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This blog was expanded and appeared in +elephant Journal

There are days when I feel like a peacock or a crow and love doing pincha mayurasana and bakasana—even though these poses have not officially been "given" to me. These and other asanas provide me the simple satisfaction of becoming better at them over time (and they are fun.) It is one of the reasons I practice.

However, my Ashtanga practice these days might be considered "unauthorized" for other reasons as well.

I do home practice five times a week and led primary once a week, my usual Mysore teachers having departed for a more Ashtanga friendly city. Originally, adaptations and omissions were necessary because I could not do forward bends without a lot of pain (QL problem, see below). Backbends on the other hand, felt good even if I couldn't do them right. I am referring to my stoppers, standing from urdhva dhanurasana and not collapsing in laghu vajrasana. Note: intermediate poses up to kapotasana were given to me and/or ok'd by various teachers, some well known and/or certified or authorized before back issues began. 

The adapted practice includes standing poses, part of primary including the difficult ones (for me)—navasana, bhujapidasana and 2nd series up to kapotasana, a pose I had abandoned early in the injury phase. Bakasana and pincha mayurasana were added on my own. I also add hip stretching on days when back is stressed so as not to "lose" kormasana and supta kormasana.

I confess that without a teacher, my practice—right or wrong—has become more inner directed, and I value the attendant awareness most of the time. There are many times when I yield to being a slug (wonder what "slug" is in sanskrit....) and feel defeated by the backbend rule and the little thunderbolt, neither of which seem to have "improved" in over a year. 

Backbends still make my back feel great though, and I am often filled with gratitude for the practice, compassion for my back...and my age. Believe when at last I have moved through the pain, I will have greater strength, renewed flexibility, an uninterrupted practice, and will have genuinely enjoyed—for a time—an adapted sequence. 

I confess finally that I'll be grateful too when a teacher appears to direct my practice in the way s/he deems appropriate.


See link below: a young yogi's back improves/heals with 2nd series backbends, etc.

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