30 Days of Yoga: Day 9 – no yoga 

I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts lately and was planning to go to a class today, in the end decided I was too tired and cold. So today’s yoga was no yoga. 

I’m finding the 30 day challenge quite hard, especially when it’s just me & my yoga mat. Going to class is easy, practicing at home isn’t. I think focusing on routine next week might be helpful, finding a grove and turning up on my mat at the same time each day. Perhaps before work, even if it’s just a 10-15min meditation.

 

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30 Days of Yoga: Day 7 

Today I did two things towards my 30 day commitment. I’ve picked up a book called “Awake in the world” by Michael Stone, teachings from Yoga and Bhuddisim for living an engaged life. I’m quite interested in yoga philosophy and as I return to work I’d like to find better life/work balance, I think this book will help. I also went to my Iyengar class. Wednesday is the intermediate class and I really enjoy it, tonight we got to do backbends. I love backbends and have been feeling a little flat, backbends are great for depression apparently. Bring it on I say! 

  

30 Days of Yoga: Days 4 -6

The days are flying by! Today is day 6 of my 30 days of yoga challenge. I’ve been on the mat, however my practices at home are a bit half hearted. Yesterday I did nothing. Today I did a short practice & finished with a yoga nidra*. During the yoga nidra I fell asleep, so I’m obviously still pretty worn out from the travel and from being unwell. Today I was going to go to an evening class but I’ve decided not to, I’ll have a bath instead. My reserves are quite low and it’s too cold outside.

* yoga nidra is  like a guided meditation and is very relaxing, its known as ‘yogic sleep’ but you aren’t actually supposed to fall asleep.

30 Days of Yoga: Day 3

It is day 3 and I’m back in London. Today I went to my usual Iyengar yoga class and it was tiring but lovely. I’m jet lagged, anaemic and seriously lacking in strength. I got through the class OK but had to modify towards the end as I could’t hold myself up for shoulder stand or head stand. Because of my iffy neck I’ve not been able to do either for months now, so I have an alternative finishing sequence.

I’m 95% OK to modify in class these days and I’m happy to drop out of a posture and into child’s pose when I need to. This is a huge step from where I was before hip surgery when I’d go to classes and get frustrated. To be fair, before surgery I couldn’t do 75% of the class without triggering pain in my hip so no wonder I got pissed off with myself! These days I’m progressing in my practice and feel my strength is returning very slowly but surely.

 

30 Days of Yoga – Day 2: Being ok with imperfection

This morning my yoga practice happened in a spare 30min before going on a big flight. I was in my dad’s living room and I really enjoyed the heat of Thailand. My body loves the heat and it’s always easier for me to practice in a warm climate. My sacrum/lower back has been playing up and I’ve been getting nerve pain around the back of my pelvis and down my legs. This has happened before, so no cause of alarm. It usually settles in a few days and I have a few yoga postures I know help. So today, instead of doing the yoga practice from the online course, I chose to do my own thing. I am at a stage with my yoga that I can make stuff up and feel ok about doing that. During the practice feelings bubbled up around acceptance of imperfection. Imperfection in my body (the fatigue, chronic pain and ongoing injuries) and imperfection in my life.

There are a few things about my imperfect life that I need to accept, but there are some things that I can’t accept and that’s around my physical body. After years of chronic pain I’m STILL trying to regain fitness and strength. This is for two reasons, one I’ll feel better about myself and two, I really need to be stronger/fitter to have a life where I don’t need to worry about these silly little annoying injuries. I really want to be physically fit again. I think I’m at a speed bump and I need a little effort to get past it.

So today, it was a nice yoga practice and I’m looking forward to next week. I’m heading back to London today and will be doing my yoga practice in my own home. I’ve got a lovely space and feel very committed to the 30 days. I expect it will be a mix of going to classes and practicing at home. I’d like to integrate daily meditation into my practice too. I don’t mind what I end up doing, as long as I roll out the mat, check in with myself and spend some time on the mat.

I must say, I love the online course. I’m working through the booklet and it feels like Marianne is practicing alongside me. Her guidance and words of wisdom are definitely going to help me throughout the 30 days. There is also a Facebook group (closed group) that is there for support and encouragement.  

 

30 Days of Yoga – setting the intention

I started yoga in December 2008 while travelling India. I was on a 4-5 month trip around Nepal and India and thought ‘while I’m in india I might as well try yoga’. So I googled and google led me to Vinay Kumar of Prana Vashya Yoga. I turned up to his small shala (yoga school) naively believing that yoga was simply a form of exercise. His intensive course is rather intensive and I learnt that yoga is so much more. I was hooked, a year later I went back to do the intensive but while preparing for the trip I injured my hip at the gym. I know that yoga is partially to blame for my hip injury. As is the gym. I was doing a deep squat with 20kg on my back and ‘ping’ – I tore ligamentum teres the ligament right at the top of the femur. Ouch.

I have learnt the hard way that too much flexibility can be a bad thing. I’ve learnt that some of my joints are hyper-mobile and this means yoga comes easily to me. It also means I can injure my joints easily, hence the sore ankles, knee, sacrum, shoulder and neck. I’ve learnt that I need to use my muscles to stabilise my joints. So good muscle tone is important and regular massage is necessary.

For almost 5 years I couldn’t attend classes without really flaring up my hip pain. Since I arrived in London I’ve managed to return to yoga asana (postures) slowly and carefully. I’d say it was a year after my 2nd surgery that I started to feel ‘normal’ in class and stopped needing to modify the class to suit the hip. I am learning to ‘pull back’ a little when I’m doing yoga to avoid over stretching my ligaments.

Because of the hyper-mobility I have had to learn to create new good habits and focus on using the right muscles, this is really hard and takes a lot of concentration. It is very easy for me to cheat in a yoga class and use my flexibility to make pretty shapes! Iyengar yoga has been great for learning good technique and my yoga teacher Lorraine from Art of Yoga has been helping me build a strong foundation for my yoga practice. Iyengar yoga is very traditional and involves holding the postures for a longer time than most other types of yoga, there is also a focus on correct alignment and not much flow. I think its a great choice for people with injuries or chronic pain.

After months of Iyengar yoga my physiotherapist told me I now need to challenge my joints and that a flowing yoga practice (vinyasa) would be good for me. I was very happy to hear this as my old yoga practice was flowing and my body loves to move. So for the last few months I have been experimenting with various classes in London and to be honest I have been horrified with what I’m finding and am struggling to find a teacher I can work with. Yoga in the west appears to be interpretive and I feel the teachings from India are getting so diluted, sometimes what is called yoga is not actually yoga.

In a way, not finding a second London teacher is good as it is encouraging me to work on my home practice. After a few weeks of trying to do my own home practice with mixed results, I’ve signed up for Marianne Elliott’s 30 days of yoga. Marianne was one of my favourite teachers in Wellington back in 2009/2010. She is an inspirational woman (check out her website) and her online yoga course has elements of movement, flow, kindness and mindfulness. Just what I’m looking for.

I’ve signed up for her ‘Energising and opening flow’ as my injuries are relatively minor and I feel ready for this type of practice. She has included a restorative class for the days when I’m not up for a strong practice.

My intention for the next 30 days is simply to turn up to the mat, check in and listen to my body. Then I will practice with ease and joy. My intention is to enjoy the yoga, have fun and let go a little. I will use this blog to journal my progress.  Wish me luck!