Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Way Back ( to practice) - 8. One posture, it can be enough

Here's something curious, and that ties together perhaps my two previous posts, the one on Krishnamacharya's mahamudra and the earlier one on Ashtanga and Sweat.


In the instructions for mahamudra from Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda Part II (AG Mohan) we find this line

"For advanced trainees, who observe BRAHMACARYA, who live in a cool place and can have rich food, maximum of 32 rounds of breath can be done for each side, with control of breath for 5 seconds each round".

Why in a COOL PLACE do you think?

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I wrote this post yesterday but never got around to finishing it, I've included an update from this morning

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Tuesday 16th July
The Kidney stone seems to have shifted a little, for the first time all week I've been able to sit up for a significant period. Unfortunately it's a hell of a lot more painful than it was and the medication doesn't seem to be keeping up but at least it's moving suggesting it's going to come out on it's own.

If I can stand, sit, move about, then I can practice a little perhaps enough to encourage Caracalla on his way  (in joke, it was suggested we name Kidney stones, like hurricanes) .


Practice was one posture, mahamudra

If I could take only one posture to a desert island, my desert island disc posture, then it would have to be mahamudra.

There are a number of mudras mentioned in hatayoga texts and many of them regularly practised too. Mahamudra leads this package of mudras recommended by Svatmarama in his Hatayogapradipikefrom January 2013 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami---MUDRA

But then of course part of the joy of yoga and asana practice in particular is that if you were stuck on a desert island it would come into it's own, what do you need to practice but the will to practice.


You can lead in and out of mahamudra nicely from standing, in typical Ashtanga Vinyasa fashion. Krishnamacharya includes a forward bend option in his Yoga makaranda II variations turning it into janu Sirsasana A from Ashtanga primary series. There are a lot of options for the breath. Ramaswami has several asana variation of the mudra in his Complete book of Vinyasa Yoga. And then there's the form of the mudra found in Yoga Makaranda I where the straight leg is opened out 30 degrees resulting in a gentle twist.

I practiced it (mahamudra) this morning, starting from standing and coming back to standing between sides, ten breaths a side, laying back into savasana after the second side then back to standing.

That was my asana practice.

Followed by a gentle 108 of  kapalabhati, a little nadi shodana (alternating nostril) pranayama with gentle bandhas and short retentions.

Finished off with a forty minute guided pain meditation from Ines Freedman.

Short but sweet practice..... one posture, it can be enough.

This evening I did the same but with shorter pranayama and an unguided 10 minute pain meditation. Hit record at the beginning and left it running. You can see how hesitant, how cautious I still am, not wanting to engage anything too deeply. It's a beginning.



Update: 17th July
Stone certainly seems to be on the move, encouraging, suggests it's going to come out on it's own, I'll know from the scan this afternoon.

So on the one hand moving is good, on the other..... uncomfortable. Typical Kidney stone shuffle as you try to find the elusive position that will offer some relief, will come out of this with more postures than Krishnamacharya discovered/rediscovered in a lifetime.

I was concerned before that where the stone seemed to be hanging out was being pressed up against by the pelvis when seated. I didn't want to irritate it any more than necessary so didn't practice, besides hurt like hell.

Now it seems lower and I wonder if a little light practice might be beneficial, a few gentle twists, hints of forward and back bends to shoo it along a little further. Stimulate blood flow too.

This morning then, once the nausea passes, ( not the existential kind, seems to be something to do with where the stone is currently sitting) the plan is to take yesterdays practice a little further, from one posture to one subroutine based on mahamudra  but approaching it in an Ashtanga vein, coming back to standing after each variation.

One subroutine, it can be enough.


from my Ashtanga Yoga Home Practice Book


10 comments:

  1. Owww, Grimmly. My heart goes out to you.

    I had a student who started as a beginner with me; within the first month, started passing multiple kidney stones, was in a lot of pain and of course scared shitless. Stopped all practice....

    The stones passed, but he's understandably hesitant about Ashtanga, now. I am going to share your blog posts with him. Perhaps it will inspire him to return and persevere.

    And, remember: this, too, shall pass! :) I hope you heard good news from your scan today.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Michelle, hopefully not much longer, feels like it's moving, planning on going back to work tomorrow. Scan was frustrating this afternoon, Radiographer seemed to be having a bad day, refused to give me any hints as to size and location, says I have to wait for her to send the report to my GP. That could take a week, hopefully it'll be out by then.
    I still have this theory that the practice is good for moving any stones out of the kidneys before they get too big. And of course the other theory that I should avoid sweating TOO much during practice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those dang medical professionals who lack ahimsa! I had an ultrasound tech that was like that once, too. Heavy sigh.

      I haven't read through all your blog posts (I was at Nancy G's workshop and will blog about it shortly) but I'm guessing you've talked to your teacher, Ramaswami about this? I'd imagine he'd have some great advice for you if you haven't done so, maybe see what he could offer in terms of your theory.

      I would think that the practice is good for moving stones out of the system, too.

      As for the sweating, Nancy said something interesting, and Christine Hoar backed it up (and I can attest to it, too from my own 16 years): your body acclimatizes to the practice over time, and the sweating becomes less...copious. They both recommended sitali pranayama for cooling the body down in hot weather (which really works, I've found), and of course, ayurvedic eating habits to help with seasonal temp fluctuations and changes, too. But, I'm sure you know this.

      Just keep going...carefully. Be well!

      Delete
    2. I haven't asked Ramaswami, he's teaching his TT at LMU at the moment and I didm't want to trouble him (so English).
      "body acclimatizes to the practice".
      I think that's true in many ways, you get fitter for one, stronger for another, more flexible too so you can get into the binds with less effort. Pacing improves as well as moving your body weight in space such that you let physics do more of the work, all these make it less of an effort and of course you finally twig that it's all about conserving energy.

      That said in the hotter months (and Lisa just mentioned she's teaching in a room 95-125 degrees) even though you may have 'acclimatised to the practice' your still going to get hotter and sweatier no? That's why we practice earlier in the day. Interesting they mention sitali but then I imagine that's at the end of the practice, I think I'm suggesting something like pausing after standing and do some sitali then and after navasana and before finishing as well as after. Bit Radical?

      Yes, will go very careful until it's out and even then perhaps just standing first few days and then half primary. Hopefully get a week of Full primary in before Crete gods willing

      Delete
  3. Is Mahamudra same as eka-paada-Paschimottanasana? Hope you feel better soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People call things by different names in different styles/approaches Anon. MahaMudra is a mudra not an asana. Eka pada paschimottanasana might be a name somebody has used for an asana version of a similar posture. have a look at the pervious post, big pictures of Krishnamacharya doing it as well as two sets of instructions for hi approach.

      Delete
    2. Just wanted to note that the two are not the same; as you have mentioned one is a mudra and the other an asana. Further, in Paschi, one bends all the way so the chest touches the leg/knee. (My doubt because my Paschimottananasana eka-paada version, looks like this since I can either keep my knee straight or bend all the way, which includes bringing the knee up too. :p) Again, best wishes for a speedy recovery and expeditious return to a comfortable (and complete) practice!

      Delete
  4. Thank you for the wonderful blog. And most of all hope you feel better soon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. hey Anthony,
    sorry to hear of your troubles. Something shared by Nicki Doane at a March workshop might be of interest. The pose Simhasana, or lion's pose, is a great aid in digestion and elimination. Cross your legs four fingers width above the ankle. Most people will experience a lot of discomfort sitting in this pose and need to build up slowly. The kidney, spleen and liver is being detoxed. A family member suffered for many years from parasites picked up in India, and found no relief with conventional medicine. He consulted a teacher in India and apparently this pose, practised daily, was what cured him finally.

    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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