Sunday, 7 July 2013

Updated: The way back - Six weeks off regular practice...Manju looming ever larger

After all that History, some narrative

A soap, a hospital drama perhaps....

Let me see it's been a little over six weeks since I got the viral throat infection,

no ujjayi no practice 

or at least not much of one to speak of, I practiced but had to cut it back to the barest minimum.

The worst of the throat virus calmed down after, what, two or three week ( although I can still feel something not quite right when I swallow) that was followed by a head-to-toe hive like skin rash. I was paranoid about allowing my body to get too hot or sweaty so, again, lightest practice, a cool room, practicng as slowly as possible and with the lightest ujjayi to try and avoid generating any heat.

See this post

Sunday, 16 June 2013
Updated: Superman bound - Sick for a month!

That took a week to pass with some anti histamine and I managed to get a couple of good but light practices in. Went easy the first couple of days then practiced full Primary on the Sunday but still not going too deeply into postures.

It was during that Sunday practice that I experienced a sudden low back pain after marichi D (or supta kurmasana can't remember which) that it turns out is probably kidney stones rather than the pulled muscle I'd suspected.

pretty little bugger

See these posts perhaps

Tuesday, 18 June 2013
UPDATED "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!" - Name the tweaked muscle (modelled by the Feminist Ryan Gosling)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Back pain follow up (this morning's modified practice) and peek inside of Sharath's 'new' book on Primary Series

Friday, 21 June 2013
Some closure to the back problem story arc

Sunday, 30 June 2013
Still No Primary, Manju TT Looming

So I cut back practice here too for the first week, mostly gentle backbends from 2nd series and Ramaswami's Bow sequence. Thank you Ramaswami for the Vinyasa Krama Tool Chest

A week ago the pain dropped down the the frount of my abdomen and into the groin, like the grip of an old crone (tmi). So I stopped practicing altogether, just a little pranayama, had thought the pain in the groin was referred pain from the damaged muscle, nope.

Yesterday I went to the GP and he was pretty sure it was indeed most likely Kidney stones (scans to come sometime next week) rather than a herniated disc or anything else I'd begun to fear.

The dreaded Kidney stones, still remember rolling around in agony the last time, trying to practice pranayama to get me through the longest of nights. NOT looking forward to that again but figured it was probably safe to start practicing at least, part of me thinks it might even help squeeze the stone(s) out ( See Oscar's story below).

Was actually almost pleased when he said it was Kidney stones, suggesting that it wasn't the yoga (except perhaps in a good way in dislodging the stone early) and that I could practice, how crazy is that.

See this post on the last time I had Kidney stones following a month of green smoothies

Monday, 7 May 2012
Kidney Stone Practice

And this comment from my friend Óscar on the previous about his experience with Kidneys stones and Yoga.

  1. Hi Anthony, maybe I already told you. I want to share with you a experience:
    in my first year of practicing yoga in 1998, I can say that I make myself a kidney stone atack (as it called in spain, I dont know in english) doing a "difficult" movement turning my body between two cars parked in order to get into my car, that produced a strong inner massage or just movement to all my abdominal content. few minutes after I felt a strong pain in my back (kidney I think) when I was drinving but after a while breathing and focus it desapear. One and two days after, the pain came back stronger, until I couldnt resisted it, so I went to the hospital and that time I realized It was kindney stone. At that moment a take in consideration that this pain was the same as the pain in the car two days ago, so for that reason I can say what was the cause. A strong contraction on the kidney is thought one reason to make stone reale from the walls of the kidney conducts.
    Many analgesycs during one day in hospital and then come back at home. At home 10 days of terrible pain, almost everymovement was painful, walk, sitting on chair, lying on bed... following the doctor recomendations: drink much water and see if the stone goes out. After 10 days doing nothing at all, just drink and rest and feelling pain, not enjoy at all, on that time I was very active with physical and sports... so I was getting boring, suffering and nothing was getting better.
    In that moment of desperation on my bed I thought maybe yoga (the little I could do I thought couldn´t be bad) could help (in that period I only know sivananda: asanas, pranayama, meditation and savasana). I could move myselt very slow in order to not experience any pain, after a few asanas I could breath deeper, and after 20-30 minutes I begun to sweat, my focus was very powerful. After that moment I didnt remember I was suffering 30 minutes ago. So I finish my practice, as any other day, I mean with the same confortable sensation. I could feel ardha matsyendransana very sensitive to my back and kidney pain, I can´t say how long I was in every asana, or how many breaths or how long every breath, the only thing I can say is that all of this information was coming from my own body sensations, and my breath was very deep and focus, and movement very slow and carefully. When the practice finish I went to the bathroom and the orine was dark brown almost black (10 days without color, very hydrated), I could find a little stone (made by pieces of salt that I broke with my fingers) maybe were more and bigger stone, but I didnt expect any change on my orina that I didnt care about it on tha very moment. That was the last chapter of my kidney stone, and this is the most rare experience on yoga. So I can say yoga can be helful but we need to be very careful and conscience about what we use and how we use.
    I hope you can find your solution, I know you will.

Manju's TT workshop in Crete is now only five weeks away.... and counting.

The viral infection was a bit of an an in swinger (curve ball), I'd always figured that if I couldn't practice asana for some reason I could at least practice pranayama but with this I'd lost both practices and with them some discipline. I ate a lot of ice cream to soothe the throat, and pretty much anything I felt like during the skin rash, comfort eating.

So I put on a little weight over the last few weeks not THAT much but enough. Weighed myself this morning 79.8 Kilo. Generally I tend to hover around 76-77kilo, 76 is my preferred practice weight. On Ramaswami's course I dropped to 75,  Crete even lower, too low actually at 74 kilos


79.8 kilo  = 175.92 lb = 12st 5
76.5 kilo =  168.65 lb =12st

So only a difference of 3 kilo / 6.6lb / half a stone, not so much but I'm usually a lean, muscular Ashtangi 76.5 rather than this softer 80 (almost)

M. has been gently (and lovingly, she misses the me on the left a little I think)) teasing me, saying that Manju will call me the 'fat one'....." Hey fat one you don't need breakfast, go wipe the floor". Or re assists "Try it on the fat one".
Wasn't I supposed to be less wrecked after all this yoga?

So I feel more than a little over my practice weight, undisciplined and practicing this morning, for the first time in a week with only light practice if at all for six weeks..... stiff, weak and generally not very bendy.

it's not really the weight that bother's me so much or even the sloppy practice but rather that these are signs of a slip in discipline, my minds distracted, just let it all go a little when I should perhaps have been even more disciplined.

Besides big birthday coming up, 50 in just over two weeks, wasn't really that bothered about it but was kind of planning on being a fit, healthy 50. Krishnamacharya was 50 in the old 1938 Black and White documentary below. Had thought about being in Mysore for my birthday this year and going up in the hills to do the exact same sequence...

Certainly not the only one who's dropped off the practice waggon for one reason or another, no broken bones but thought it might make an interesting series of posts documenting the process of finding the way back to full practice home.

Have you let your own practice slip? Been wanting to get it back?

I thought about starting on Sunday or Monday perhaps but that already sounded like putting it off, better to start right away if only with something light.

Saturday 6th June
First practice after a week, not even a Sury or tadasana.
Plan was to keep it simple just in case the doctor is wrong about the Kidney stones and it is muscular.

Started with a short simple, gentle tadasana sequence from Vinyasa Krama

Suryanamaskara A x5,  Sury Bx3 - really felt it at the back of the knees could barely keep my heels down, hardly much of a forward bend for the first five surys or so.

A hint at most of the standing postures but without going too deep especially in the twists

A delicate Sharath jump through, wrists felt weak.

Could feel the kidney stone pain in dandasana, doesn't like seated postures as if the illiac crest is pushing up into where the stone is (ouch).

Paschimottanasana, nbot comfortable with forward bends so again, just a hint at A and B

Jump back felt heavy and I don't want to risk injuring my wrists so going easy on these until I lose a kilo or two.

Janu sirsasana A or rather maha mudra to avoid the forward bend.

Baddha konasana, knees well off the ground but stayed there for ten breaths or so and they settled, didn't even consider the forward bend.

Avoiding inversions for now- we want the kidney stone to go down right.

badha padmasana

Short pranayama practice

Practice took about forty minutes or so, enough for the first day back. Tomorrow I'll wander through a full Primary minus inversions, a hint at least at all the postures, perhaps a few extra long breaths to allow my body to settle slowly into the postures. easy does it.

Fasted during the day today, an attempt to get some discipline back, ate in the evening.

First day back.
Sunday 7th

Woke up at 5am my usual time to get up, rolled over and went back to sleep (something I NEVER do), good start.

Pain in the side, Kidneys stones playing up a little (they seem to do that first thing in the morning), Nespresso drunk, post edited a little, practice then(yawn)

One day at a time, one practice at a time.....

Sunday 7th - practice

This is where we start from....

The Sury's really are remarkable, this (above) was the first,,,, by the fifth there was the beginning of a half decent forward bend by the end of the Sury B's it was... acceptable.

Standing was OK, reigned it in a little didn't engage as deeply as tempted but lengthened as much as possible.

A twinge when first settling into  dandasana but not as bad as before. The paschi's were better did A, B, C and even D again backing off a little but lengthening as much as possible.

Made extra effort to shift my body weight nicely to take as much work off my wrists in the jump backs and through, again Sharath's delicate hop. Thank You Sharath.

And it was turning into a nice practice, started sweating a lot so decided to err on the side of caution and move to finishing after navasana ( although I squeezed in baddha konasana B first). Still not sure about Inversions so raced through the finishing postures, I breath only in the shoulder stands, halasana etc, five breaths only in headstand.

Finished with the full Ashtanga pranayama and some meditation practice.

A good beginning, feel I can work from here but then it's the Wednesday, Thursday practises that is are the tough ones, those mid week practices that you just have to grind out sometimes until it all becomes a joy again.


  1. Luckily there are 7 other limbs that can still be is in everything we do especially dealing with not being able to do our asana practice. At least you can sit.

    1. That was the most frustrating thing Brad, I couldn't sit. With the throat virus I couldn't practice pranayama and with the back pain I had to settle for pranayama on the bolster, interesting but not the same. When the pain dropped to the groin I had to lay off any bandha work too.
      Should have pulled out some of those old pratyahara exercises I wrote about a year or to back, did work on Manju's chants a little more though.

  2. Hi Grimmly,
    I had the same iliac crest/si joint pain for over a year. I think mine stems from imbalance in my practice whereby one side has always been more flexible in the mari c n d.
    Anyway after over a year of pain and discomfort, i find some of these moves really help.

    If you are not sure what Constructive Rest Position or crp, it simply means lying on your back with your knees bent towards ceiling. This allows the sacrum to rest on the floor.

    1. Do a long hold malasana. Really squeeze your thighs in and try to find length in spine. After a couple of minutes or so, take crp and just feel whats going on. If the sacrum is off, you might feel a click every now n then as u lay there. What it does i think is by lengthening the spine n then taking crp, we can let gravity allow the sacrum to drop.

    2. Also try childs pose and then crp.

    3. A block under the sacrum helps to release that area.

    4. Knees to chest and then crp.

    5. Finally when u r ready, try doing small rocking back n forth and eventually to halasana.

    Hope this helps. All the best to u.

    1. Thank you for these anon, yes the crp works well , lot of these in Ramaswami's Supine sequence, was exploring them, love malasana, Sharath really should try and squeeze that into Ashtanga somewhere

      Anyway seems it's not back pain but Kidney stones, free to practice and try to move the little buggers further along.

  3. I've also really struggled with iliac crest/ SI joint problems. In the first few years of practice, I think they were too deep and too dormant initially, but I think as primary realigned and strengthened major joints and muscles, the same series of postures started to work on a deeper level. Pretty sure the condition stems from dysfunctional movement patterns (like leaning into one side more than the other all my life etc.). Once known it kind of changed the game for me and, instead of this posture, that series, it really became more about getting myself to function better. I've always used primary for curative stuff, and maybe Salabasana and it's variations and I've fine tuned a lot of the postures within to work on the joint (like getting both buttocks down in Marichi C & D for example). Also did lots of deep squats as I'd noticed tiny misalignments in my foundation. i.e. my heels would habitually be about 1/4" off axis. Lots of deep corrective cracks and pops and really feel good for it lately. To follow your lead too, it's helped being a home practitioner, because there's more anatomical 'feedback' than when you it's just you, your mat and your breath. Going to a shala is an amazing experience, but ideally I'd like to make it at least a 50:50 split. They both have huge, but different advantages.

    Regarding coming back from a break, I start over. Maybe just salutations, standing & light back bends, and then increase it on a daily basis as it revitalizes you and comes rushing back. It's a far, far quicker process than when you first started out, and often you come back in at a higher level because resting up is part of the transformation process.

    That's my take on it all anyway. Enjoy Manju.

  4. Thanks for this Steve, love these kind of posts/comments on making the practice work 'for you', the fine tuning.

    I think the illian crest thing is that it's pushing into where ever the kidney stones are currently sitting which is why it's painful....unless of course I have kidney stones AND a back strain.

    practice was OK this morning, was worried it might move things along and become seriously painful but so far so good.

    And yes gently does it, was thinking about exploring Monica's beginner's Ashtanga course manual, as if I was a complete newbie, as it was i just practiced as far as navasana and jumped to finishing, going to stick with that for the first week I think

    Manju getting closer but chilled about it. Chucking the five week countdown in for dramatic effect.

  5. Glad you're chilled about Manju. I was saying "go" when you thought your pain was musculo-skeletal but if you don't feel well enough to go this time there will be another chance.

    Attended part of a Nancy gilgoff workshop--I didn't take complete notes but I thought you might be interested in a couple of things: The practice seems to have been done and taught originally with great love and humor. Someone coming from iyengar practice was amazed to hear laughter coming from the studio. Guruji didn't care if you turned your feet out in backbending. This is a modern obsession.

    Generally there was a lot of wisdom shared, both practical and spiritual. Nancy's lovely spirit and lightness about the practice came though. I had had a very difficult week with family emergencies, lengthy car trips, and minimal practice and I almost chickened out. So glad I didn't. It was extremely worthwhile. Maybe more to come. I'll see.

  6. Yes a complete shift re Manju. Was getting more stressed about it a couple of weeks back, now it's a case of figuring I'll turn up however my practice is. The more stiff my practice is the more interesting the adjusts/assists might be. Hopefully the stone will be out in a couple of weeks.

    Thank you for sharing some of your Nancy notes/experience hopefully I'll get to go to her workshop next year, Everyone says there's a lightness and a lot of humour when practicing with Manju....when did we begin to take it all so seriously.

    If you do feel like writing your notes/experience.memories up more I could post them as a guest post, you can email them to me at grimmly2007, I'm on google mail. Doesn't have to be long, however much you feel like writing and perhaps a picture or two although I can always fish something out. Just a thought.



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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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