15 Nov 2013

Conflicting Advice and Tradition

The mountains are all gleaming white, snowboarding season is fast approaching.

My physiotherapist, and the general canon of yoga  is telling me to take it easy, go slow.  Step by step.  Which I have been doing as much as possible.

However, my husband, an ex-pro-snowboarder, and the Doctor, a  sports man,  are telling me to move more, do the sports I love.  Make muscle having fun. Get on your board and go!!

Up until now I have generally followed the word of the therapist as law.  More about this soon.  But I feel that I am filled with fear of moving and my energy is being depleted.

Also, yes the modern approach to yoga is one of gently gently, but I feel it hasn't always been this way.  When I first started practicing Ashtanga I was very gentle with myself, but after visiting senior teachers I was often shocked at how hard they would push me, and how I was actually fine. One thing we must learn is to know our limits and ride the edge.  It was the intensity of the practice that hooked me, not a gently gently approach.  Not that everyone needs pushing, but my weak point was to hold back. This holds true in all areas.

Snowboarding is an extreme sport and people around us have had all kinds of injuries, and to hear how they all overcame these and got back on the mountains is wonderful.

One of my most inspiring friends is Anna, she broke her back snowboarding.  I was with her. They did an emergency operation to fuse two vertebrae together.  This was in a hospital here in Yamagata,  the doctor left it to me to break the news that she would never walk again.  I went in and told her straight, her reply still stays with me, she said 'Ganbarimas!' which roughly means, I won't give up, I'll do my best, keep on trying. She has done just that, and more.  Total inspiration.

Keep the body and the spirit strong.

My husband also told me about his friend (in his 20's) who smashed his patella to pieces, had surgery and was limping for 6 months after.  How, he went snowboarding while still in a cast, went down The Wall, a particularly steep slope, infamous, he did a few turns and then tumbled quite literally head over heels a few times. On the wall once you tumble there is no stopping till you hit the bottom. Anyways, he finished up feeling no worse for wear, infact better than before!

Could be something in it.  I won't go down the wall, but I do need to let go of my fear and begin to physically challenge myself again.

It is in this spirit that I shall head to three days of yoga class. No teaching, just practicing with all the guys. Can't wait.

Currently,  practice consists of a  very stiff, punctuated primary, interspersed with physio to focus on weak points.  I think it fits in beautifully. Tarik did say, regarding asana practice, that when injured the rules go out the window (n.b. meaning, one needs to adapt the asana a little, not blindly follow the rules regardless of pain nor, conversely,  to throw the baby out with the bath water). I usually practice alone, so am wondering how I should practice in the Mysore room, this weekend.  I love the Ashtanga tradition, and believe that there must be space for individual differences.  Not tailoring the practicing because it's what you feel like, but objectively looking at what is needed to get the body back to strength, alignment, and health.

Haven't been this excited about a workshop in a while!


  1. Like that ' rules go out the window when you have an injury'. Saw this the other day, jumping through...kind of, with a cast.

  2. Ha, thanks for the link! Yeah, but as the link said too, keeping the core elements of breath, vinyasa and focus. But I kinda chickened out of doing all my physio in the Mysore room, what's with that?