Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Engaging in Meaningless Battles - Unyogic Igomania!

War is nothing but a battle of selfish and mindless egos that loose sight of compassion love and care for others. At the end even the winner loses - the destruction is bi-directional as war spares no one! Yoga teaches us to deflate our egos by going inwards to the I and beyond.

But occasionally going to the "I" sounds selfish to me. Should we not be going inwards to "us" which I term that as SMS - Shared Memory Space. I started using this term back in 1993. I picked it up from my software programming vocabulary and I first wrote about the idea of SMS in my personal journal. I lost the journal in a computer crash, with no backups. I have yet to learn my lesson of making regular backups - I still dont! Shame on me as I am a certified computer geek...

Shared Memory Space was my way of describing the notion of collective consciousness. In my world the notion of ego, self and collective consciousness are all interlinked. It is easy to break this link and simply let the "I" become the major ahamkara - ala the freaking mayhem causing devil in our lives which I call "Igo" rather than ego. It leads to utter blindness, failure and misery in our lives. We all suffer from Igo-mania. Why do some engage in such meaningful battles and conflict ? I am still uncertain, but Igo has a major play in it. But does Igo have physical manifestations?
Despite some expert opinions I don't believe knee and back aches are physical manifestations of inflated Igos. They are purely physical and generally posture related or for instance when you blow up your knee through a bad slip on a ski slope which I VERY much avoid.
You wonder why I write much about Igo and war. Well last I checked it's a daily occurrence in my life. I deal with battles daily and its a challenge to keep my Igo in check.

War has been a cornerstone of the history of the world right from the great epic of Mahabharata described in the bhagvatgita. We want peace. But peace is impossible unless we are peaceful inside with our Igos and negative reciprocity in check and deflated, while love and compassion is inflated. Unless you keep your Igo in check, you cannot bring the love and compassion into yourself and start seeing "Clearly". You will remain clouded till the war destructs you and who you engage the war with. Its a vicious cycle of negative reciprocity. You see that daily in the war in the mid east. Its simply never-ending.
Yoga helps you connect with the collective conscious - your SMS. The more you are connected to the SMS, the more likely you are to be thoughtful, calm and able to withstand dysfunction in your life. You get the power to understand not only yourself, but the universe around you. That understanding can be helpful in you respond to battles and attacks. Rather than reciprocate, sometimes pulling your sail down and not showing up for the battle may be the best diffuser. But that requires a major check of your Igo value. It needs to be at its lowest point.
So, when I am attacked or have a strong desire to let my love and compassion be blocked by my Igo and negative reciprocity, I rely on some of the following postures that help me it keeping it in check and restrain me from engaging meaningless battles:
1. Half uttanasa
2. Paschim uttanasana
3. Adho mukha paschim uttanasana. This is great to do at 35000 feet on a cramped seat of a zooming jet.
4. Supported backbend - Viparita Dandasana This will open up the well of tears in your eyes and gush those emotions out. You need that once in a while.
5. Adhomukha Svanasana - This has lately become my favorite pose. Be a relaxed dog and stretch your tailbone up to make a perfect triangle out of your body! Here is a near perfect rendition from my teacher Nuvana...

The Yogi

Watch it from the expert herself....

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hang upside down and let your aches and pain dissipate...

On Saturday I attended Nuvana's back care class at Sunset Yoga after a Friday evening back care regiment in private session with her. We determined that forward bends were aggravating it, so there were a number of supported back bends performed, along with twists. She avoided the traction with belts. My back pain was isolated to the lower left and heavy lifting was responsible in aggravating an old injury many years ago playing racquetball. Nuvana has no background in human physiology or anatomy, but she has a knack for isolating the area and using her skills to twist, stretch and turn you to relax the area. It is interesting to observe and feel your back pain slowly disappearing albeit for a short while.

Back to Saturday morning. The pain had moved to the center of the lower back and any forward bending would aggravate it. It was bearable. The class had many who were in some sort of pain. We started with some sitting poses and I could feel my shoulders tighten. Did I sleep wrong. The class was hard and eventually we ended up at the ropes. The best 10 minutes were hanging down in sirsasana. I had done rope sirsasana in some time and that just relaxed me completely. I would highly recommend it....


The Yogi

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lower back pain - A revisit

I received a nice comment from an anonymous reader on an earlier lower back pain post - his lower back melted away I guess!!! Well little did he or she know that my lower back pain re-appeared on my left side. There was heavy lifting of 60 pound munchkins and that did the trick to my lower back. Old injuries have an interesting way of re-appearing when you think yoga took care of it. Coincidentally my knee pains disappeared. Its like a see-saw. Knee pains goes Back pain comes and vice-versa.

Monday night advanced yoga was hard, I failed miserably on the arm balancing poses, the poses I love the most have become my nemesis and my back hurt horrendously. Its been a horrendous three days till this evening. But I have chosen not to be miserable and didn't give permission to my backache to make me miserable nor the person who threatened to make my life miserable in utter mindless behavior. I rejected the pain both in my back and landed in my Wednesday night class with Nuvana at the gym. There is back ache, but there is resolve to get through the class.

I cannot bend to properly complete Uttanasana, so I bend as far as I can. The poses are challenging, but I choose not make them my nemesis, especially revolved triangle pose. Nuvana is great in moving the class along, there are many new yogis, all jazzed by her precision. The class has ballooned from about 10 to 25. I manage a good Vriksasana on my left foot, but not the right. It was an hour class - there were several variations of the triangle poses from Adhomukasvanasana. We ended with a small resting pose. I had kept my backache at bay, but it would appear in sharp intervals. So I checked in with Nuvana at the end of the class.

"Get into Adhomukhavirasana" she remarked! "Now!" Yeah right now she said. So off I went in the middle of the class dismissing itself. She walked over and stretched my spine. It felt good. Then she asked me to grab her ankles and while holding my lower back down she pulled her legs back. It It resulted in an intense stretch of the spine and the back. She asked me to get up and asked if it helped. "Of course it did!" I let out... The backache just melted was a 30 second yoga therapy session with long lasting effects.

I learnt another lesson - by not giving permission to the pain and misery I have permission to myself to be relieved from the pain. Fear of pain is the cause of misery in life - I freed myself from it today.


The Yogi

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bad Knees equate to bad posture....

The clicking and pain in my knees while performing standing poses returned after the new year. My right knee is especially bad. Any sort of step climbing or squats makes my brain automatically go into protection mode and my leg avoids extreme pressure. The knee clicking got bad enough, that it was time to get a yoga therapy session for knees this Friday with Nuvana.

We did several modified poses. The whole idea was to relax the knee and there are several poses such dandasana, supta padangustasana, badha konasana and a half form of dhanurasana that Nuvana combines with traction using belts and ropes to achieve relaxation of the knee. The stretching of the calf muscles and the muscle at the back of your leg right behind the knee lets the knee reposition. She also observed my bad posture. I was putting more weight on the right leg and it was possible that my really bad knee was the left one, forcing me to use more of the right and overwork it. She based it on another interesting phenomena. After the first round of knee traction, my painful right knee felt better, but the left knee became tight. I was reminded of an earlier post on bad knees I wrote in August 2008.

A balanced standing posture is important in maintaining balance of work our body has to do including the knees. I am very aware of it, and ever since I started practicing yoga, I make efforts to maintain a balanced standing posture described in the Tadasana pose in Light on Yoga. But its easy to fall back to the old habits, so its important to observe yourself standing. I guess there is a life lesson in what I just wrote - "be observant of your bad habits and make ongoing efforts to correct them or avoid them!"

Back to the Friday session, by the end of the 90 minutes, I was climbing stairs with no pain in either knee. This is the magic of Nuvana's Iyengar yoga therapy. Its been three days, no pain in the knee, and I am very observant of maintaining a balanced posture while standing.

I have re-learnt another life lesson. To get to a balance sometimes requires gentle tugging. You may think you have the bull by the horns, but sometimes gentle tugging is required on both sides to tame a rowdy bull.


The Yogi