After a few positive in roads and a few more negative in roads, the hamstring issue was still finding itself alive and well! Two steps forward, a few back, two back, a mini-one forward and then what appeared to be just ‘back’.
Thus I very tentatively made my way to class on Tuesday night – tenatively being more psychological than physical. I had reached a level of feeling a bit teary as being a person of forward progress, I was emotionally starting to really struggle with being held back and not engaging in class from the strong place where I like to be. I could feel my ‘match fitness’ for class beginning to decline and that was also hard.
One thing is for sure in Bikram yoga – doing the postures on both sides is absolutely critical and so important – something which I may never have fully understood if this injury had not happened and my postures were not being done to the left side for what has felt like an eternity. I have also found that it is psychologically and physically harder to the class just doing it predominately to one side. The postures are designed in their specific sequence to give maximum benefit to all of the muscles, organs, bones, tissues and blood vessels of the body. When you are intensely holding a posture on one side, the rhythym is there to then move smoothly and carefully to the next side. This momentum allows the body to safely come out of the posture it has just been in, and sets up the balance it will feel by doing the same thing to the other side.
To stop in the middle of that momentum and just stand still, and not ‘go through’ to the other side, places pressure on your breathing as your breathing is no longer in the fluid momentum of the postures. You return to standing and your breathing suddenly has ‘no where to go’ and thus pounds out your chest. It then makes it quite a challenge to re-gain momentum through that, and rejoin the next set of postures.
All in all it has been a fascinating insight into the balance of the practice and the balance of the class. Despite my groaning and feeling sorry for myself, I am absolutely grateful for what this has taught me about the practice. I am heading off to LA in September to do the teacher training and knowing that I want to be the best teacher I can be, any knowledge about the practice, the effects of the practice, and the effects of of injury on our practice is so incredibly valuable.
My hamstrings are definitely a specific type of window to a lot right now!
When we wake up each morning and set about our day and head off to work, what part of ourselves might we have forgotten to say hello to? We’ve said hello to our partner, our children, our pets, or our neighbour, but have we said hello to ourselves?
For sure we’re operating as ourselves – we got up out of bed, showered and had breakfast, had 100 thoughts running through our minds, but all of this is exactly that: operational. Auto-pilot. It is not even acknowledging that we ARE a self, that we have a heart as well as our mind and that right down there in the depths of us is our soul. Soul?! That’s right – Soul.
That part of you that is the very core of your being. That part of you where you have conviction about who you are; that part of you that alerts you to when things are right and when things are wrong; that part of you that yearns for your heart and mind to be in alignment, so that your experiences in life will also be in alignment. That part of all of us which is so often scoffed at by others or ignored. But what good does it do any of us to ignore that we all have a soul? Without acknowledgement of our soul, how can we have acknowledgement, compassion or empathy for others? If we have closed off the door to our soul, neither can we hope to open that door to all of the wonderful experiences of life and love that can become part of us.
People sometimes ask me ‘Where is the soul?’. I answer by talking about where I find mine. When I connect to my soul, I connect to a place within myself that feels like my most ‘within’. I go through my heart to what feels like another, deeper reservoir where all of my mind-body-heart-spirit connections sit as one, and vibrate through all of the fibres of my being. I also get a feeling of love and warmth as I allow this connection, and the take time to nurture myself from this core. My soul tells me what I need to do in order to self-care, what I need to do in order to care for others and what I need to do in order to be in positive alignment with my life path.
There were times when my soul provided me with this message by negation – when experiences I was having or people I was associated with culminated in a feeling of pain within my soul. I therefore needed to learn and grow and change over time to create and engage in what I wanted my soul experiences to be. But we can’t avoid pain in our soul all the time – the passing of a loved one for example, can cause great pain at this most fundamental level. One thing is for sure though: our soul is our best friend and deserves our love, care and attention, so remember to say a heartfelt hello to yours every morning 🙂
26 postures, asanas, Bikram Yoga, breathing, challenge, dedication, determination, fitness, focus, fun, hatha yoga, health and wellbeing, hot room, learning, lifestyle, meditation, patience, Personal development, personal growth, pranayama, torture chamber, work life balance
Tonight’s class was fascinating. I went yesterday and had a really hard time with my hamstring injury. I am only doing the right side of some postures to prevent further injury to the left hamstring and it was surprising how hard that was! That is, I felt so unbalanced only doing one side! In addition to which, when you come out of one side of a posture and into the next, your breathing does carry a momentum. When you stop and just stand there, your breathing (well mine did!) tended to catch in my throat and jump out of my chest. So ironically, I found it more fatiguing to not do certain postures and then re-group to get into others.
This evening, I was mindful of how that would feel going into class, as the last two classes had taught me about this sense of ‘unbalance’. Like anything, ‘knowing’ what I was in for helped me to prepare my mind and regulate my breathing and it turned out to be one of the strongest classes I have done in a while – albeit several postures to one side!
Standing Head to Knee felt really good tonight and I actually HELD my head to my knee (right knee) for nearly the full 10 seconds!!! And I actually touched my head to my knee (left knee) which was really fantastic also as I always tend to wobble and drop out from the right leg 😉
Again that posture was very useful tonight to meditate with and to ground myself in the practice. Standing Bow was a bit frustrating though as I do love to try really hard in this posture and I was limited. But it will come again! Right side Triangle was strong, left side no go.
I decided then to have a really strong Floor Series and whatever energy I hadn’t used up in the Standing Series I would commit to the floor. Spine Strengthening Series then went really well and I am proud to say that I did the best floor Bow I have ever done!! This has been an incredibly hard posture for me to make headway on. That sense of discomfort of being on the belly against gravity and gently coaxing my spine to relax into the bend has been a challenge, and getting past that blockage has been a loooooooong time coming 😉 But today it felt really strong and I was really glad for that. I know next class may not be the same! But it’s there now in the muscle memory and all good things come from that! 🙂
So again my practice taught me about life and love: the life of patience, perspective and unexpected progress and the self-love that carries you through that to the next place you will be 🙂
26 postures, asanas, Bikram Yoga, breathing, challenge, dedication, determination, fitness, focus, fun, hatha yoga, health and wellbeing, hot room, learning, lifestyle, meditation, Namaste, patience, Personal development, personal growth, pranayama, torture chamber, work life balance
Sigh. ! Tonight’s class was a challenge. I didn’t go to last night’s class because of my hamstring. It had been pulling throughout the day just doing normal things so bending, stretching and flexing to all degrees didn’t feel like a good idea. It then felt better today but when I got to class, it really changed the way I engaged in this class.
For starters, I had panicky breath again and it took a little while to get that under control. It was a mind game tonight and my mind was winning. It started in Eagle when sitting down, where I felt fear to sit down too far in case I pulled the hamstring and did more damage. I got through it, breath jumping out of my chest.
I decided to use Standing Head to Knee to my advantage – utilising the focus and determination required in this posture to calm myself down. It worked pretty well for the first set and then I was pooped in the second set! 😉 oh dear….the mind was winning 😉
I then made the call to not do any posture tonight that required extension of the hamstring in the left leg. I realised that the injury will not get better while I still try and do ‘as much as I can’ with that leg. It was time to learn a different yoga tonight and that was the yoga of listening to my body and listening to the postures. The postures were telling me what could and could not be attempted as much as my body was.
Strangely, missing out on postures made class seem more challenging! I didn’t do Standing Bow left leg locked, full Standing Separate Leg, Triangle left side or Toe Stand left leg locked. In the floor series I didn’t do Wind Removing left side. People new to class might think how lucky I was to ‘rest’ while standing these postures out but it was really challenging!
For starters, I love to push myself in class 😉 Secondly, I realised how much the momentum through class is maintained by going posture-into-posture – it keeps you focused and your concentration is on your breathing – you don’t have time to realise much else. But standing there and not engaging in the posture, you really realise that your breathing has escalated, that your mind and body need stabilising and that you have to re-gain your momentum to enter the next posture you can.
It was fascinating!! It was as much an analytical class as it was a physical class. Bikram says for us yogis to ‘do the best you can with the body you have today’; and that was certainly true of today. I still really relished being there in the hot room – it’s such a wonderful place to be and is such a wonderful teacher in it’s own right. You never leave the hot room without learning something.
So I have decided now that I will drop back to the middle row and continue with this particular journey of healing and patience and learn from it while the learning is there to be had. We start our next 30 day challenge in May so I really want to be fit and strong again for that!
To healthy hamstrings! 🙂
How often do you feel inspired about yourself or inspired about your life? The answer may be “Not every day”, where the answer could be “Every day!” For various reasons we may lose the sense of inspiration about ourselves and about life that we had as kids; or dependent on our circumstances, we may not ever have felt that sense of inspiration. Thus it becomes all the more important to realise that inspiration for ourselves and for life is available to us.
The question is: Where do we find it? The answer is: Within ourselves!
Some of us may be looking to external environments wanting them to be inspiring for us. This may well happen and be completely wonderful when it does. However, everything changes – either within ourselves or within our environments, and when this happens our external source of inspiration may not be that any more, and we may lose faith that inspiration even exists.
And that is why it is important to realise that all the inspiration you need is inside your own heart and soul: for whoever you want to be and whatever you want to do. Find out who you are so that you know how to inspire yourself. Are you a loving person? Then inspire yourself by giving love. Are you a creative person? Then inspire yourself and try new mediums. Are you a giving person? Then inspire yourself by connecting with different parts of the community that you could like to try to assist. Inspire yourself with who you are!
Get to know aspects of yourself that you may not even have known were there! When you do, you will know yourself so much better, you will be your own best friend and you will know exactly what it is about you that inspires you! From there, you will connect with and engage in external sources of inspiration that you find and that find you; and from there you will be able to share your understanding and inspired life with others, showing them also how to go within to find exactly what they are looking for.
Last year I took the time to go within and realised how much I needed to be grounded, peaceful and active. And so I began my Bikram Yoga practice. Little did I know that I would be my own inspiration for the rest of my life! I began to achieve things in myself that I never knew were possible, and I was able to take that realisation I had inspired in myself and change so many other areas of my life. I inspired myself and now I know that the sky is the limit! And I also know it can be that way for all of us every day. Go within! Be inspired!
As always, a total blast in class. For some reason this evening though my breathing was a bit fast-paced, like it was racing a bit. I couldn’t really pin-point why, other than I had been working through some stuff recently and maybe it was latent anxiety that was ready to be breathed through and released. Had our awesome teacher Ben who has fantastic energy and really gets you going. Once I got through Pranayama breathing and into half moon and then through to Eagle, I was starting to settle down with my breathing which was good. Half moon felt tight this evening in first set, but in second set I was able to push down lower and prepare myself for a better back bend.
I have a small tight spot in my lower left back and was mindful of that going into the posture. I breathed through to relax the lower muscles in the back and then found myself a little shaky in the legs! I contracted my muscles tighter and had some more solid-ness with which to try to get my arms back just a tad bit further.
The challenge I am having in all of my postures at present is coming from my left hamstring. I was recently in Standing Bow and was concentrating to hard on getting my right leg kicked up higher, that I had lost concentration on locking the left knee, and pulled my hamstring out of the insertion point. Ouch!! It made a popping sound and provided me with a good does of nausea throughout the rest of that class 😉
Have been trying to manage it but it really does present a challenge in certain postures, and also to my mind which likes to keep progressing and doesn’t like to be thwarted! So I am having to pull back in some postures and I find that frustrating as I like to give 110% each and every time.
Thus in Eagle, I even find keeping the weight on the left heel and sitting down lower pulls on that insertion point; in Standing Bow, I just cannot kick the right leg up as high as that insertion point pulls in the left leg and in Triangle, I cannot go down into left side because as we bend down into the posture, the hamstring pulls straight out from that insertion point.
I am using my practice to concentrate greatly on all of the other postures to strengthen other muscles groups that will facilitate some ease to the hamstring. So my contraction of the thigh muscle in Standing Head to Knee and Standing Separate Leg Stretching is getting a lot stronger which is really great – especially in Standing Head to Knee!
I’ve been practising for nearly 12 months and Standing Head to Knee was a nemesis posture – no doubt about it. As Bikram says, I could not lock my knee! I wobbled and fell and shook my way in and out of that posture but I kept so determined to grow stronger in it. I have now reached the stage where I can keep the knee locked in both legs and have commence lowering my body to touch my head to my knee. I pretty much get there and then wobble and fall out 🙂 But the muscle memory is increasing each time as is the stamina for the posture and I will get there!
Floor series was good – felt so nice to hit the floor tonight! Some of it seemed to go fast and some of it slow. When we got to Camel I was thinking ‘really? already?!’ but when we got to Rabbit I was thinking ‘seriously, you mean we haven’t done this yet?’ 😉
And so another class drew to a close and I again learned something new about my body and my postures and my current limitations.
Till next time when the sweat is on!
What courage is required of us in our personal and professional lives? So often, the courage that is required in our personal lives intersects with the courage required in our professional lives, yet we don’t see or necessarily realise, how. Quite often, our realisation about our need for courage commences in our professional life – something occurs in a professional setting or an external environment that alerts us to the need for managing a challenge and/or a change.
Quite often, we contextualise courage in the sense of needing courage ‘in the face of others’ because ‘they’ have caused the circumstance in which we find ourselves. But as adults, how often do we take these circumstances and have the courage to face ourselves, and our thoughts/beliefs/behaviours/actions that may have co-contributed to this situation?
If indeed we do have the courage to do that, to face ourselves and our hidden foibles that we often like to disguise or keep from ourselves, then arguably in that moment, we are demonstrating the best courage of all: to face ourselves, to know ourselves and to take responsibility for ourselves. There may always be external situations that simply do just ‘occur’ that absolutely require courage ‘in the face of’ that situation. But once we can have the courage to truly engage in getting to know ourselves, the nature of the courage we need to face any external situation will change, because we ourselves have changed.
I used to pride myself on my courage in situations – I was a fighter, a rebel who would go head to head with people and government entities in order to prove what was truthful. But I had to then have the courage to face myself and realise that my way of approaching these matters – through adrenalin and anger – was co-contributing to the lack of positive results.
Over time, I came to realise why I did ‘fight’ like that, made my peace with it, and then learned to engage with circumstances with a more diplomatic and tempered approach. I had to have the courage to say to myself that although I didn’t think ‘their’ way was the right way, ‘my way’ wasn’t necessarily the right way either. And from there, some change did indeed and thankfully occurred!