Yoga Challenge Day #12: Opening the Hips


So, Wednesday night I decided to do a challenging yoga class since I’d done more restorative classes the previous two days. I searched Yoga Download’s inventory and found one that ended up with Compass Pose. I wasn’t familiar with that pose, and it wasn’t Crow or one of those I can’t stand, so I picked it. The description said it would stretch out my hamstrings and inner thighs, so I thought that might be a good balance to last week’s backbending practices.

The class was definitely as promised. Lots of lunges, forward bends and hamstring stretches got my legs and hips feeling loosey goosey. It was a strong Vinyasa (flow) practice with lots of standing poses interspersed with some chatarangas and sun salutations. I felt really strong … much stronger than last week. But the leg stretches were really burning. I hate stretching my hammies. The running I’ve done for years gets me really tight in that area, and it hurts. But I know it’s important to keep them stretched or tight hammies will start to throw off my pelvis which throws off my lower back. In other words, hamstring stretching will help me avoid lower back pain as well as other stuff. So, I complied. But, I have to admit I snarled at the teacher a little bit.

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About 3/4 of the way through the class, she started adding on to the already painful stretches. She encouraged me to go into full Monkey Pose – otherwise known as a full split. Yeah … I don’t think so. I did the best I could with my hamstrings yanking on me and burning the whole time. I was really beginning to despise that little 20-something teacher. She was going on about how she couldn’t get fully into the pose, but she wasn’t nearly as far away from it as I was. Finally – after an eternity – she let me get up. Searing pain in my hamstrings and numbness in the rest of my leg told me I’d probably gone a little too far. I made a mental note to back off on the other side and not let her encourage me to push beyond my edge.

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After I did more intense hip opening and inner thigh stretches – to the point where I thought my legs would fall out of their sockets, we actually started moving into compass pose. I was thrilled that the preparation stuff was over, and we could finally do the pose and end this torture. We rocked the baby which felt really good. It consists of holding your lower calf in your arms and pretending it’s a baby. It feels really good to my outer hip. Just as I started to think things were turning around, she tells me to put my right knee over my right shoulder. What? I sort of got into that, but then she wanted me to add my arms into the mix, and I totally lost it. I called her a few choice names, and did the best I could. There may be a little too much freedom in doing yoga at home. I think I would have been kinder if I’d been in public. It wasn’t very yogic of me at all.

The full expression of the pose. I didn't get there.
The full expression of the pose. I didn’t get there.

When I went to bed, I was so tired that I fell fast asleep. It felt really good, but I was really sore the next day. Thursday I did Yoga Nidra instead of a movement class and then tonight I did a gentler vinyasa class that was still a bit challenging, but I managed to complete the class with a sense of dignity and with the teacher’s reputation intact.

I am sleeping better. I’m feeling a lot more flexible, and I feel a bit stronger. My arms feel like they are getting stronger faster than my legs, but it may be that the classes I’ve done tend to challenge my legs more. They’ve all had a lot of standing poses. I don’t feel as anxious, but it may be that I’ve not had a lot of anxiety-producing drama going on. Work has been pretty smooth, and I’ve not been traveling like I was. I’ve settled into a routine of walking Ashok in the morning, going to work and doing my yoga in the evening. Even my animals are starting to get the flow of things. They met me at my mat this evening.





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