Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Ashtanga Primary ; The stench of a detox practice.

OK I'm going to go all Henry Miller on you so you might not want to read this while eating your breakfast.

One of the things I remember from when I first started practicing Ashtanga was the smell. I would sweat buckets and I have to say, I stank. My body stank, the clothes I was wearing stank, the towel I practiced on, they all stank. This went on for about six weeks and then the smell went away. All the gunk in my body, built up over the years sweated out of me by the practice. Of course, if on my day off, say, I practiced and didn't shower right away I would notice the stale sweat smell after a few hours, but this too went after few weeks of practice after becoming vegetarian. Now I can practice and even miss a shower if I'm running late and get away with it ( not a regular occurrence I hasten to add). How curious, I've always loved this detox aspect of the practice.

I don't tend to drink much anymore, I water my wine turning it viryually into grape juice, half an inch of wine, the glass topped up with fizzy water, actually it's pretty much just coloured water. Saturday's though are cocktail night, it's the only evening I get to spend with M and we celebrate it with a martini, sometimes two (although these have tended to be watered down lately also) and if it's Japanese food then there will be a pot of Sake, very occasionally two. Apart from finding the balancing poses a little more difficult the following morning, the main thing I notice is the smell of detoxing, sweating the alcohol out, it's a sweatier, smellier practice. I notice the same thing when practicing through a cold or flue.

This morning was my first Ashtanga practice since last Monday due to a couple of injuries picked up outside of practice, I've never taken more than two days off in a row before. I practiced Vinyasa Krama of course but that doesn't count when talking about detox. So first practice in a week and it was excellent, I was afraid I might have lost some strength but all my jump backs were fine even the half and full lotus, the half Kino jump through I do coming into a floating dandasana before lowering, all fine. Nailed my Mari D at the wrist, lifted feet in Kurmasana, LBH entry to Supta K and one of my best ever Badha konasanas, heels much closer to the body yet knees still flat to the floor. I was sweating buckets and my arms seemed to slide in almost to the shoulder in Garbha pindasana. Drop backs too were good, I'd been practicing through a little pain in the left psoas for the last few weeks but that seems to have healed up over the week off. My point here is that despite a week off I hadn't lost my practice, if anything the practice was better, fresher. We get so paranoid about taking a couple of days off sick, or what might happen if we're laid off through injury but I needn't have worried practice was delicious.

Oh and it had a Vinyasa Krama tinge to it too. I started with ten minutes of tadasana sequence before my Surys, stayed in paschimattanasana for five minutes, spent time in maha mudra before lowering to Janu A and took a long long Sarvangasana. I gave headstand a miss though because of the tooth. I also chanted my mantra split between the inhale and exhale throughout the practice.

So a good long sweaty practice. I threw on a T, ate my grapefruit and went up to take a shower. When I took my shirt off I sniffed it and there was the most disgusting smell, almost acidic. I should mention that I've been taking anti inflammatories for an inflamed coccyx and antibiotics for a tooth abscess that made my whole face swell up. I'm not sure if the sweaty stench came from the pus in my tooth, the drugs, or just not having practiced for a week, I suspect a little of each.

Now I love my Vinyasa Krama practice but have never experienced the same sense of detoxing I find in ashtanga. I'm sure there must be some going on due to the long Ujaii but it's not the same. That sweating everything out every morning combined with the Ujaii breathing seems a potent combination.

Makes me wonder too what it must be like in the newly opened shalas. Do you have twenty to forty newbies coming to their first practice sweating out several years of gunk from their bodies? Lovely, kind of glad I practiced alone those first six weeks. What saints Ashtanga teachers are.

Because I feel I need for this this detox I'm switching my practice around again. Ashtanga back to the mornings and I'm going to stick with just primary for a couple of weeks to get my focus and discipline back. I want to explore this chanting the mantra through the practice for an extended period more too, I've done it a couple of times but want to try it every day for a month or so, seems to work better though Primary. The evening will be like the summer course at LMU, fifteen minute vigorous asana practice then forty minutes pranayama, twenty minutes meditation.

Mouse Update.

I mentioned a few weeks back that I had a mouse in the house which I caught with a humane trap and let go in the woods. At the time I regretted not filming the release. This weekend we found we had another mouse but managed to film letting it go.

9 comments:

  1. Yes, god bless the saintly ashtanga teachers, that is exactly how it is! At
    Pure we can have an average of 30 people out of which maybe 15 well,perhaps 10 are really sweating, seems to be more notorious in guys, but I have never smelled anything, other than way back way at sutra where we once had an incident of a particular student, but that was mostly cause of the rug that needed a good wash...

    Let's see how the change in routine goes, and cute about the mouse. We are having a situation here where the bedroom smells pretty bad since we turned on the fireplace on Sunday. I canint find anything in spite of having opened the thing and searched with a flashlight and all, but nope! Only the smell... Something is roosting...arggg...oh well, will have to wait on the landlord to come over... At least your little guy maded it out alive...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh god, perhaps it was just me, (blush) wish I hadn't posted it now : )

    Yeah he got out alive but It's going to be a cold night and there are owls and cats around....... that's it, I'm going up to find him, bring him back to his nice warm house. He's a house mouse, Mus musculus domesticus he has no SAS survival skills, what have I done !

    Oh you rent, I thought you owned that beautiful house.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You know, I just don't sweat. I can push and do a whole primary to the point of jelly collapse at the end and maybe be *slightly* moist, maybe. If I really crank on the mula bandha, I can sweat a teeny bit. I've always been so intrigued by the whole detox portion of the ashtanga path, but I don't think I'm getting any of it, at least not through sweating. I feel so cheated! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ha, ha, ha

    Yeap, HB is known for declaring that owning a home is just a myth from last century, totally outdated, he convinced me... and so far so happy

    funny about the mouse, indeed he is in for a wake up call in the woods...

    ReplyDelete
  5. As I am new to the Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga practice I experience a lot of sweating by the time I finish Sun Salute A& B and it extends while I continue with the standing postures .I feel this to be normal and once u get very regular in your practice and have a proper diet ,the sweating will come down .

    ReplyDelete
  6. Maya you must be half lizard or something, sorry you feel cheated, perhaps you just don't need detoxing. M is like that, only sweats if she's really sick.

    Been doing it six to seven days for three and a half years Krishna and the sweating hasn't come down yet. At least I don't tend to have to worry about water sprays

    ReplyDelete
  7. Grimmly

    I feel that there is nothing wrong even if u sweat after 3-4 years of dedicated Ashtanga practice .It is body's way of detoxifying you .

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree Krishna, that was kind of my point, I don't get that sweaty detox aspect in Vinyasa Krama.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Grimmly

    I have elaborated on your last comment in my blog about the difference between Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga practice v/s Normal Hatha Yoga practice and there is a vast difference in them .Ashtanga Vinayasa Yoga practice is distinctly different from the way normal yoga is being practiced and that is what makes it unique .So for people who want to really detoxify and see an improvement in their body shape Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the best tool at their disposal .So kindly go through my blog for the post on Ashtanga Vinayasa v/s Normal Hatha Yoga practice.

    ReplyDelete

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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