Today I am grateful for perseverance and the incredible results that it yields.
I have just finished my 28th yoga class in 27 days. In the event the math is confusing you, I did two classes today, to make up for not being able to attend this coming Friday. I was up at 5am to be on the mat at 6am and I left the house again at 5.15pm to be on the mat at 6pm (with my beloved as company for this one, which was nice!). I have never completed two practices in one day before and I really wasn't sure what to expect. I have seen people crawl out of the studio after doing a back to back (two classes with a 30 minute break in between). But I deliberately chose these times because often, on the days I practice at 6am, my muscles have forgotten by midday. So I figured, by 6pm, I'd be fresh as a daisy!
And I was right, mostly.
I did start to fatigue with five postures to go, but I stuck with it. Of course. You don't really have any other option in Bikram. It's not like you can nip out for a breather or pause the machine you're pedaling, you know? But something extraordinary happened! Well, more than one thing actually.
Let me introduce you to standing head to knee.
Otherwise known as Dandayamana Janushirasana.
The posture is in three stages. First you bend down and pick up your foot, balancing on one leg. The standing leg is locked, thigh contracted, kneecap lifts up. You stand here for a bit, balancing, before the next stage, which is kicking your heel out, straightening your leg, while keeping the standing leg locked. You hold this position for a bit, pushing your heel towards the mirror in front of you. Then you pull your elbows down towards the floor, without moving the extended leg up or down, standing leg still locked. If you can get your elbows below your knee, you then pull your body down to meet your thigh (I'm not up to this last part yet, I'm still working on getting my elbows below my knee). You repeat for the other leg, then you do both legs a second time.
Now, for the first time in my yoga history, I did not fall out once. Two sets, two legs each set. Rock solid for all four. Astonishing. Really, astonishing. I couldn't quite believe it was happening. I utterly nailed it and I'm going to BRAAAAAG like crazy, cos I have no idea when that will ever happen again. My average fall out is once, sometimes twice in the first set and once in the second set.
The second awesome thing that happened, was in head to knee pose with extreme stretching. Otherwise known as Janushirasana with Paschimottanasana.
Now this one looks similar to the one above, but this one is a compression posture, rather than a balancing (obviously, it's on the floor) and stretching posture. The point is to compress your thyroid, chest, belly into themselves - roll into a ball and get your forehead on your knee. If you have to bend your knee to do it (which I do and that's just my nose - forehead, forget it!), you end up looking a little like this guy:
I have a situation in my back, specifically my thoracic spine, called DISH. Which stands for Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis. Which essentially means four or more vertebrae in the middle of my back have fused flat, where there should be a curvature. My chiro tells me there is no fixing it, as it's structural (you can't unfuse bone. Makes sense). So, consequently in my yoga practice, there are quite a few postures I cannot receive maximum benefit, as I cannot round my spine to get my forehead on my knee, as is often the requirement of the posture. The closest I can get is my nose to my knee and that's on a good night. Except tonight I did. For the first time in over a year of practice, my forehead met my knee on both sides of this posture, in both sets. Astonishing.
When I got over the initial shock of what had just happened, my mind started racing as to how on earth this was possible. And a few new body sensations I've detected recently started to make sense. A totally new (in that I've never felt it in my body before) burning sensation started about five days ago, in my middle back when I do rabbit pose, which is an all-over stretch throughout your entire spine.
Rabbit pose. Otherwise known as Sasangasana.
Not muscular (heavens knows, I know what THAT feels like) - very different. Like my spine is sunburned and someone is rubbing it with firm pressure. Just in one particular spot, very localised. When I'm not in the posture, I feel a kind of armour-type feeling in that spot. Like there's a hard plate pressed up against that area, keeping everything in one position - particularly when I bend my arms and point my elbows backwards, stretching the skin on my back. And it aches a little. The final kinda crazy thing about all this, is for the last two nights, my body has been screaming out for calcium (I get a weird feeling in my legs when I need calcium). In fact, it's calling for it again now.
The body is always more limber second set. It stands to reason that the body will be more limber second class in 12 hours. But unless my flexibility is shifting somewhere else - say my pelvis for example - I do believe my spine may be healing the fusing that occurred as a youngster. Astonishing.
Lots to contemplate. With another spinal x-ray planned in 12 months certainly on the agenda to see if this assumption is correct. I look forward to continuing my practice and seeing where I am in another 12 months. I most certainly do not underestimate the healing capabilities of the body, when given the right environment and the right tools. I'm quietly excited by the thought :o).
And on that note, I'm off to wrap some presents for a very important birthday girl I will be spending the day with tomorrow.