Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Knee injury and Vinyasa Krama

I wrote this draft two weeks ago but forgot to post it. (Where it says a month ago read six weeks).

About a month ago I injured my knee and posted about it here. Nothing too serious, just an old injury from twenty odd years ago that plays up in the cold sometimes. I'd ignored the signs and walked around London all day. The following morning I could hardly stand.

My Practice, what about my Practice.
I couldn't really bend my knee so that was most of Primary out of the window and half of Intermediate. If this had happened last winter I would have been devastated, I hadn't come to Ashtanga from another style of yoga, Ashtanga was all I knew, as it was I was still thinking, 'What if this is it and I can't practice Ashtanga anymore'.

Luckily this year I'd come across Ramaswami's Vinyasa flexible Krama. Flexibility is it's middle name. OK, I made that bit up, but it should be it's middle name. Hell of a lot of asana variations in Vinyasa Krama, the system is designed to be adapted to the needs of the yoga practitioner.

So I took it easy for a couple of weeks adapting my practice, then added a few modified Intermediates, dropping asana that affected the knee and adding a couple of others from VK.

With more thought I could probably have added asana that work similar areas of the body as the ones I was cutting. As it was I kept it simple and took the opportunity to add asana from Vinyasa Krama routines that are less well represented in the Ashtnaga series. Parsva Bhangi (side poses) for example. Also Purva Tanasana (anterior stretch poses) In Primary we just get Pursvottanassana. From Vinyasa Krama's Supine sequence I added Apanasana (Pelvic floor poses) and some light Dwipadapitam (desk poses) which were easy on my knee, as were a lot of the shoulder stand series from Supine. I added these to finishing, to take up the slack from dropping Urdhava Padmasana, Pindasana and Matsyasana as well as Baddha Padmasana, Yoga Mudra and Utpluthi. When practicing Intermediate I added most of VK's Bow routine and went backbend crazy followed by long Paschimottanasanas with the different VK hand/arm variations. To Sirsasana I added a lot of the VK Inverted subroutines, there are some asanas that work on the knee but being upside down you can approach them much more lightly.

Best of all I felt I had Vinyasa Krama to fall back on. If I couldn't do Ashtanga anymore I could always practice Vinyasa Krama and that would be just fine, more than fine. What wicked wit and gifts had had the power to seduced me back to Ashtanga anyhow?

Vinyasa Krama doesn't have Jump backs and Jump through, other than at the very beginning and end of a sequence. Not being able to transition became less of a drama than it might have done a year ago. I used the extra time to really slow the breathing down and stay longer in an asana as well as repeating. Can't do Marichiyasana B and D that's OK repeat A and C, Can't do Karandavasana (misery) then do Pincha twice and stay up there longer, breathing more slowly.

Last week I was pretty much back to Full Intermediate bar a couple of obvious knee centric asana. With the extra time that gave me in the morning I worked a little more on Kapo and Dropping back. This morning my knee felt fine enough for a loose, full lotus and even Utpluthi, the only Asana I missed out was the left side of Vatayanasana.

UPDATE : My knee is just about back to normal, copes fine with Full Vinyasa Primary and Intermediate. I'm back doing Vatayanasana on both sides, Garbha Pindasa and with a lotus tight enough again to jump back from Supta Vajrasana. The only thing I find is that for longer periods of Meditation and Pranayama I find it best to sit in half rather than full lotus, at least until the weather warms up.