Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 34 -- Totally Wiped

9:30 am with Lenette

I set up in the hottest part in the front, an area with very little air movement, and it was probably a mistake.  Things were bad already in Awkward Pose.  But after Eagle, I moved the mat near the windows, where there's some more air flow.  That should have taken care of things, and it did for a little while.  But not for long.

I didn't miss too many poses -- just one set of triangle, and I bailed on the third part of Locust second set.  But things got very strange.  In every Savasana, I started to feel a little dizzy and out of breath.  When I got up for Fixed Firm, which is a resting posture, I got hit with a wave of dizziness/fatigue, and went back down for about half of the first set.  Then I decided it was ridiculous, and basically toughed my way through to the end.  And from there, I was fine so long as I was in a pose and focused, but as soon as the pose was over, I would start to lose it again and get overwhelmed, maybe by the heat but I'm not sure.  It was more like a low grade panic attack.  I'd lose my breath, feel really hot, and just want to escape.  The cool thing is that the poses themselves were the best escape I had.

Lenette obviously noticed I was not doing well.  In the final spinal twist, she came by and helped me out by bracing a little against my back with her knees and twisting my shoulders a bit further with her hands.  I went further than I've gone before, and it felt wonderful.  Not only that, but it appears to have cured the chest soreness I had yesterday.

One of the other students doing the challenge says that a few days ago she went through almost exactly the same thing that I felt today.  She thinks that it's just working through some emotional stress, and its the sort of thing to expect when you're working hard in one of the challenges.  I hope she's right, but tomorrow should tell.

Now for more of the floor series:

20.  Fixed Firm  My hips started about 4 inches off the floor with my legs separated, and it hurt, especially in the tendon in the front of my left foot.  I progressed pretty fast in this one, and got to the full expression several times, with my knees spread apart about 8-10 inches.  Then I aggravated my left knee last week, and now I'm back to just going back onto my elbows, not all the way to the floor.  That should change as my knee improves, and its feeling better every day.

21.  Half Tortoise:  I don't understand the name for this one, but so be it.  When I started, this felt like a resting pose.  The big challenge/impossibility was having my head touch the floor before my hands.  Then, in the pose, my hips were up quite a bit and I never locked my elbows, so I didn't really feel the stretch.  Now I understand why they say its an energizing but not a resting pose.  I can get my head on the floor easily before my hands, and then I can lock the elbows and keep my hands together, which puts a very nice stretch through my shoulders and shoulder blades.  It feels like my hips are even getting lower some.  This is a favorite pose, even more so now that I've figured out how actually to stretch in it.

22. Camel:  To begin with, I put my hands on my back and sort of dropped my head back and leaned back a little bit.  Reaching down for my hands brought up absolutely nothing.  Basically, I felt like I was kneeling with a very slight backbend.  Today, I think my Camel is almost respectable (even though I think the pose got its name because camels are filthy, nasty beasts that bite, but can be tamed).  I have no problem grabbing my feet and arching back.  I don't even fall back into the feet anymore, they are just there.  Pushing my hips forward is still a struggle, and I don't really know how far forward they are.  But I'm doing pretty well in terms of seeing the back wall, and even the floor.  And, despite the warnings and sympathy from the teachers, I don't ever feel dizzy or sick or panicked in this pose.  If I didn't have to push on the hips so hard, I could hang out in this pose forever.

23.  Rabbit:  Rabbit used to do for me what everyone else claimed they felt in Camel.  Dizzy, out of breath, and panicked.  I could not get my head near my knees no matter what.  I couldn't really feel the grip on my heels.  Straightening my arms was out of the question.  And my big belly got in the way.  The posture was a total mess, and I basically only felt a stretch in my neck.  Now its one of my better poses.  It's easy to get, and keep, solid contact between my head and knees.  I can breath easily, lock my elbows, pull on the feet, and have gotten to feel a stretch all the way down to the tailbone.  I'm not sure how close I am to getting my thighs perpendicular to the floor, but it feels like I can't be too far away.  This one has gone from being one of my least favorite poses, to one of the poses I most like.

24. Seated Stretch Head to Knee:  This is an easy pose to fake, and I probably did fake it some to begin with.  I can't remember having any problem getting my head to my knee.  But my knees weren't anywhere close to locked to begin with.  Now, I can lock the right leg and get my head even above the knee.  The left leg is not so good, and pushing the knee locking on this side makes my knee hurt more, so I've been taking that part easy. 

25.  Forward Seated Stretch:  To start with I could barely grab my toes, my knees didn't quite lock, I couldn't hinge forward from my hips, and my back was pretty rounded.  Grabbing the toes is easy now, but my legs still don't lock as much as the instructions call for.  It really hurts to lock them so that the heels are off the floor.  I do hinge forward from the hips some, but my back still rounds too much.  I need to work harder on locking the legs here, and then on straightening my back so the stretch is truly from the hips.

26. Spinal Twist:  My setup was awful.  Keeping both hips on the ground, my bent leg was about a foot in front of the knee on the ground.  Then I would reach up, but I couldn't get my arm over the knee, so I would try to grab the mat for leverage.  My other hand would keep me propped up at something like a 60 degree angle, but definitely not with a straight back.  The stretch I felt was more in my hip flexor than in my back.  The set-up has made lots of progress, my foot is almost at my knee now, and doesn't bend that far out to the side.  I can get my arm over my knee and grab the knee on the floor, which was a major step.  I can lift the back arm off the ground and grab my shorts, but can't reach the thigh yet.  And my back is straighter up and down than it was.  The twist started coming along when I got to the point where my belly got out of the way.   I like this pose now.

27. Final Breathing:  It took a while to figure this one out.  The comical thing at the start was how much my belly bounced around.  It's more controlled now, and I think I've developed better control of my abdomen from this exercise.  But there's still some jiggly belly going on, especially if I try this sitting Indian style.  Finally, when I started, doing the fast set seemed ridiculous and impossible.  Now it seems normal, and the slow set seems slow.  So that's a definite improvement.

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