Tuesday 27th November
There’s pain…and there’s pain…it manifests in so many different guises, and even if I just limited my random thoughts of pain to the physical body (as opposed to emotional, mental pain), I'd still be able to describe many different sensations.
But what I'm feeling in my lumbar and right hip joint is mystifying.
It’s definitely pain, but not a shooting pain, not a sharp pain, not even an achy pain.
It’s a sort of blocked pain that I’d associate with deep tissue damage and severed energy channels. There’s nerve aggravation, distortion, and an exaggerated somatic perception of imbalance because one part of my body is producing cellular heat and mobilising healing fluids for tissue repair and the corresponding opposite side of my body is completely dull in comparison.
On the Mat
Surya Namaskars went well, and the only problem that arose in the standing poses was a complete inability to hold up my right leg unsupported in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. Note: it’s not just abdominal and leg muscular strength that are needed here. My right hip joint is completely impotent, limp, as if the energy channel has been cut inside it and the prana can’t surge through. Left leg – no problem – I held it up at 90 degrees for a good 5 breaths.
Come the seated poses I was determined not to retreat from the hip pain, but face this injury, investigate it through the poses and learn more about it.
(By this time it was obvious that Renate was having a dud of a practice…she only did a few standing poses then retreated to the floor for another 10 minutes or so before giving up, sitting up, blanketing up and meditating before hitting the floor gain for Savasana and a snooze – unusual for her – she usually puts me to shame with her endurance).
I did looong seated poses up to Janu Sirsasana C and really brought in all my 12 years of yoga experience, minutely adjusting, microscopically observing, deep-sea internal exploring and processing it all through some ancient part of my brain. This really is fascinating yoga…pity we usually only do this kind of yoga when we’re injured.
The focus is quite different, much sharper, not diffused amongst breath, bandhas, drishti, alignment, energy etc. It’s not that kind of global focus where the awareness permeates the whole body/mind/beingness (which is a beautiful experience in itself and a sign of an advanced yoga practice). No, this is staring eye-to-eye at specifics without blinking kind of yoga. The gaze undistracted, unwavering. eg. I look at how my leg muscles are working, I slightly rotate the femur and note what that does to my pelvis – is it square? Can I even trust my perception when one side of my sacrum feels warm and swollen and the other side feels dull? I lengthen through my neck, making a little more space between the cervical vertebrae and a tiny almost imperceptible pop tells me the energy channel between throat and third eye has cleared, surrounding nadis have unblocked, the energy flows and I realise that these small openings are why we feel so good after a yoga practice and can’t quite articulate why.
Since I cut the practice short by stopping at Janu C, I had half an hour to spare before I could legitimately start the finishing poses (what kind of weird time management logic is this?).
I tested my lumbar/hip response with a long Baddha Konasana, it was a bittersweet entry but got easier as my body gave way its defences and I softened and lengthened forward into the pose. Supta Padangusthasana came next… I love the little extra adjustment in SP-B (when the leg extended to the side) where you slide the heel of the grounding leg away from the sitting bone – if you also keep the femur of this leg consciously pressed towards the floor while stretching that heel away, you get a lovely stretch through the front hip.
That was it..that was practice.