Virasana and a lesson in patience

If I haven’t mentioned this, I’m tight.

But I’m sure I’ve mentioned it.

Virasana (not me), via yogaartandscience.com

During our August retreat at Mt. Shasta, Tim Miller proscribed — among other things, and as only the latest proscriptions — Virasana to loosen my quads and, I hope, help protect my knees in Lotus and similar poses. I’ve tweaked the tendons in my right knee from “recruiting” flexibility there.

As a result, I have pretty much removed Lotus and even half-Lotus from my practice. (I might sneak into it to assist with Utpluthih.) And I can tell you, it’s a bummer.

In part, it’s a bummer because Lotus was one of the few “ooh, you can do that?” poses I could do. Of course, the pain in my knee proves I couldn’t really do it, but it was a nice stroke of the ego while it lasted.

Tim essentially told me to sit in Virasana as much as possible. I’m trying. (You might not find it a bit challenge, but imagine if, instead of being comfortable, the feeling was somewhere between pain and annoying discomfort.) I’m now sneaking it into my practice before Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana and in lieu of Garba Pindasana. And I just sat in it for a while before stretching out more comfortably in my chair, laptop in my lap.

It’s not fun. And it — perhaps more than all the other obstacles my inflexibility creates — is testing my patience. It tests it while I’m sitting in Virasana. It tests it when I can’t do the poses I used to be able to do. It is, I suppose, the most “in my face” reminder of the long path that lies before me.

David Swenson, in one of this “Thoughts” at his web page, addresses a question about being tight this way:

This yoga seeks balance. It will quickly alert the practitioner to areas of strength and weakness as well as areas of flexibility and tightness. This is normal. Over time the practice will begin to create a balance between strength and flexibility. Be patient and let the practice do its work over a long period of time. If you wish to sit in Virasana to open the hips and knees, that can be effective. Just don’t hurry the process of opening the body and lengthening the muscles because hurrying can translate into injury.

Unknowingly, I clearly was hurrying the process and risking injury. (I think I stayed just this side of it, but what seems like tendonitis persists.) And now, I’m faced with the test of patience that Ashtanga offers us all, in different ways. (Why couldn’t mine have been somewhere in the Second Series?)

Posted by Steve