Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pride and Prejudice, or How I Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Right Side

In the spirit of progress and renewal - abandoning tired old habits and thought patterns, replacing them with better ones, moving forward into the new year - I am going to make a confession.

I have been guilty of one of the seven deadly sins. Fortunately I am not religious in any way, so I don't expect that this is going to result in an eternity of torment. But your body does respond to your thoughts and emotions - this is a fact - so I think I'd better come clean anyway.

Pride. Pride is my mistake.

I have always been proud of my standing bow posture. (See for example my icon.) Okay, you can see why I'm proud of it - it is, objectively, quite a good posture! (SEE - there it is again, pride.) But you know what? I'm only proud of the left side. I've got pictures of the left side up all over the place - from vacations, from championships, from classes, from teacher training. The earliest one was taken in 2007. The left side is the one I use for my blog picture and for my new profile on the Ocean State Bikram Yoga website. (Which: check it out! I'm official!) But not the right side. Never the right side. Not a single picture exists of that posture on the right side.

Why do I have this prejudice against the right side?  You know what? I can't remember. I mean, the left side has always been easier. But in the beginning, it wasn't that big of a difference. Just a small preference, really. Both sides are pretty good. I can lock out on both sides. But sometime in 2007 I started favoring the left side, and I've kept it up ever since.

I've treated left-side-standing-bow like a favorite only child and I've treated right-side-standing-bow like an embarrassing second cousin. Left-side-standing-bow gets showered with gifts - really good ones like iPads - while right-side-standing-bow gets a brick for Christmas. It's like, if I were Petunia Dursley, the left side would be Dudley and the right side would be Harry Potter in the cupboard under the stairs. Poor thing.

So really, my mistakes are pride and prejudice. Aha! Now I have a title for this post!!

I have held this prejudice for going on 5 years now. I mean, why not? I'm just neglecting one half of my body - what could possibly go wrong??


I pulled my hamstring last week. In standing bow. On the good side. I was holding the posture (for once), kicking and stretching, equal and simultaneous, 50-50, feeling like everything was good in the world. And then one spot on the bottom of my standing leg thigh went snap. It didn't hurt - it just felt like snapping a rubber band. I didn't even move. All that moved was my brain. My brain said, "ooooooh, shit."

This is not really a big problem - it's just a small pull, I'm being very gentle and taking good care of it (hand on the floor for standing separate leg stretching, no pulling, check), and it should be all healed up in a couple more weeks.  Except - except! - I'm signed up for the Maryland regional championships next weekend. I'm competing next Saturday.

You see what this means, right??  I have to do the other side - the "bad side" - on stage in a leotard in front of everybody.

Everything is in divine order! 

(It's so irritating when that happens. I get it, I get it, I get the fricking message.)

Incidentally or maybe not, I got some amazing body work done just before Christmas by this guy named Bruce, who is a legend in these parts. He does energy healing (which sounds crazy but I don't know what else to call it) and chiropractic adjustment. This was my first Bruce session and it blew my mind. He's amazing. He looked at my body for a few minutes, barely touched me, and then knew 1) exactly what my problem was and 2) what specific emotion had caused it. The root of the problem was 100% emotional (and no it wasn't pride, it was a different one, I'm not going to say what) and it was fucking up the whole right half of my body. When Bruce named the emotion, I was just like - yup, absolutely. He was spot on. And this was no fuzzy science, this was a very precise emotion. And then the crazier part was that he made it go away. Not 100% cleared, but like 90% better. And then he did lots of fun snapping and popping to put stuff back into place, and at the end my body felt incredible.

And then I pulled my hamstring. Too bad for me! It is all part of the process!!

I'm taking a very "come as you are" approach to this upcoming championship. I've been practicing for it in a sort of half-assed way after class, and I'm sort of hoping that things will magically come together. I'm so not in it to win it, and for me, that's probably better! I'm just gonna go down to Baltimore, see my friends, teach some classes, drag my butt up on stage for 3 minutes, do my seven postures including that beautiful long-neglected right-side standing bow, cheer on my fellow yogis, and then go out for a drink. At least two drinks. I hope I can convince Lauren to drive.

Out with the old, in with the new!


On a related topic, the New York Times magazine published a somber article last week titled How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body. I read the whole thing. It's long and moderately interesting, but by the time I finished, I still wanted those 10 minutes of my life back.

There have been lots of good comments among the yogis on Facebook, all along the lines of: "Yes, you can get injured in any activity if you follow your ego and don't respect your own limits." Also: "Boy am I glad that we do Bikram!" (Surprisingly, for once, Bikram yoga is not mentioned once in the article, and all the postures that the article complains about are ones that are omitted from our series. Score.)

But the best response, by far, is this blog post by an Astanga yogi titled Reading Blogs Can Wreck Your Body. It is so damn good. You can skip reading the original article and just read this response - it will leave a better taste in your mouth. Check it out!

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