Jumping the Hump

Even though it's been over a month since my relatively minor surgery and, indeed, all the turbulence that came with that experience, I am still dealing with the repercussions.  It has been a struggle to find my groove again, both on the mat and off;  always watching and waiting for the slightest sign of discomfort at the sites of the incisions and taking extra rest days to attend to some long-neglected areas of my life.  I have enjoyed the change of pace, but I try to maintain an ever-present memory of the 6-day practice week, keeping that feeling fresh in my mind so it's not such a shock to the system when I manage to get over this hump and hit my stride again.

Yesterday, I practiced Primary in spite of the moon day because I couldn't bear to miss another practice.  Today, I took it up a notch and did full Primary plus Intermediate to Laghu Vajrasana.  Primary was lovely, but the lack of Intermediate practice is starting to show.  My thighs quivered by the seventh breath into Shalabasana, and Laghu Vajrasana was noticeably more difficult than I remember.  I'm still omitting the finishing backbends, but rather than skip them altogether I've been substituting 3 rounds of Setu Bandhasana (the variation commonly known as "Bridge Pose," not the Ashtanga variation) in order to keep the thighs and glutes strong for my eventual return to the bigger backbends.  All in due time...

And yet, the Swenson Adventure 2011: Part Deux is right around the corner (Yes, I like to give tedious, official-sounding names to events in my day to day life.  What of it?), and I'd like to be in top form to take the most from that experience.  I had hoped to have at least the LBH and Tittibhasana sequences under my belt by the time this training rolls around, but the biopsy certainly put a damper on that.  As it stands now, I'll be lucky to get Kapotasana back in time for teacher training.  Not that it really matters, especially since this is Swenson we're talking about:  that guy is so sweet and laid back about the practice that he makes Ashtanga seem like a day at the playground.

In the meantime, I'll be working on my core and quad strength.  And doing pull-ups, lots of pull-ups.


  1. Hi, love your blog, never commented before. Good to see your getting back to practice gradually and respecting your body. I am curious about the pull ups, what do they strengthen that ashtanga doesn't?

  2. Hi Helen - Thanks for taking the time to comment. I love to hear the thoughts of my readers. As for the pull-ups, they strengthen the rhomboids, lats, and serratus anterior, among otherss, all of which help to keep the shoulders back and properly aligned for the seemingly infinite number of vinyasas in an Ashtanga practice.

    Generally speaking, most forms of hatha yoga don't do much for the biceps but ask a lot of the triceps. I think Ashtanga is something of an exception in that all the binding and active forward bending does strengthen the biceps, but still not in equal proportion to the triceps, so the pull-ups are a way for me to balance that out.

    Plus, they're just so darn efficient. If I only have a few minutes to get my body moving for the day, a few sets of pull-ups can do the trick in no time flat.