“A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges … a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as either a blessing or a curse.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Yoga & Allergy 2019: Recovery … and crash


From the time I published my previous update I was pleased to find stability. Though the symptoms of allergy persisted, I found myself feeling stable. I was held softly in practice every day and I was grateful for that.

I used antihistamines over a period of only 2 or 3weeks. I had two types of medication to try (generic medication since I did not want to go through the medical processes of identifying my specific allergy). Both seemed to offer some ease and support (I took them first thing in the morning).

One of the medications came with side-effects of general heaviness (a lethargic feeling) and some head-aches. It provided me with a spacious opening in the first few hours of the day, but consumed the rest of it. It took me a few days to realize that the down-feelings may be related to the medication. I haven’t consumed medicine for at least 15 years so I am not used to it being present in my life, in my body or in my attention.

Once I realized that there were undesirable side-effects I transition to using the medication that had less side-effects. I also started to pay attention to see when I could withdraw the medication completely. I was surprised to find that I didn’t need the medication anymore.

I was also surprised when on June20th I experienced a sudden turning point. I felt an internal shift in energy. I felt invited to “rebuild”, to take small steps towards deeper breath and vitality in practice. I kept this log of changes that took place in the practice and its transition back to a more whole and intense state:

June 20thTurning point
+ utkatasana x 4
+ 2 more breaths in mahamudra:
+ 1x
+ 1x
+ trying to add bhastrika at beginning of pactice … not steady yet x 6 anuloma x 6 anuloma x 6 anuloma x 6 anuloma x 6 anuloma x4 ujjayi
June 27th+ sound in parsva uttanasana
+ trikonasana sequence
+ increase step size + peak BK in pranayama x 6 anulom x 6 anuloma x 6 anulom x 6 anuloma x4 ujjayi
July 1st+ utkatasana R4
July 4th+ separate sitting sequence (convert static stay into later separate mahamudra)
+ add seated twist (start with S4)
July 7th+ kapalabhati 2×30 at beginning of practice
July 9th+ extend mahamudra to 8 breaths
July 10th+ introduce backbends (basic symmetrical variations only)
July 13th – drop back-bends (added too early)
July 16th+ re-intoduce backbends
+ transition from anuloma to pratiloma x 8 pratiloma x 8 pratiloma x 8 pratiloma x 8 pratiloma x4 ujjayi
July 19th+ exploration of longer BK in mahamudra: 8 seconds & 12 seconds8.0.12.0 x 8 pratiloma x 8 pratiloma x 8 pratiloma x 8 pratiloma x4 ujjayi
July 22nd– strained back … immobilized
August 1st+ on the mat with limited healing practice, full ujjayi breath capacity available (breath no longer cut of by pain).

As this log shows, a month after the “positive” turning point I strained my back. It seemed very severe when it happened (a lot more to say about this incident … maybe in another post). I was outside, I bent down to pick something up, a sharp pain hit me and took my breath away and I collapsed to the ground. I lay on the ground for 4 hours believing I would be able to get up and walk inside (my primary goal at the time) on my own. Eventually I succumbed to Iulia’s suggestion that we can an ambulance … and the paramedics came up and loaded me onto a stretcher and carried me inside to the bed.

I am now tending to my health within the context of this event. The healing seems to be well and rapid. My practice has shifted into a therapeutic context. I have most of my mobility back and am gradually testing for strength.

I have extended my graphing experiment to describe this period. What I thought was going to be a one-dip illustration has taken an unexpected and sudden second-dip.

The view over the years shows a positive change. As I was looking forward from mid-July it seemed I was on track to a full recovery (back to full practice) by the end of July. In past years the end of July would be the (earliest) time I would typically start a journey of recovery (from a lesser state of well-being) that would take at least a month.

The high resolution view of 2019 continues to show that breath was a steady and reliable quality throughout this period. Body and vitality took the deepest hit when I strained my back … more so than during the allergy period. Again, the come-back from the back strain seems (for now) to be quicker.

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