Ordinary Dreams

The yoga is giving me dreams.  Lots of them.  In fact, I can't remember the last time I slept a whole night without vivid, restless dreams, mostly about yoga.  How subtle, right?  I'm not exactly sure what this says about me, but I generally have very ordinary dreams.  I've never dreamed that I could fly or breathe under water.  I dream about sandwiches (yum!), surprise family visits (the horror!), and gaining one new follower on my blog (sad but true...).  My dreams are merely unimagined alternatives to reality.  My yoga dreams are no different:  I'm in a mysore room, on my mat, moving through my practice.  I'm not doing 3rd series, or floating effortlessly to and from Uttanasana, or even doing lotus without fear of blowing out my knee.  I'm in MY body, facing my challenges.  Doing my practice.  What's a girl gotta do to get some rest around here?

To answer my own rhetorical question:  observe moon days!  And that's what I did.  Today was my very first moon day.  And it was good... but I have to wonder, if I'm going to buy into this whole tradition, with rest days and moon days, and ladies holidays and the whole bit, when am I supposed to do my practice?  (Answer: in my dreams, apparently.)

As I mentioned early last week, my teacher J had suggested I stop at Eka Pada Sirsasana instead of practicing Intermediate through Yoganidrasana until I can get my leg to stay behind my head.  Well... since then, we've taken it down yet another notch.  For the past week, I've been stopping at Kapo.

Why, you ask?  A few reasons.  For one, I'd been having problems sustaining my energy through the practice so much so that I couldn't healthfully sustain a heating pace through the later postures of 2nd series (my sweating too much, too fast without dying issue).  It was a long, slow trudge through the leg-behind-head postures, particularly since I needed to stretch first, and even then could never quite get my leg to stay behind my head without using a hand to keep it there.  And this leads me to another reason we decided to shave it down for now:  my knee.  Or, more accurately, my (two) knees.  Not only do the leg-behind-head postures have the potential to re-injure my knees, but J seems convinced that I'll be able to do the lotus postures in time, and she would prefer that I focus on opening my hips and performing Primary in it's fullest expression before I move on.  Fair enough.

While I'm not too keen on the idea of giving up postures I've only just acquired, I have to say that full Primary plus 2nd to Kapo is a really lovely practice.  And it leads sooooo nicely into the finishing backbends.  After Kapo and it's series of preparations, my spine and shoulders are primed for Urdhva Dhanurasana.  I can feel every single vertebrae in my spine unfurl individually in the drop backs.  It's like nothing I've felt before (I never stopped at Kapo before, remember?  S took me from Laghu right on to Bakasana B). 

While I don't feel it during the bulk of my practice (the Suryas and Padahastasana seem to take care of it), I am still experiencing unprecedented levels of tension and resulting immobility in my shoulders and upper chest.  After a long day, I need to take a couple of deep breaths before I try to slip a shirt off over my head.  During a class I assisted in today, I could just barely demonstrate the proper arm position for Garudasana (Eagle Pose), and not without vehement objection by my posterior deltoids.  It must be the backbends, right?  I can't imagine what else it could be, but as my dreams clearly reveal, I'm not terribly imaginative.


  1. Makes sense not to rush through the LBH poses at the end of your regular practice when your already tired if you have a dodgy knee. I'm doing Primary to Kapo at the moment, yes, nice practice.

    My left knee is also dodgy, had some ops on it years ago.

    If you want to work on LBH perhaps a separate practice some evenings along the lines of Vinyasa Krama Asymmetric sequence, here's a link to the sheet,
    Trim it down perhaps and after Eka pada you could of course add yoga nidrasana. Think it works as a stand alone, especially if you jump in to it just after getting in after a walk or cycle home which is what i tend to do. You could do one side one day the other the next if your short of time, fifteen twenty minutes would do it. I especially like Janu Sirsasana A, Badha konasana, Akarna Dhanurasana A and B then into Eka pada.

    Sweet dreams.

  2. Hey Grimm - I've been thinking of working up a regular tennis ball massage + hip opening practice to help me work toward the LBH poses safely. Thanks for the Vinyasa Krama recommendation, just took a look at your practice sheet. That looks like a deliciously stretchy practice! Do you do everything from Marichyasana to Chakorasana on one side and then switch, or do you do each pose on both sides before moving on?

  3. Ramaswami leaves it up to you, if your short on time you might do both sides as you untill you run out of time. pr you might do one side up to the marichi's then the other side then go on and do the rest. the last bunch of poses he calls hybrid asymmetric as the legs are doing different things, on in half lotus say, the other bent back underneath you.

  4. Well I'm happy you dream about having new followers. I've been reading your blog and attending your classes and finally decided to click "follow this blog". Really love your blog, keeps me motivated, faithful to your classes and makes me feel better about my own yoga journey. I'm new to yoga and still trying out figure it out. I look forward to your posts even though some times (most of the time) I'm completely clueless about what you're referring to with all the Eka Pada Sirsasana,Marichyasana,Chakorasana and moon days references that go over my head, I like to imagine they're these beautifully hard poses that one I too will be doing!

  5. Hi Andrea - Thanks for following the blog. It's a dream come true. Haha! I'm so glad my experience has helped you come to terms with your own path. It was great to see you again in class last week. :)

  6. I think it's something that happens when you go deep into the ashtangayoga! I hear (and read) about it from those who really commit to the practice...the dreaming and restless sleep I mean!
    It's strange though....how much it affects you!

  7. Hello Megan,
    your dreams are very down-to-earth compared to mine :-) Here's a post I wrote some time ago about yoga dreams that I have had:


    I'm glad to know I'm not the only person who has dream-filled nights :-)

    For a while, I was also doing full primary and second up to Kapotasana or Supta Vajrasana. But this contributed to pelvic/SI joint imbalance, because such a practice contains a lot of lotus postures (right leg first), but not enough compensating leg-behind-head postures (left leg first). So I had to go up to the LBH postures in order to balance this out. Maehle mentions this imbalance in his book on the second series as well. I think you have a different body type from me, so you probably won't have this issue, but I just thought I'll bring it up, in case you ever encounter it (knock on wood...) But if this should ever happen to you (again, knock on wood), you might want to think about adding at least a couple of the LBH postures anyway, even if you have to hold your leg behind your head with your hand.

    Just thought you might find this information to be of use (hopefully, you will never have to use it).

  8. You think all that sweating was your body trying to detoxify itself from all the "blockages" you rolled out with the tennis ball? I did an intense ball work on the front of my neck a few days ago and I think my body is still purging! Just a thought.

    And maybe your really deep dark intergallactic dreams are still hidden from you - they are still too crazy for you to remember :)

  9. Helena - I've heard of other ashtangis experiencing insomnia and/or restless dreams when beginning Intermediate series. They say it's the nerve cleansing... I wonder.

    Nobel - Interesting. Thanks for sharing, both the dreams and your practice experience. Right now I'm either modifying all lotus postures, or doing lotus left leg first, since my right knee is the worse of the two. I have been feeling funny around the right sacral region though... must be watchful of SI issues.

    Domestic - I don't know if the volume of sweat has anything to do with the tennis ball massage since I've always been a heavy sweater, particularly during yoga. But last week, when I did a long tennis ball massage a couple hours before practice, I felt very strange afterwards and my sweat smelled AWFUL during my practice even though I showered right before. That, I am sure, was my body trying to eject whatever nastiness I released with the massage.