced in a while, my dropbacks are going to be lousy." Y'know.. generally being defeated before I've even tried it. And today I wonder how much of that is true and how much of it is just a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Since today's the day before the moon day, it's Primary practice only... Which suited me just fine. By the time I came to backbends, I was already thinking "OK, I don't think I'll do dropbacks today, just backbends." Y'know... thinking I'd take it easy since it's the first practice back on the mat after a week. Besides, my dropbacks are ALWAYS terrible after a break from practice for < insert whatever back/ chest opening reason/ excuse here >.

But somehow after backbends I decided "Screw it, I'm here now, I might as well try, right". I mean - the first time I was at AYL, I'd bonked my head on the floor in the first dropback ever... so what did I have to lose now. The first dropback was OK - I was just so afraid to bonk my head on the floor that I lifted my heels just as I reached the floor. But I did it. Standing back up again was a little sloppy, with a bit of a backward bounce as I stood up. But I did it.

Okaaaay. That was different. Usually the first one is the worst one, and that didn't turn out too badly. The other 2 progressed along rather uneventfully too. So... I did it. No fanfare, but the self-realization that so much of the "I can't do this or that without first going through some other ritual" is all just stuff I've made up in my head. Reasons I give myself that hold me back from just getting on with it.

So... From now on, I don't really have an excuse not to do dropbacks, nor expect they'll be crap and not try. Right?

The second realization is more of a physical-body one. I need to get me back to an Osteopath, pronto.

Today, my backbends didn't feel terribly tight, but they felt extremely off. "OFF" in the crooked sense. I have this pelvic rotation which leads to a slight scoliosis in my tailbone... So I'm always a little bit OFF in the spine somehow, but today felt especially MORE OFF. As in: In the backbend, it felt like I was pushing more through my left side and had to work hard at getting the left heel to stay grounded on the floor. It felt absolutely crooked.

After dropbacks, Teacher H came round to help me with assisted dropbacks. On the final one where I dropped all the way back to the floor and walked hands in, he did something a little different - put his arm under my left back and pulled on it. That gave me an instant "A-HA!" moment. What kind of A-HA... I have NO IDEA, but it felt like an expansion in the left side and it almost felt a little weirdly crooked.

When I came back up again, H asked me "You have one leg shorter than the other?" ...At this point I need to digress and say that question stung me in a really weird place. I felt awkwardly imperfect and exposed and a bit embarrassed. Yeah, it was a completely harmless observation about my body but I felt really inadequate (I know, like WTF, right? I was amazed I had that kind of a strong, weird reaction too)

So anyway, I explained about my pelvic rotation which gets my left sacrum stuck and yes, it gets my left leg a bit shorter sometimes (usually an Osteo or Chiro can sort the sacrum out and the legs are the same length again). H had seen it in my last backbend and what he did was straighten my back out. That was the weird expansion on my left side that also felt crooked, of all things (even though I was technically straight). It's all relative, right... when you've been used to "crooked" feeling "normal" for a while... then when things go back to "normal" they won't immediately feel "normal" again. Know what I mean. But I felt a split-second high.

It was kinda cool seeing just how crooked I am, in a yoga environment. I mean, usually it's the other way around... where I'm on the Osteopath's table trying to make sense of what's going on within the pelvis, trying to envisage it working in 3D. This time I felt it all working in the body.

So... yeah, I think because I haven't been to an Osteopath since moving to Amsterdam, it's all gone wonky all over again. Sigh.

Sorry for the long and boring post. They're just my very personal insights from today.


  1. hi Skippety
    no, that's interesting. our bodies are not perfect. my right shoulder pops out a little and in downward dogs, teachers can make it even out, although, just as you experience, being evened out does not feel like it to the body. I also list to the left on navasana or any poses that require lifting both legs at the time. and the left lower back is where massage therapists spot tightness (and pain). i think there is more to it and i'm discovering it. i think the yoga makes us more aware of these things.


  2. Absolutely right, Arturo! I've found the combination of body awareness from yoga, trips to the osteopath or chiropractor help make sense of what's going on, on a structural level. It all made more sense after they tok Xrays of my spine too.


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