Stiff yoga guide bonus: The wrong things I’m not doing right

Sunday came and that meant Bobbie and I had the chance to practice together in our little home shala.

Helpful reminder: Don’t practice with the person teaching you, especially if you’re the only other one there. That teacher likely will find the little things you aren’t doing right.

In this case, it is the wrong things that I’m not doing right. Can you do things you aren’t supposed to be doing incorrectly? The answer: Yes.

Here’s a probably incomplete list:

* I wrote about bring my arms up in Sun Salutes a little forward of my body. “Incorrect,” Bobbie told me, and showed me. “See how together the shoulder blades get?” I saw. So arms essentially in a straight line when bringing them above your head — including in Warrior.

* I’m having a tough time with keeping  the pads of my hands stuck to the ground in Down Dog.

* Do I even have to say my breath and bandhas could use some additional work?

* Here’s one to think about: In Utthita Hasta, she suggested for the final part of the pose, when you are extending your pointed foot, to have my dristi be where I want my foot eventually to be. Looking down at the sad, so near the ground foot, may be pitching me forward a bit. That was the first time I’d heard that. It seemed to work on the second “easy” side.

* Finally, less a doing it wrong that trying to show me what doing it right is: Bobbie, in Janu A, anchored my folded leg and really twisted my from the upper torso. “It’s a stretch here,” she said, patting the right side of my ribcage during the first “harder” side. And then we repeated on the left. I think, perhaps, you twist in this one where you breath in them all?

Now, a brief look back: On the Surya Namaskara B post (link above on “wrong”), a commenter, Michelle, raised another possible avenue to investigate: for stiffness relief Ayurveda. My initial reaction (since I’m feeling all petulant from the pain of stretching) is: Wasn’t the Rolfing enough?

My slightly less petulant reaction is: I’ll admit to being not sold on Ayurveda as being that … how to say it … effective as a cure. I think it is OK at maintenance, as part of a healthy lifestyle, but I’m not sure it is as efficacious for treatment.

But I don’t know that much. This is my experience of seeing people who follow Ayurvedic practices. And I know our raw diet is totally not Ayurvedically approved. So I feel like I’m starting from a difficult point if I were to tread that road.

But if anyone has a more informed opinion, I’m listening.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

12 thoughts on “Stiff yoga guide bonus: The wrong things I’m not doing right”

  1. I wasn’t a believer in Ayurveda either at first. I thought Ashtanga alone would be sufficient to “cure” my ills. It did help to some degree – but after 10 years of practice, I was basically stagnant and not progressing. I also had muscular stiffness, plus some longstanding autoimmune issues (chronic allergies, Reynauds syndrome/poor circulation) and hypoglycemia, too. Vata imbalance.

    I credit daily dinacharya plus following basic Ayurvedic eating guidelines (it’s the original “eat whole, local and seasonal” food movement) with resolving these issues. I no longer have any of them. However it wasn’t a quick fix – it took about 4 years of effort and diligence.

    My suggestion is to talk to a qualified Ayurvedic Consultant who practices Ashtanga, too. Anyone who’s studied with Dr. Vasant Lad would be a good choice.

    And, finally, just do a search on “Ayurvedic symptoms of raw food diet” and you’ll see a lot of references to “stiffness” – a vata imbalance. 🙂

    What do you have to lose?!

    1. What I have to lose? Most of my material for the blog. 🙂

      I’ll look — but the stiffness did precede the raw diet. I suppose someone might say it is now acting against all my efforts.

      Also: Four years? We all need to find something with more immediate gratification, right?!


      1. LOL. I know how hard it is to come up with compelling blog posts, so I don’t want to take that away from you, Steve!

        In all seriousness, I am not an Ayurvedic expert, but, I have been following the guidelines for some years now, with wise direction from experts, and it’s really helped. Few health issues plague me now (just hereditary borderline hypertension.) More immediately, practice is pain free and no longer feels “stiff”, even on cold mornings. 🙂

        Yoga practice is not really meant for the body ultimately — asana is just the tip of the iceberg of the philosophy of the eight limbs, right? Ayurveda is its sister science, specifically designed for the balancing and optimal health of the body; the two go hand in hand.

        (One thing re: preconditions – I remember Nancy Gilgoff saying years ago that most Westerners are Vata imbalanced already, primarily because of our environment/lifestyle.)

        Therefore, get thee some ghee!

    2. To Michelle~ I had all of your symptoms, & more, and began studying and practicing Ayurveda as part of my Yoga Holistic Health training. Some changes occurred very quickly & others have been a progression, but I am symptom free & enjoy a vigorous daily practice as well as other athletic endeavors at the age of 55.
      To Steve~ As always, I appreciate you sharing your challenges & progress. I applaud you for keeping at it, keeping an open mind, and a great sense of humor!
      Namaste’ =D

      1. That’s great, Ananda – you inspire me and thanks for attesting to the benefits of Ayurveda, too! I’m not much younger than you (now 47) but, I too feel more fit and healthy – and alive – than I did when I started my practice at 31.

  2. I can attest to the benefits of ayurveda, but haven’t been an ashtanga practioner long enough to speak to that. Anything chronic generally means imbalance that is long standing, takes longer to heal. I’ve had a number of circulatory, digestive, energetic issues that were resolved thru ayurveda, and acupuncture. But you’re right, the raw thing will likely be the first to go. Vata imbalance requires some cooked veges, alas..

  3. I’ve heard rumors that Jois Yoga in Greenwich, CT is closing as is the studio in Encinitas. Anyone know anything about whether the rumors are true? If they are, any insight as to why they’re closing?

    1. Other than the Internet searches about it that I see bringing people to this blog (maybe including you?), I haven’t seen anything. I looked around a little trying to figure out that search. You can figure we’ll pass anything on we hear.


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