The physical resistance, however, is fully intact. Intermediate is knocking me around like a drunken hubby home from the docks. Old injuries are flaring up. Both ilio-psoas regions -- first left, then right -- have experienced what feels less like muscle soreness and more like a bruise or tear right over the hip bone. A similar shortness is present in my left side/chest, the same areas affected by the biopsy oh-so-many months ago. Apparently, I need to make a special effort now to keep these spots open or the scar tissue hardens right up.
My low back is also feeling strange. About a year and a half ago, I found a pair of bulging discs in my lumbar spine. The Ashtanga has done amazing things to heal this vulnerability -- the swelling is gone and the area is strong -- but the extensors around the discs have seized up. Practice feels good, but I've been taking those first couple of Surya Namaskara really slowly to let the hard spots soften. Forward bending and the leg-behind-head postures must be performed with special care.
I have lost a couple of pounds in the switch to morning practice, but am still not binding much in Intermediate without an aid. Of course, the mobility of my shoulders is still limited, but I am beginning to think that part of the problem may be this tension in the low back, particularly when it comes to binding Tittibhasana. Naturally, I'm not pushing it. Just going to the edge and waiting for the area to open up.
With all of these old injuries and seats of tension seizing up in spite of regular, responsible practice, it occurred to me that I haven't taken an oil bath in a couple of months. Could the castor oil ritual really make so much difference in keeping these areas soft? I wonder. Time to buy another bottle and find out.
On a side note, who remembers squat thrusts? Here's Anthony to refresh your memory:
Squat thrust = Surya Namaskara? Let's just be thankful for the yoga.