Seeing little birdies

You know how cartoon characters see little chirping birdies flying in circles around their heads after they suffer a trauma? Yeah, today I had birdies.

How can that be, Karen, since you practice all alone, you ask. Well, yes, I practice alone, but that doesn’t mean I don’t use tools to experiment upon/torment/help myself.

This morning, during kapotasana, I used the lower set of Iyengar ropes to hold my legs and a stretch band that I anchored on the wall to stretch my arms/chest.

I had the bright idea that using a climbing crash pad, which is slippery, would be better than using a yoga mat. The slipperiness of the surface is useful because otherwise the friction of my head makes it hard to get my head close to my feet. Yes, that last sentence could only be written in a yoga blog.

I tried the set-up out once, and it was great. But not enough pull. Time to up the ante. I arranged the ropes to keep my legs more vertical and tightened up the stretch band. Then I bent back, and slowly brought my arms around to allow the stretch bands to engage.

Whoa! It was a serious adjustment. Much more dramatic than I had anticipated.

I can laugh about it now, but seriously, I scared myself pretty good.

Definitely bent more than I’ve ever bent on my own. I think VBG must have adjusted me to the same degree in the past, but that wasn’t bad, because the responsibility of it was ON HIM. This time, though, it was on me. And I think that scared me. In fact, I know it did.

Nothing hurts, and when I looked at my video, it looks entirely innocuous. Inside, though, I saw a burst of light and felt like my nervous system had just gone off like a flash bulb. I am still trying to sort out how much of my reaction is just me not trusting myself to be my own teacher…

I feel perfectly fine, muscle- and bone- (and fascia!)- wise, but my nervous system is definitely toasted. That lightheaded kind of feeling of too many squats at too high a weight, or a really scary climb.

When I get home later, I’ll look at the video again and try to tell myself everything is okay and that I should proceed.

This is definitely a place where a teacher makes things easier.


12 Responses

  1. I thought you were going to say you dropped back on your head. I’ve done that twice, the second time was bad enough that I considered driving myself to hospital.

  2. LOL! Oh, that makes me laugh, V — no, I managed to do something less dramatic than fall on my head.

    Why is it we do this stuff? I can’t remember. πŸ™‚

  3. I know. My friend (and then teacher) Mark had told me several times that I was extending my arms a second too late. I guess I had to bang my head against the floorboards to sink that one in πŸ˜€

  4. Be careful! The cybershala’s insurance policy only covers tiger balm!

    Glad you’re not hurt…

  5. Nervous systems are for losers anyhow!

    And look at the bright side: once I’ve destroyed my common humanity hard- and soft-ware, I can be a conservative pundit.

  6. hi Karen
    you’re amazing. it seems, though, you’re entering Iyengar territory. it’s as if two teachers where holding your body. i guess it would be superior for us to accomplish the results we want without needing the help of ropes. but it takes a lot of time for the body to open up and do these asanas to their full extent without assistance of teachers or props.

  7. Sounds like an opening to me πŸ™‚

  8. I KNEW you were about to describe Kapotasana. Damn. I know some people have the rubber back and the pose is not an issue, but for the other 99% of us, those birds buzzing around afterwards seems pretty much written in everyone’s yoga diary. I really think that pose, more than any other (that I’ve done at least) cranks the nervous system in a way that’s insanely intense. I’m glad you’re not hurt- it probably just means that you’re finally in full-on Kapo territory! The birds are here to stay!

  9. i was reading one of those blogs from Mysore this past summer, i think it was CK’s, where she had such an intense experience when S. told her to straighten her arms in Kapo, that her entire arms went numb afterwards. But she felt that’s she went to Mysore for that experience.

  10. I think the arms going numb is NOT a good thing, Arturo. It’s happened to me when I’ve been cranked into the pose to a degree that is probably too deep compared to what I was ready for. I have not had the numb arm thing in a while – since I have opened up my armpits and chest more. I think the numbness is pretty scary and I don’t care if Sharath did it or whomever – it’s in the injury territory.

    Karen – you’re doing GREAT! VERY creative use of props. I do think that you should spend some time with your arms straight. Most people have given me that advice – straighten the arms. Kapo B is a HUGE intense stretch of the thoracic spine, and I think you are going to have to open your thoracic spine a bit more because your armpits seem kind of tight. Something has to give, and it’s probably your thoracic spine…which seems pretty flexible actually!

    Can you show us a video of you doing Kapo B?

  11. Are there no teachers close enough to where you live??? I am SO fortunate. I realize this all the time. I get to practice with Chris again, but even so if he’s out of town or away or whatever, I get to go back to Greg.

    I have to admit I don’t quite understand what you were doing with the Kapo and I couldn’t watch the video, but I once blacked out for a few seconds when G was assisting me. He’d just started doing feet to heels on a regular basis, and there was one day where everything just went black for a bit. I wasn’t in pain or anything, just a nervous system overload. And ya I saw starts. Then all through the next pose I was fighting nausea… I didn’t say anything to G at the time though and the experience never repeated itself.

  12. Oh, kapo B! Like I don’t have enough problems with A. LOL!

    Yes, I’ll get a video. I’m curious now that you mention it!

    There are a few teachers here, but (gosh, I hate to admit this) I am probably over-controlling of my experience, particularly around things that make me feel fear. So suddenly I find myself wanting to figure these things out by myself.

    That said, if VBG hadn’t ever cranked me into kapo, I would have had NO idea how to begin. Now that I know, though, I can simulate and adjust and control the rate of progressive overload… πŸ™‚

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