Road back

This morning’s practice was three surya As (stepping back vs. jumping back) and standing poses and then some backbending over the Swiss ball. Everything felt fine, bendy-stretchy-wise, which was a nice surprise. I guess I imagined I’d feel like a thick old rubberband, one that’s been in the back of a drawer for seven or eight years, and when you stretch it, it kind of cracks around the edges and threatens to snap.

But it wasn’t like that at all. The sun was shining, the yoga room was cheery, last week The Cop hung a thistle seed feeder outside the window, so there were finches clustering and singing. I know, huh? Totally perfect environment for practice.

I had a few revved up moments right at the beginning, where my mind wanted to push into a frenetic practice and catch up to where I left off just shy of three weeks ago. Those impulses were pretty easy to put down, though.

What felt best? Something really simple: padangusthasana. Who’d have thought, right? It wasn’t about the hamstring stretch (though that was nice), it was all about being upside down. It hadn’t really occurred to me, but the most notable thing about the past three weeks is that I have kept myself upright pretty much continuously. After the surgery, it was all about keeping the head raised. Sleeping on multiple pillows, always being propped up.

Yoga teaches us so many different perspectives — and in this case I’m not even factoring in the mental/emotional perspectives, but just sticking to the kinesthetic perspectives. Think about it: if you go around in regular adult life, there’s a good chance you lie in bed, sit on chairs, sit at a desk, walk around a bit and then lie down again to go to sleep. All head above the body, spine straight up-and-down (well, unless you throw in some slouching) perspectives. Your eyes are always above your heart and hands, your legs are always below your head, and pretty much just hanging around down there.

Absolutely the best thing about climbing is being in strange bodily relationship to the ground, the rock, and, I guess, the moment. I clearly remember the day I lost my “normal” relationship to physical reality. Years and years of “everyday life” training, and all of a sudden, on a climbing route called “Neptune,” it all disappeared. The route had these weird overhangs and underclings, and at the very end, a roof that you have to maneuver around and over. It was the strangest sensation: I had always been very clear about the relationship of my body to the ground (even if it was far below me) but on this particular day, it was as if the undulations of the rock face created a new center of gravity in the earth, and I found myself orienting myself to the heart of the rock face, rather than to the ground. I didn’t feel any gravitational or emotional resistance when I was upside down or sideways on the wall. Very cool.

Yoga is a great way to reproduce that effect. If I get really deep into a pose, I can give up my normal bodily orientation and just be inside the pose. Prasarita C is a really good example of a pose I can go way into and then get kind of “lost.” It’s like climbing: you get so involved in climbing that suddenly you find yourself somewhere, and you can’t quite fathom how it happened. And it can be scary if you freak out and/or immediately try to figure out your exit plan. That’s when the discipline of turning off the mind comes in.

Ah well. Enough joyous musing on yoga practice, eh? Suffice it to say, I was thrilled to be back upside down.


3 Responses

  1. Is there abnormal pulsation in the surgery area? I would imagine that that would be kinda creepy. Welcome back.

  2. Abnormal pulsation? LOL! That sounds like something from a sci-fi movie! No, nothing like that happening, thank goodness. I think in the grand scheme of things, this sort of surgery is a pretty easy recovery. It’s all on the surface, for the most part. Certainly nothing like surgery in the chest or abdomen.

  3. Hi Karen
    How nice that you can practice again. Last week the girl practicing next to me was doing Prasarita Paddottanasana C with such flexibility, that both her hands were just resting on the floor for a few minutes, before being folded together in prayer. I’m not that flexible.
    You’re my inspiration for nicknames for fellow practitioners. But did I go a bit too far today? Could you give me your opinion on my post? Obviously if I’m asking your opinion I’m feeling guilty of paying attention to how people enter the room, when I should be concentrating on my breadth. But I had been out of the room for a few days.
    I shouldn’t be obsessing about other people, and that should be the bottom line. I hope they put up with my sillyness. Except for my teacher, I don’t think they know I’m blogging. Oh, my blog is at and I’m kind of new to blogging anyway.


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