Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Zoning In

I almost didn't practice tonight.  I did my Ashtanga practice this morning, so I didn't really need the movement that much.  Though it did feel like I needed something.  Enter the ever-wise Nicole.  She's a scary insightful teacher and bodyworker who teaches her own version of Forrest Yoga.  I say "her own version" because I think it's very different from a "typical" Forrest yoga class.  Mostly, I think, in that it's a lot "softer" than a typical Forrest class.  Oh she knows how to kick your ass, but I think she understands that you can get people to work more and to work more intelligently by giving them options.  She's well known for saying at the beginning of her classes that if you feel like you need to do something completely different from what she is offering to go ahead and do that (within reason, lol).  "If your body feels like it needs a 90 minute savasana then go ahead and do that."

Anyways, I was rolling my right glute around on a tennis ball in the lobby of the studio trying to work out a new kink that my body has given me.  She asked if I was coming to class and I said that I wasn't sure because I already practiced in the morning.  She said, "if you feel like you just want to be in a space with other people and just stretch, you know you can do that in my class."  Ok.  Didn't take much convincing :-)

My practice ended up being really good.  I didn't do any mind-blowing poses--I'm sure to the outside eye it probably looked like I was just laying around on the floor.  But it was all super deep internal stuff; just being still in a pose and working slowly and super consciously to engage and release certain muscles in my body.  As I mentioned earlier, I have a new body tweak that I am very grateful for: cramped/pinched piriformis on the right side.  Brief anatomy aside: the piriformis from about the middle/bottom of your sacrum, across the length of one side of the glute and connects to the top of the femur (thigh) bone.  It's purpose is to externally rotate your thigh (turn it away from the mid-line of your body) and to lift it out to the side (a.k.a, "abduct").  When it's tight, it can squeeze the sciatic nerve and literally be a "pain in the ass." (sorry, I couldn't resist the pun, lol).  Anyways, that muscle has been feeling pinched ever since I resisted an adjustment during my Ashtanga practice on Monday morning.  It's not causing a ton of pain, just feeling pinched and tight.  It's also serving at least 2 larger purposes:

(1) It's drawing my attention away from my low back/SI joints.  After last week's body work session, I am truly realizing that the majority of the pain and discomfort I feel in that area now is psycho-somatic--where the muscles are still gripping and feeling pain-type sensations in the area that was hurt, even though there is no more strain.  Apparently (and kind of obviously, lol) this is very common in areas of chronic injury/pain.  The big revelation for me came during the last body work session.  We discovered that the intense pain/electric-jolt type sensations that I usually feel whenever someone works on that area disappear or become greatly reduced when I touch/work on the area.  Basically, my body is still protecting that area.  Marie said that because the area's had pain for an extended period of time, my attention is always there, so part of me is always protecting it.  The other indication came when I was working on the area at home.  I realized that the "electric" sensation that I did feel when I was working on it was very similar to the sensation I felt when Marie first worked on my hip flexors.  The muscles were tight, so my body jumped at her touch.  Same thing when I worked on the area.  Not pain, not "injury."  Tight muscles.  That's much more manageable :-)  So, realizing all this I'm starting to practice less gingerly (as I would for an injury) and more consciously--being aware of really relaxing the muscles when they don't need to be working and not tightening up in defense all the time.  Right, back to the new piriformis tweak.  With my attention diverted to a new location in the same general area, the "pain" I usually feel in my SI joint is minimal.  Yet another good indication of the pain being psycho-somatic.  The rest of the "pain" that I feel there right now is the result of changing things around in that area.  Nicole said that now the SI joints will probably feel tender because I'm literally "re-wiring" the area, and that I will probably experience a light feeling of compression due to re-positioning the sacrum and spine.  But, it's all just a result of the work...like having sore muscles after a good work-out; the tenderness eventually leaves and you are left with stronger muscles :-)

(2) The new tweak is making me stop gripping the glute muscles all the time and how to use the legs and core more.  Because, right now, every time I attempt to grip the glute muscles, I get a twinge in the tush :-) (again, couldn't resist, lol).  I spent the whole class period working super consciously and paying attention to the sensation that I was experiencing in that area so that I could learn how to use other parts of my body to accomplish the same actions in the basic poses that I do nearly everyday.  The majority of my practice this evening focused first on opening and releasing the glute muscles in restorative/yin poses.  I kept my feet on the ground during the abdominal work section and just focused on engaging the correct muscles (a.k.a the abs and the inner line of the legs...not the glutes and the back, lol) without actually doing the movement associated with abdominal exercises.  Surprise!  You can "do" abs without doing a single crunch :-)  When I finally got up to move, my entire focus was on engaging the muscles of the legs (quads, hamstrings, inner leg muscles) and lifting through the core and really using the breath to move and open--and stop using and gripping the glute muscles in every pose.  I don't think I truly realized how much I do it until I got not-so-pleasant sensations every time I did it, lol!  I'm even engaging them in downward facing dog--when your glute muscles have nothing to do!  Also, the whole dropping the tailbone action (to lessen the curve of your lower back and stretch the hip flexor area) is very hard to do when you're squeezing your glutes!  Oddly enough, after all this work tonight, it actually feels like my torso got taller!

It's wildly fascinating and kind of fun to work this deeply--talk about doing something to clear and focus your mind!  It's really cool to work on this level--to zone in so much that you can feel and access different muscles and feel which parts of your body feel kind of "dead," or "dull."  And it's always fun to actually feel your breath moving through your muscles (well, at least some of them, lol).  At one point, I swear I could actually feel the pulse of my body.  Very cool.

During the philosophy reading of my homework, the person who did the translation for the Yoga Sutras that we are reading talks about actually starting to "welcome" pain, because it is a teacher.  I feel like I'm really starting to understand that: my body is trying to guide me into correct movement and alignment by giving me "tweaks" and "issues" to work with and explore.  If this new "tweak" is still here come this weekend during teacher training, I will definitely be grateful.  Friday is Urdhva Dhanurasana day (Upward facing bow pose in English; "wheel" in any class non-Ashtanga based class).  This is a pose where I know I grip the glutes and it's very hard to me to access the other muscles that support the same action in the pose as the glutes (but without the restriction that comes with gripping your butt).  I would definitely appreciate such clear inner guidance :-)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

End of yoga teacher training weekend 4: More musings...

I'm in a very "museful" place these days, lol (new word, I just added it to the dictionary).  What's amazing is that for all the confusion and conflict I feel about the yoga these days, I can never deny one thing--I never want the training weekends to end.  I can't believe that it's almost over.  Just 3 more weekends, a little over a month, left of the training and then we're finished.  It kind of feels like it's just started again, because the other teacher (Jennie) has stepped in and taken over the teaching.  It actually kind of reminds of how Jennie described reincarnation.  She described it as starting the next life at the place where you left off at the last one, but retaining all of the knowledge and lessons from the last one.  That's kind of what this feels like with switching teachers mid-training--like I've left one part behind and started at a new place.  Some old patterns have left, some still hang around :)  I really like how Jennie teaches, though it's hard to put a finger on exactly  what it is about it.  It feels like there's more structure and guidance, but it also feels like there's more...freedom?  I'm not sure if that's the exact word, but it's kind of that feeling.  Also like there's more trust, and kind of like we're closer to the same level.  Whereas Natasha is...well, Natasha, lol.  She's kind of a big deal in the yoga world.  She's amazing, and a really down to earth person, but sometimes it feels like there's some kind of distance there.  It could also just be me :)

It also feels like the group of people in the training is starting to come together more--like something has shifted and we've gotten closer to each other.  Again, maybe it is just me, and that I've started to become more open and close to the people in my training.  But it also feels a little more universal--like the initial groups of friends that formed are crossing and meshing together.  I'm not sure how it happened, but it kind of feels like the shift happened during Saturday's philosophy section, after one of the people in the training basically talked about wanting guidance, direction and connection outside of the training--to that same kind of open and deep connection to like-minded people that we have when we're together.  It almost seemed like she was at the place I was at for a lot of last year and sometimes still find myself in--not knowing how to live in this world; knowing what we know and experiencing all of the things that we have.  How do you go back to living in a world where sometimes everything around you seems superficial and almost fake?  Where you feel like you can no longer relate to the people around you and that you used to? 

It's definitely scary and feels very isolating and lonely.  But, for me, it's by realizing that we're all essentially working towards the same things--and struggling with the same issues.  Even the person who seems superficial and consumed by the desire to accumulate the best and most expensive material things.  It's not the things that they're truly seeking, it's the feeling that they have when they get it: a sense of worth, respect, connection to similar people, connection to something greater than you, joy, peace, strength and security, love...when you break it down to the bare essentials, to the roots, it really seems like we're all actually searching and craving the same things, it's just expressed differently.  I realized it by talking to other people, anyone--not just yoga people.  Random people on the trains and buses, co-workers, bosses...when I really listen, with full attention, I literally heard them saying the same things I was feeling and working with.  Jennie said that there is a saying that when you're ready and the time is right, your guru will find/come to you--or you will find him/her, something to that effect.  I think that's very true and so many times, it comes from completely unexpected places, not just in the yoga world.  For example, the more we read about the sutras and how it describes how to relate to people, the more I'm impressed with my former boss.  In so many ways, he found and accomplished exactly what the sutras suggest.  I don't think I ever realized how much I learned from him or from working in that job.  Anyways, my point is that there are many "gurus" out there--experts in their fields who have found peace, ease, clarity and light in areas or times that are dark, scary and confusing; and they exist throughout the world and across vocations, cultures, philosophies, and religions.  The challenge is to be open to it not coming from expected places and to be willing to really listen and connect.  Even if it's only something you need to hear for a few minutes--rather than months or years of instruction--the information and the person you need to hear it from it out there.

The teaching assistant (Tamara) also said that we all have an inner guru, or teacher.  Think about all the things that we have encountered and overcome in our lives thus far--somewhere inside us is an inner compass, or guide, that knows exactly what we need--even if it's outside guidance, it knows where and how to find it.  Calming ourselves enough to hear it?  Now that's a real challenge!  So many old habits exist in our mind and body that block access to it (I found out this weekend that the Sanskrit word for those are called, "samskaras.")  I really see it come up in me when it comes to teaching.  Formal setting with people watching that I know know more than me and are better than me: I shut down and feel like I don't know what I'm doing or talking about.  I feel very stupid, incompetent and weak.  Take away the setting and the people and I end up teaching spontaneously to some random person I don't know: the words and knowledge that I've acquired flows out easily, naturally and confidently.  It's rather annoying and frustrating that the block and behavioral/emotional pattern exists.  But, knowing that the knowledge and capability does indeed exist somewhere inside of me is a huge comfort and encouragement.

And that's the thing, accessing it--that inner guide/teacher or just simply the place of knowledge--requires openness, patience & compassion (yourself included!), the willingness to change (even if you don't know what the change is), a calm mind and the willingness to really listen-both to yourself and the world around you.  No matter how frustrated with "the outside world" I get sometimes, I'm always reminded that it is a source of feedback, inspiration and connection, not something to be completely shut out.  I have by no means perfected this--or am even at a point where I find it regularly!  I catch glimpses of it.  But I'm working on it and towards it :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bodywork session #3, more musings

I just had my 3rd session/appointment (whatever you want to call it) with my bodyworker yesterday (her name is Marie, I'm tired of saying "my bodyworker," takes too long, lol).  In this meeting we went over pictures that we took from the last appointment.  She took a bunch of me standing normally from different angles and in other positions as well as video so we could see what my body did once it started moving.  After I got over the immediate, "oh my god, look at the face I'm making!  I look like such a geek!  I don't like _____ and _____  or ______ about my body," it was really interesting to actually see what my body looks like when I move, or am just standing still:

1.  I totally look like I was hunching over, even though I thought I was standing up straight!  I could actually see it, my shoulders are rolled forward...that's the tightness of the pectorals that she was talking about
2.  I also look like I'm leaning forward, like all my weight is in my toes, even though, again, I thought I was standing vertically!  Marie said that I am a very "forward-moving" person, ain't that true!  It also has a lot to do with trying to balance out the anterior tilt (which is also very clear in the pictures).
3.  The left hip and shoulder are so obviously higher than the right, it's really crazy to actually see it.  I've never had issues with either of these things before, it's still so hard to believe.  But there is no discounting what I see in the pictures, lol.
4.  Interestingly enough, the left shoulder and right shoulder become even when I raise them out to the side in a "T" position.  She told me that I need to work on strengthening the muscles that bring the shoulder blade down on that side.  I forgot to ask which one that was, lol, and we ended up focusing on something else during the meeting, so we both kind of forgot about it.
5.  During squats, I have great upper body position, she was very impressed that I didn't move out of alignment there when she had me raise my arms above my head.  She said usually people will start bending or arching in their back to compensate for the weight of their arms.  I didn't do that.  Gold star there.  No star when it came to knee-ankle alignment, I'm way too far forward.  One reason she had me do squats was to gauge how strong my glutes are.  They're not, lol.  That's why the alignment is bad. 
6.  I need to work on engaging my core.  No surprise there, I know it's an issue.  She took a picture of me in forearm plank--no core engagement, I'm sticking my butt up in the air.  Busted.  :)
7.  Super shiny gold star for 0 hamstring tension, lol.  Thank you Ashtanga, lol.  She couldn't believe how open my hamstrings were, lol.  No gold star for lifting my head up when I raise up from a forward bend.  She videotaped me coming up from a forward bend and literally the first thing I did was look forward.  Which is not good for neck or back because I'm compressing the cervical spine.  The whole spine (neck included) should be in a straight line when I come up from a forward bend.  I'll work on remembering that.

So, those were the highlights of the pictures and videos.  The rest of the meeting focused on my hips.  She worked on releasing the psoas again.  No where near as painful this time or as sensitive.  The first time she worked on it I was quite literally twitching at her touch when she worked on the right side, lol.  Hardly any issues this time.  Huge progress.  The other huge thing was discovering just how tight my right quad is.  I knew it was tight, but I didn't realize it was that tight.  In poses that stretch the quads, it's always a little tight on the right side, but I've always thought it was still pretty open because I could almost "do the full pose."  But, apparently I wasn't doing it with the correct tilt in the pelvis.  I was taking advantage of already having an arch in my low back.  She kept my hips neutral (not letting me tip them forward) and holy cow, the right side was SO tight.  I couldn't move my foot in very close (picture knee on bench, bend foot in toward bum...but no arching your back).  She had to remind me to breathe because the stretch was so intense.  Left side, just fine.  She thinks that is a huge issue relating to the low back problem.

When the pelvis tips too far forward, it creates an arch in the low back, thereby compressing the low back.  In order to reverse it you need several things: open hip flexors & open quads (if those are tight, they hold your pelvis tipping forward, because that's literally what they are designed to do...bring your pelvis and your thigh towards each other) and strong lower abdominals (to literally curl your tailbone under you and the front of your pelvis up).  Problem is...I don't have any of that, lol.  Or I have very little.  Combine that with the left hip being higher and apparently that's enough to cause problems in the back.  One other little fun fact is that some major supporting muscles are not strong enough: gluteus maximus (right side) and gluteus medius (left side).  It was very clear in the pictures and video.  When she had move up and down in a crescent lunge, my left knee would track more towards the outside more than the right side did--which is indicative of weakness in the gluteus medius--that is the muscle on the outside the hip that helps keep you from collapsing in the hip when you walk, they're basically like hands holding the sides of your hips in place.  And apparently, my left one is weaker than my right.  Interesting fun fact considering that my left hip is higher than the right.  It's almost like I collapse a little on the left side.  Lots going on there.  It feels like there's a lot of imbalances left over from the foot injury and from attempting to heal the injury and they've never really been addressed.  The focus was always on the foot, rather than how it was effecting the rest of the body (which is how this body work is different from physical therapy).

She asked me what I was thinking and feeling when we finished.  I said that all this just makes me want to go for a run.  My legs (bum included) used to be so strong.  I also told her about how I haven't felt like practicing during these last couple of weeks that I've been working with her.  She asked why, what would make me want to practice again?  Honestly, I'm not sure.  Sometimes I feel like the yoga isn't good for my body, or at least that it's not enough; that it needs other things.  Again, that's something that I've said before, it just feels like it's becoming much more apparent these days.  There's also something else that I told her kind of spontaneously that I hadn't really thought about before, but I think is a big influence.  "I feel like I don't know how to move without hurting myself."  Part humor, largely not.  I had SO many injuries when I ran.  Every time.  Shall I list them?  There's too many, let's not.  Though I had far less when I ran cross country.  Probably because I tend to run more naturally when I'm out in nature--go figure, lol.  I feel like my posture is better and my attitude is better--more relaxed and just enjoying the run.  Anyways--lots of injuries from running.  Got injured when I played volleyball with friends (hello wrist sprains!).  Got injured during a hike.  Injured in yoga.  Though I didn't actually get injured in rock climbing it definitely contributed to the recent shoulder injury. 

"I feel like I don't know how to move without hurting myself."  So, this time, I finally stopped.  All the other times, I just kept pushing through whatever pain was there.  Marie said that was actually very mature and wise.  Took a long time to learn it, lol.  It still isn't always my first instinct, but I'm learning.  But you know what, can't stay immobile forever, you get injuries/issues that way too, lol.  When you don't use your body, then the muscles get weak and then you can't even support the weight of your own body in simple, everyday things--like walking--let alone actually exert yourself.  The jobs that I have done since I moved here involve very little physical activity.  I literally SIT all day long.  Even in the security/loss prevention job.  No wonder my butt is weak, I sit on it all day!  And how good can it be for the low back to constantly have all this weight sitting directly on it?  It's not.  She also asked me "the question," "Do you like your job?"  Whatever, it works for now.  I have one, they treat me well, the people I work with are very nice, it's extremely low stress, they pay me well, I have benefits, I can practically do whatever I want (I'm writing this at work), there's very little to complain about.  But it is by no means long-term; God I hope it's not long-term.  It works for now.  Beyond that, I have no idea, and I'm tired of trying to figure it out.  So, no doubt there's something to be worked out there.  But right now there's something more immediate that needs attention--the yoga.

I'm about half-way done with the training.  This weekend is a training weekend and the first one with Jennie Cohen.  After this, there are only 3 more weekends, and then I'm done.  Assuming I pass the exam, in about a month, I will be certified to teach yoga.  And I'm hardly practicing right now.  I think the break was much needed but, it's become clearer and clearer that if I continue with the yoga, I have to really change how I practice it.  There's just too much going on that can really be addressed in a class setting....or in the Mysore room.  How much quad and hip flexor stretching do you see going on in the Primary Series?  The shoulder issue I could address in there because it's a subtle action that I need in all the poses, I just have to move slowly and with enough attention to get it.  But everthing else just feels like it's something that I can only fully address and work on either in a consistent private session with someone who knows what I need (can we say "expensive") or in a home practice.  Which is the one part of yoga that has been the hardest for me to work on.  Doing my own practice, consistently, away from studio or teacher.  And it's becoming very clear that that's the direction I need to go.  I'm not entirely sure why I'm so resistant to it.  Possibly because I feel like I'll be losing the connection to the community I've grown to love. 

Yeah, I think that's a lot of it.  I've spent a lot of time out here on my own, doing everything on my own that it's been nice to be around people and not have to do everything myself--even if it's just having someone else lead me through a yoga practice, lol.  But I remember reading an introduction to a book on yoga and the person had said that, "at some point, the only person who could take your further/deeper into your yoga practice is you."  It kind of feels like it's getting to that point, if it's not there already.  How much of that can you really do when you don't have your own practice.  The Ashtanga practice comes close, because I am doing it on my own, but it's still within a certain structure.  And I'm not sure that it's really working for me anymore.  Also, as I learned from having to do nearly every single track practice on my own during my last season, there's a certain kind of inner strength that can only come from doing your own practice; from finding ways to motivate yourself and push yourself in a healthy and encouraging way without constant outside support.  And I feel like I've really lost touch with that.  It kind of feels like this is the place I'm supposed to work at right now: how do I have my own practice without completely losing touch with the community that I have grown to love?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bodywork sessions and what happens when you take away the yoga

There's a lot swirling around in my head right now and I feel like I need to write about it.  Normally, this would be one of the things that I keep to myself, but not this time. 

First, a little background: I've hardly practiced during the last couple of weeks.  Partly because I've started seeing a body worker/postural-therapist type person and it was recommended to not practice what I usually practice so that the work she is doing has a chance to integrate itself into my body.  When I went to see her last Tuesday, my left shoulder was higher than my right and the shoulder muscles were super tight/tense.  I also hold my head too far forward and down, which can strain the erector muscles which run all the way from your neck to your lower back.  I was very tight across the "front line of the chest," meaning all the pectoral muscles, and the external muscles of the shoulder were weak. We discovered that my left hip is about a 1/4 of an inch higher than my right one and that the right side of my body is compressed.  We also discovered that my pelvis sits in an anterior tilt (meaning there is too much of an arch in my lower back) which is probably contributing to the pain I feel in my low back.  In short, for all the yoga that I do, my upper body (from pelvis to head) is far from relaxed (which makes sense given that most of my yoga is very intense on the upper body) and there's a lot of issues in my body that have not really been addressed. 

So, this last week, I did one Forrest yoga class on Thursday morning that was a "classic" Forrest yoga class: lots of standing poses, abs, and very few chaturangas and downward dogs.  It was a good Forrest class, and probably very beneficial for shoulder rehab, but I didn't leave with that feeling of being relaxed & refreshed that I usually get from a vinyasa-type class.  Sunday I practiced the sequence that I had to write for my teacher training.  Monday I took a 2-hour "workshop" (a.k.a, regular class that is 30 minutes longer than normal) at my yoga studio.  I hadn't really planned on taking it, but they needed sign-in help--when I help sign-in a workshop like this, that also means I get to take it for free.  It was a really good class that actually did work on a lot of the things the body worker I'm seeing wants me working on.  But other than those three practices--that was it, between last Tuesday and today.  Which is very odd for me--much less than I usually practice.  It doesn't seem like so little when I put it down on paper, but it sure felt like a long time, lol.  Other than that, all I did were the exercises (a.k.a "homework") that she gave me and near 2 mile-walks every day with my friend's dog that I was taking care of.

When I saw her yesterday, she said that I looked "lighter."  Not as in weight, but as in my shoulders didn't look as heavy.  Which is a good thing, I guess.  I looked in the mirror and they definitely didn't look as tight as they did during the first time that I saw her.  The exercises she gave me to do definitely feel like they were working on the correct muscles in my shoulder.  There's still some pain in there and the muscles feel kind of knotted up, but it also feels like there's more mobility than usually.  You know the classic triceps stretch where you raise your arm above your head, bend at the elbow and let your hand fall behind your head?  Lately, that one has felt painfully difficult.  Since lessening the yoga and working with the body worker, I can now get my arm in that position and actually stretch the triceps muscle.  So something is definitely working.  Yesterday she focused less on my shoulder and more on the issues in the lower half of my body.  She also took a lot of pictures and video so I could see the imbalances in my body--which is actually really cool.  It looks like most of the imbalances are in my hips--which makes sense given that one is higher than the other.  She also worked on "releasing the foot," a.k.a, standing with a small, hard ball under your foot directly on that tight area between your arch and your heel.  Ouch.  But afterwards, there was less rolling to the outside of my foot when I walked.  The big thing yesterday was the work in the psoas.  Oh boy.  She literally dug--gently, lol--into my abdomen, under the ab muscles to "release" the psoas muscle.  The psoas is a major hip flexor muscle.  Basically, it literally connects your torso to your leg.  It connects the 5 vertebrae of the lumbar spine (low back) to the upper head of your thigh bone (femur).  So: after many years of running and with walking as my primary mode of transportation, it was pretty tight, the right more than the left (which makes sense given that I had to use it to hold up my right leg when I was on crutches).  It was mildly painful when she found it (again, she had to dig a little, it's buried beneath the ab muscles) but when she was just holding pressure on it, it was ok...so it wasn't quite as painful as I expected (which means she's good at what she does, lol).  However, afterwards, it didn't feel like there was a huge difference, but it definitely felt different--in a good way.  It felt like there was more space in that area and, surprisingly, a little less pain in my low back.  All the usual muscles around the area of my low back that hurts were still tight, but there was significantly less pain that usual. 

I'll be seeing her at least one more time and she's going to attempt to help me strengthen my "core" without my legs or my back muscles taking over.  This should be interesting.  It's something I've been trying to figure out for a while.  I can get the upper abs to work no problem...the lower ones, I swear half the time I can't even feel if they're working.  She was telling me to try to "tuck" my tailbone, so that there is less of an arch in my spine, and she said that I was doing it, but I didn't feel it, lol.  So, next week should be interesting.  She also mentioned something about working the glute muscles, because the right one is stronger than the left, lol.  Oh boy.  I did laugh a bit during the photo session when she asked me to do a standing forward bend: "bend forward with your arms raised in front of you and try to touch the floor."  After a year of practicing the Ashtanga Primary Series I "have no problem with tension in the hamstrings," lol.  Sometimes when the hamstrings are really tight, they can pull on the low back and create pain (the hamstrings attach at the sitting bone to the back of the knee).  Nope, no tension there, lol; I don't just touch the floor, I rest my whole hand on it.  It's the little things that make me happy :)

Anyways, with all this work being done on my body and not as much physical activity as I'm used to, my head's in kind of a weird place.  What's odd is that I thought I would miss the yoga more than I am.  Surprisingly, there's no restless urge to run out and go to a class.  It's not necessarily feeling content, I just don't feel like moving.  Partly because I am almost afraid to move because I don't want to undo all the work that she's doing, lol.  But I also don't feel like going out or like socializing.  I've mentioned it in previous posts, that there's a "hermit" part of me that is kind anti-social that tends to come out more when I don't practice as much yoga.  I don't really feel like engaging with the world and am fine just sitting at home and watching shows on Hulu.  Which I know is no better for the tightness in my body than going out and walking for hours.  But I am kind of surprised that I don't miss the yoga more.  Maybe the rest was really needed. 

But it feels like there's something else kind of stirring beneath the surface...similar to what I felt when I was still working at Saks, just not as intense.  And this has been growing since I started the training, not just since the start of the bodywork.  It's kind of a general dissatisfaction for the way things are going in my life.  I didn't know entirely what to expect from the yoga teacher training, but, based on the experiences of my friends who have taken this and other trainings, I expected...more.  I don't know exactly what more, just, I don't know, "more," lol.  Maybe it's because there's so much time in between the training weekends right now, so it doesn't feel as immersive as I thought it would be.  But there's only 4 weekends left, and then I'm done.  I'm sure there's still a lot to learn, but part of me is really starting to wonder, was it all worth it?  I said in one of the posts that I wrote just before the training that I was ready for whatever needed to come from this training, even if it meant "losing my practice."  I guess I just didn't really think that it would; because that's what it feels like right now.  There's not a whole lot of desire to practice anymore and I kind of didn't expect that. 

Actually, now that I think about how it feels, I know exactly what it feels like: "burn-out."  Actually, that's kind of how life feels in general lately, "burn-out."  I thought it would fade after I switched jobs.  But even in this extremely low-stress, can-hardly-call-what-I-do-work "job," I still feel it.  I watched a clip recently of Kino MacGregor (senior Ashtanga teacher) talking about yoga as a "spiritual practice," (which is what it is "meant" to be) and there was a story that she told about the first time she went to India.  A friend of her's there decided that she "needed to run away from her life and get away from everything 'physical' and go live in an ashram," which I can definitely relate to (though more living in some remote nature location and less ashram, lol).  And Kino said that it got her wondering how many times someone can pull a "geographic," moving from one place to another, before you realize that "you carry your problems with you."  I made a pretty dramatic job change.  Granted it's not a huge "geographic," but I think the same idea still applies because I still have the same feelings stirring beneath the surface (though less intense). 

Makes me wonder, what is it that I really need to change in my life?  It kind of feels like there's always something I'm trying to distract myself from so that I don't have to feel/address it--either through movement, television, books, whatever.  Stop moving long enough and it's there.  I obviously have no answers right now, but that is what is stirring around in my head.