Wednesday, August 12, 2009

158/224 - Stamina

4:30 pm with Jean

Even getting to the studio, I wasn't sure whether I should take class or not. I talked to Jean before class, and she said that I should stop anytime I was in pain or my knee felt funny. That was encouraging advice, but it still left me with a decision, especially because my knee hurt no matter what I did, including nothing. But since it was going to hurt anyway, I decided to give the class a try. I don't think I made anything worse, but I also don't know if my knee got any better either.

Which poses work the inside of the right knee? All of them. The first big surprise was that I could do the first two parts of Awkward. But in the third, I could go down about six inches before I had to stop.

Eagle on the right leg was impossible, but I could still do the arms and bend both knees. Picking up the left leg wasn't going to happen. In Standing Head to Knee, I was limited to locking my knee and lifting up the other leg and grabbing it at the knee. Standing Bow was a bit better, I even started kicking up a little bit. And Balancing Stick was even better, almost as good as new.

I couldn't even think of doing the lunge in Triangle, and Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee was also pretty much impossible. Here, Jean suggested I do Warrior One instead, and I realized that I can at least do a partial lunge. So that's what I will do next time I have to do Triangle -- just start the lunge and do Warrior 2 until I can get the set-up right.

I thought the floor series would be better, and in some ways it was. Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, Half Tortoise, Camel and Rabbit were all fine. Wind Relieving was funny. Basically by the time my knee bent the full way, the pose was over. But the knee did bend all the way, and without any real pain.

Floor Bow was even funnier. I couldn't bend my knee and grab my right foot. Jean guided me through a variation where you just grab the left foot, and extend the right hand and foot. Afterwards, she said "That looked like pulling teeth, how did it feel?" And I had to laugh and admit that it felt like pulling teeth as well.

On the plus side, I really concentrated on the set-ups and form. I didn't do myself any harm. I felt better for having gone to class, even if I didn't get the boost to my knee that I've gotten from other minor injuries.

The day 219 meditation is about the stamina that comes with sustained practice. That's one of the great things that I've discovered in each of the challenges I've done. Practicing daily builds endurance and the ability to focus. This is one way that yoga is definitely not like other kinds of exercise. Running, cycling, lifting -- these all lead to overtraining and severe fatigue if done every day. Instead of leading to overtraining, asana practice seems to continually build energy.

The other point Gates makes I also find to be true. When you practice often, and hard, the stamina you build also gives the ability to find stillness and really enjoy the poses. Yesterday, after a week off, I noticed the sweat was burning my eyes at the start of the floor series. The stinging sweat was a real distraction, and if I only practiced a couple of times each week, it would probably be with me every class. Frequent practice seems to clean the sweat, and the sting disappears. On a more obvious level, when you don't have to worry about whether you can simply make it through Triangle, it becomes possible to explore what the pose is actually doing, and that exploration is one of the chief joys in class.


hannahjustbreathe said...

Sounds like your teacher really worked well with you to modify the poses to suit what you could do. That's awesome.

Here's hoping that knee starts feeling better soon!

Bosco said...

Indeed! Good luck with the knee. I don't know exactly where patience fits in to the Yoga Pantheon of Virtues, but that's what it will take. I am pushing four weeks in my silly hamstring injury, and there is still no end in sight.

Bon chance!

bikramyogachick said...

Duffy, glad you are taking good care of that knee. My heart goes out to you...last year during a 60 day challenge I worked through right knee pain (old cross country running injury). So I know how it feels. Kudos for working through it.
Stamina: I like your point about other sports leading to overtraining. Every single time I do a challenge I get "challenged" by coworkers and friends. They tell me it's not good for my body to do the same thing everyday. I just smile. I used to try to explain, but I think they need to come to Bikram to understand.

Duffy Pratt said...

Thanks to all for the encouragement on my knee.

There's still a hard day/ easy day principal that seems to go on during a challenge. It's just that you have to go with whatever the yoga brings to you -- some days will be hard and some will be easy and it goes by its own rhythm instead of a work-out plan. But yes, people don't seem to understand at all. We've all been told for years that exercise every day is bad for you. Maybe that's another way of showing that yoga isn't really "exercise" the way we tend to think about it.