Monday, July 25, 2005

Some days really are "yoga"...and it's not the days that it all just flows....

I think that the "yoga" really is practiced on the days we resist it most. Yesterday a student from my Intro to Yoga class at New York Yoga asked me, "How do we establish a committed practice and then stick with it?" That led to a discussion of how we inevitably feel really great after a yoga class, and yet somehow there is a decent chance that we will have trouble getting ourselves to the mat the next day. At least this has been true for me. The only answer would seem to be: practice anyway. I guess Nike was really onto something when they coined the phrase, "just do it." Just do it really says it all.

And today, I had to do just that. I woke up after a horrible night's sleep with last night's dinner still seemingly in my tummy. I couldn't imagine practicing yoga. But I did. I started debating, but I quickly shut myself down. I got myself to Guy's and I did it. It was actually a fairly focused and disciplined practice. Prasarita Pado C is getting less frightening, and I touched the floor again, with Guy's help. I got into C pretty much by myself, other than a bit of help with getting the fingers to hook around each other. D though was another story. I spent a lot of time preparing myself for it - stretching out in half lotus, twisting around, hooking my back hand onto my lotus thigh. But my adjustment never came. No, that's not true. Guy did come over and help me - but instead of pulling my hands together, he focused on my back shoulder opening. I know that is where the work really is for me. But there was no bind today. Afterwards, I went on and continued up through Supta Kurmasana - as much as I could without benefit of being turned upright, since it was already past 10:15 by the time I arrived in the pose.

To be honest, I felt adrift. I wasn't sure if I had done something wrong by continuing my practice after not binding in D. And although I felt totally relieved to get a break from binding in D today, I also felt a bit abandoned - isn't it weird how Ashtanga practice can bring up such child-parent feelings?

I did have a WONDERFUL finishing series - did everything in carefully counted breaths, held Uth Pluthi for 15 breaths (KJS has got me thinking about trying to keep increasing the number of breaths...I never had thought of that before) and a peaceful Savasana.

But after class, I asked Guy - am I not supposed to continue if I don't get the bind in D? He told me that traditionally, unless you can bind without assistance, you don't really get the next pose, but that Mark had given me the subsequent poses, and I was "pretty good" at them (yay!), and he could see that they were helping me to open up my shoulders. I guess I didn't really ask the real question that was on my mind: why did we not bind today in D?

Funny thing about that is that if I could have made a wishlist for my practice today, it would have included adjustments in Prasarita Pado C and Mari C, but NOT Mari D - yesterday, I just felt so on the verge of panicking there, that I was feeling a sense of dread about having to do it all again today. So, it all worked out, and I wonder if Guy intuited that D was just too much for me day after day. Or is he just sick and tired of pulling me into D? LOL....but feeling the sting of a grain of truth in there....I know I sure am sick and tired of NEEDING to be pulled into D....and that, my friend, is what's known as "projection".

I wish it didn't feel so much like psychotherapy! Been there done that, got the t-shirt.

Should I just be practicing and not thinking so much? Should I resign myself to maybe binding in D in about a year or two or maybe never? It's not that I want to progress to Intermediate or anything like that. I couldn't care less about that at this point. I just don't want to dread D because of all the HELPLESS feelings it brings out in me. You know? That's what it is. I feel helpless. Like a child. I want to be a BIG GIRL in Mari D! I don't want to keep having to ask "Daddy" for help!

Sigh. Anyone?



julie said...

I think it is hard to remove our thoughts from practice though surely that is part of the practice to. Some days are better than others. While binding in Mari D is no big deal for me... I feel similarly in Bhekasana (or I did pre-surgery, we'll see what Mari D holds for me when I can get back to a mat). I dread bhekasana and always felt like I needed help... I'd even wait for help. Right before I left for surgery I discovered that it just didn't matter... but I think it was the notion that I wouldn't be doing it for a LONG time so why feel helpless and out of control about it. Perhaps if you let go of Mari D altogether you'll find the bridge to the next level with it?

yoga chickie said...

Hi Julie! Hope you are feeling well!!! I totally hear fact, I am having surgery in a mere 10 days, myself. Scar revision, saline implant port removal and tummy tuck. I feel a sense of relief sometimes at practice now, just knowing that I will be taking a decently long break soon and then starting almost anew. I do hope it is not hard to get back to where I was. Hopefully, my tummy tuck (and diastasis repair) will make some of the binds easier as well.

As for Bhekasana - I adore it. I practice it sometimes at home just because I like the way it feels. Isn't that funny? But Mari D - well, you know....not my most shining moment there in THAT one...

Let me know how your recovery is going.....Lauren

Julie said...

Hi Lauren, my recovery is going okay. It's harder than I thought it would be... having done this preventatively, well, you go from perfectly healthy, top of your game, to low. I'm sick of being "recovering" frankly and I miss my mat and hugs from my kids. I'm okay. The implants are softening up and since I have no breast tissue and they aren't expanders, I can completely feel them which is freaking me out a bit ;) The look perfect in a bra though! Time is what I need...

I will be starting over in practice that much I know for sure. I will definitely miss the openings of second series for awhile.

yoga chickie said...

I must have the worst implants ever. Maybe it's because they are saline. They just are NOT good. They look good in a bra, but they are just these annoying little domes that get in my way. Still, I would rather have them than not have them. So, starting over...what does that mean exactly? Will you do as much as you can without hurting yourself? I am concerned about what my lay-off is going to do to the continuity of my practice and how much I am going to lose of what I have gained....but I really do have to have these ports removed, and I really do WANT the tummy tuck...Lauren

julie said...

Starting over means I will be starting from scratch, going only as far as I can in first series and stopping until I can go further. I will not push myself past where it is safe. I don't even know when I'll be able to do a sun salutation so I will probably do glorified stretching for awhile.

As for the saline, my doctor put both on the table and told me to choose..the saline was so hard and round and unmoveable... the silicone gels were so different.. the choice seemed clear especially since I was having Alloderm and not muscle expansion. That said there is JUST a thin layer of skin and the implant now..that's it. My breasts are not plastic surgery perfect at this point and I doubt they will be.... but they are fine... and they are cancer free.

yoga chickie said...

Julie - I have to say, I don't really know what Alloderm is. I should look it up on the net, but if you can tell me, that would be great. But mainly I wanted to tell you that your breasts could turn out to be really beautiful AND cancer took mine about 9 months to settle down and be what they are now (which is better than what they were two weeks after surgery). You did such an incredibly brave thing....I am in awe! Lauren

julie said...

Alloderm is a procedure pioneered by Dr. Andrew Salzberg at -- it is basically an alternative to flap surgeries and requires no muscle modification. Essentially, I had a nipple and skin sparing mastectomy and then they used Alloderm (cadaver tissue) to create the pocket normally created by muscle and then put the implant in. You can read about it at I really didn't want to start messing with muscle (for the lat flap or expanders) and didn't want to go through the pain and long recovery of having an SGAP reconstruction. I flew to NY for the procedure as Dr. Salzberg is the man to go to and really there is only one other team of doctors doing this procedure.

Everyone keeps telling me that my breasts will look nothing like this in a month... it's just hard as I'm sure you know.

yoga chickie said...

Wow. That is absolutely incredible. I think you mentioned cadaver tissue before, but it didn't sink in. So, am I correct in viewing it almost as a tissue transplant (not the breast itself but the tissue between the implant and your skin)? There was NOTHING like that when I had my surgery. Saline implants were pretty much my only choice - tummy tuck reconstruction wasn't a possibility because my skin was tight and there was very little fat to spare (ironic, since I am getting a tummy tuck next week...menopause did a number on my abdominal skin tone). And Lat flap seemed really awful, and I would still end up with implants. The only "novelty" I was offered was not having to have expanders. My implants have ports in them, which I am having removed next Tuesday...Lauren

Julie said...

yes... it really is doing the job of what your expanders did (expanding the pects) or what the lat flap would have done...except that instead of messing with my muscle, I've got a cadaver tissue "pocket" in there. It really is an amazing procedure that is just now getting attention -- it is very very new and there are only two doctors who currently perform it in the US. Dr. Salzberg being the pioneer. He's there in NY. I hope more and more women find out about it. I have had no "pain" per se.. a lot of discomfort but not pain. Also it is a one-step procedure, there are no additional surgeries, exchanges, or other procedures necessary... I'm all done except for healing. It is not just for prev-vivors either.

yoga chickie said...

I like that - pre-vivors! Your discomfort will, of course, lessen with time. Do you ever find out who was your donor in terms of the cadaver tissue? How does your body not reject someone else's tissue?

julie said...

all the cellular structure is removed... and I don't believe it is "one single person"... you'd have to read the first page at --- it's pretty cool actually and the same stuff they use for burn victims.

yoga chickie said...

That is incredible. It really is. And btw, I really liked your take on the doctor/teacher analogy. That makes a lot of sense. When I chose to have a prophylactic mastectomy of my healthy breast, I was told by some statistic quoting doctors, "you know, you will still have breast tissue, so you could still get breast cancer in that breast." I said thanks for the info, but I think I will go a different way - and I went with my surgeon who felt that prophylactic mastectomy was a WIN/WIN....Lauren

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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