Practice, and all is coming

As Ashtangis, we are always undergoing some sort of “sensations,” “soreness,” or, to put it on the extreme, “pains.” Any devoted yogi would know that yoga is an ongoing project that most likely cannot be completed in this life or the next. It is a slow-blossoming lotus, but you bet we will get there.

Over the past 6 years of my practice, I had struggled with “pains” and “injuries” and inhibited me from performing the full expression of certain asanas. The first “injury” being my hamstring attachments (near the sitting bones). It was a heal and re-injure, heal and re-injure, on and off, on and off process that dragged for 2.5 years. During that period, I was so frustrated, slightly depressed at times, afraid that I might never be able to do forward bends without flinching or having to bend my knees. I kept searching for answers, but none were satisfactory, until last June when I met Paul at Yoga Thailand for my TT. He was my healer–he taught me to engage my quads, more than I thought I needed to, when I do any type of straight-legged forward bends. It was all a matter of agonist/antagonist muscles: the more your quads work, the more relaxed my hamstrings can be. Within half a year, my hamstrings had healed completely. Sure, I still have some rare days when I feel tender around my sit bones area, but I would just remind myself to bring my awareness to my quad/hamstring actions. After 2.5 years of struggle, the answer came to me.

The second incident was my lower back. Having a slightly more flexible spine, I could easily drop back into urdhva dhanurasana from standing. But because of my flexibility, I forgot to fully engage my quads, psoas, and abs to protect my lower back from compressing. I thought it was “normal” to have lower back pains from doing backbends (a fool I was!) until my current teacher taught me how to safely do drop backs.

Urdhva Dhanurasana-wheel

Again, this was a one-year struggle for me, but again, the answer came my way when I least expected it. Now I can go deeper in my backbends than ever, and even kapotasana feel like less of a struggle.

Kapotasana-the king pigeon

The obstacles (asana-wise) seem to be never-ending, with one resolved and the next one just brimming over the horizon. My current struggle is a middle back pain, and just having sore/tight erector muscles. I strained a spot around my middle back while I was getting adjusted in Supta kurmasana, and now that I am entering the legs behind the head phases of the Intermediate series, my back gets no break.

Dwi pada sirsasana from the Intermediate series

I’ve been listening to my body, so I’ve been skipping out dwi pada and yoga nidra entirely for the past couple of weeks. It’s a relatively new struggle for me, but I don’t feel too bad about it, because I know the answer will come to me eventually. For now, I just need to surrender to it. Surrender to whatever greater Cosmic Force is out there, surrender to the workings of the Universe, and trust that in due time my answer will come. For now, this is my Isvara pranidhana. I’m just going to go with Pattabhi Jois’ “Practice, and all is coming” mantra. Because, hey, the Universe has solved my first two problems, and I trust that it will solve my third and all else that might come. If I trust and surrender, I will get there.

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