Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back in focus / Focus in the back

I sure am having an interesting yoga week. :)

After I did possibly the deepest backbend of my life, not once, but three times in a row on Sunday, you can imagine that I felt WICKED smart when I felt a sudden sharp sensation in my lower back during class on Monday. It wasn't acutely painful, but it was acute, and completely unfamiliar. It scared me! I've never had ANY form of lower back pain before. I've also been given doom-and-gloom predictions from several people about how I'm going to kill my lower back if I don't fix my backbends. But why would this be happening now?! I spent all weekend focusing on doing backbends that didn't rely on my flexy lower back. Although there was that cobra... damn... yeah... but it felt so great at the time, not forced at all! But in hindsight, maybe I was pushing my luck by doing it three times in a row? (Do not try at home, kids.)

Anways. My back was a little tweaked. And let me tell you, it got my attention!! I snapped into focus as soon as I felt that weird sensation. And it was funny, because if you'd asked me before that moment, "are you focusing?" I would have said, "yeah, sure, of course." But after I felt that tweak? My focus was magnified about 10 times. It brought me ALL the way into my body. I went through the rest of the class really cautiously, by the book, with intense focus on my spine, my stomach, and my technique.

The next day, I went into class with a little trepidation and a lot of determination. I went in like an explorer. "Ok, let's see what's going on in here today." There were no more really sharp sensations, just some soreness. I started the class feeling totally bummed out - "I can't believe I messed up my back!" And then during half moon, the thought popped into my head: "Can this be a gift?" And that idea stuck with me. There's new information coming to the surface. Take it as a gift. Study it. Use it. Learn from it. If you can't go into that usual backbend, where do you go instead? What makes the yoga protective? Where are the safety features in the postures?

This morning, my lower back was still kind of tender, but my class was great. My focus felt rock solid. Stomach, spine, and technique. Still not going into the very deepest backbend, but so what? I didn't follow my usual habits. I paid attention to the mechanics of my spine from start to finish. And after class, my teacher (who sees me in class ALL the time), said "WOW, you are looking REALLY good right now." I asked her what looked good. She said camel. I told her that I had "broken my back!" this weekend and she was totally surprised.

How about that??

Always, always learning.

And apparently (according to my on-call backbend expert!), it's fairly normal to feel weird soreness that passes really quickly after going super deep for the first time. I guess I can buy that. But I think I will also be a little more judicious the next time I venture out to the edge of my frontier...


Duffy Pratt said...

I think you are so far into your yoga practice that these moments are pretty infrequent. I get little tweaks like that all the time. Sometimes from bad form, I'm sure. But just as often because I opened up something new that hadn't really worked for years. And, yes, often its scary. And yes, every injury is an opportunity to learn more, but that doesn't mean I am going to go looking to injure myself.

thedancingj said...

Oh. So this happens to everyone else ALL the time?! That did not even occur to me. HAH. Thanks for the insight. :) And yes... it's not really a good idea to seek OUT the injuries... I feel like every studio has a few of those people who are just ALWAYS injured, and I always thought that was kinda silly.

Mei said...

Be very careful of the back! For some reason I FEAR going into backbends during class, but have no qualms doing walking wheel after class. Strange.

I think my back's just acting / opening up. What say you?

Oh oh, question time. I read on the yoga forum [haha, stalker!] that your right knee hurt after advanced. Well, mine hurts like a beeyotch and clicks, I can't even do fixed firm without wincing! What did Emmy say was the problem?

ActionJoJo said...

I agree I wouldn't go looking for an injury. But with an injury definitely comes incredible awareness and focus. With an injury, you do not take your body for granted. You honor it and respect it for what it tells you that day - its limitations and its strengths. Injuries teach us these things so that when we feel good, we still practice the honoring and respecting of our bodies. My favorite teacher once nodded in agreement when I told her my injuries have brought more self-awareness. She thought this was good for if I am able to feel pain, I would also be able to feel pleasure and joy. "Do you know how many people don't feel anything?" she asked me. It's taken me a long time to accept and eventually love my knee injury because it is a part of who I am.

Sometimes after class, I too, get little tweaks. Just yesterday, my right glute was feeling a little pulled. Freaked me out at first because I thought that I injured it again. But thanks to the self-awareness I've developed over the years, I went through the thought (analyzing) and intuitive (feeling) process and I was eventually able to discern that the feeling although really similar to my old injury was different. This morning, right glute is fine. :)

Injuries offer us the opportunity to never take advantage of anything especially our bodies and our practice.

bikramyogachick said...

I find soreness in my lower back and hamstrings comes and goes, usually shows up during challenges. You are smart to suck that tummy in and pay attention. sounds like you opened something up. Like you said, it's probably going to be a gift! More progress waits around the corner!

thedancingj said...

I had a dream last night that I literally could NOT do a backbend without falling on my butt. Hah! I forgot all about it til I came back and read this thread...

Mei - HAH, wasn't that from like 6 months ago? Oh no, I guess I did mention it recently. Emmy told me that I have a tendency to hyperextend, and the soreness in my knees was probably happening because I was learning to lift UP the knee instead of just jamming it back (which is progress!). She said DO NOT PUSH IT. I ended up skipping out on adv for a few weeks on her advice, cause there is sooooo much lotus stuff in the series that you can't do with a gimpy knee. Pretty soon I was fine, even better than before. But yea - DON'T do more than you can do. If there's sharp pain, STOP and go back to basics. Keep focusing on standing head to knee. It has all the answers! :)

Bmoney said...


That sucks! I would not go so deep for awhile. All the stuff we we working will make you rebuild those lower spinal muscles.

remember to breathe and go slower in super deep backbends!!!

Mei said...

Oooh thanks! I think that's what's going on with the right knee. Can you believe it's nearly getting locked every time I stand up?!?!

How totally awesome / cool!

Now if only my left knee can do the same ;)

Happy weekend!