"be bold the mighty forces will come to your aid"
We all have a part in this Divine play. In developing this web site my intention is to share what has come to me over the last 40+ years of practice and study. My intention is to share information and experiences that will help practitioners and teachers along their path. Paramahansa Yogananda did not give karma so much authority that it could not be changed or elevated. Just by reading this information, I hope the potential karma of future injury or ill health will transmute into perfection, although minimizing or lessening those possibilities will suffice.
In 1979, sitting with Professor Krishna Pattabhi Jois, affectionately known as Guru Ji, I received a profound picture of what this time of my life would look like. He gave me the name Shyama, another name for Krishna, because I was born on the full moon of August/September, considered by some as Krishna’s birthday. Guru Ji is well known for being the Ashtanga Yoga series originator; in addition he is a professor of Sanskrit, a therapist, priest, astrologer and palm reader. The name Jois comes from the Sanskrit word for astrologer. On this day he read my palm and told me, “after 55, only for meditating in the jungle, you.” Although not completely literal, he saw a profound change that would take place in my life.
Over the years I have heard some disparaging stories about Ashtanga yoga because of the intensity of the practice and the many stories of injuries. Part of the problem is that people with gifted bodies become teachers very quickly, not necessarily acquiring the intrinsic knowledge that is essential in a truly qualified teacher. It is easy to miss the forest for the trees as the body becomes impressively developed. Physically gifted neophytes are often more vulnerable to the ego running the program, whereas older, more experienced teachers have been humbled by time and practice.
Those of us who love our physical yoga practice and that have been practicing for a long time have probably experienced some kind of discomfort or difficulty in the practice. This can be a low-level pain, a painful injury, an inability to physically comprehend an asana or a major setback in an asana that you could once do proficiently. The injury or setback could have come from poor technique but often is from functional problems with the structure of the body. Many of us have utilized chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, osteopathy or other healing modalities to remedy these situations.
Often times when talking to ashtangis (A)that have been practicing for twenty years or less, they talk about how the series is done; this is the way you do the vinyasa for this particular asana, this asana comes before that one, nauli is never done during the asana practice, pranayama is done so many hours after or before asana practice and so on.
Some of the most common conditions causing back pain are:
Subluxation, where the vertebra is out of place or fixated, stuck in a position (possibly out of place).
Muscular spasms, trigger points, fascial adhesions and a whole assortment of spinal muscle conditions that contribute to back pain. It is helpful to recognize that many of these muscles are on the anterior of the spine or in the pelvic region as well.
I am always surprised when a client tells me that they hydrate after strenuous exercise or work, by drinking water only. We lose much more than water when we sweat. Ashtanga and other hot yoga systems are dangerous without effective hydrating which cannot be achieved without mineralizing.
Ashtanga toe is the peeling back of the skin on the big toe that can happen from the vinyasa known as jumping back. When the force and friction from landing in chataranga dandasana repeatedly or just from propelling yourself forward while walking barefoot peels the skin off the big toe, it is usually an imbalance in the body’s pH. When the body gets too acidic, skin can become weakened and tear easier than when the body is in a more alkaline state. In fact all soft tissue which includes blood, bone, tendon, ligament, muscle-skin and viscera can become weakened. If it is bone it is called osteoporosis, if it is skin, sagging and wrinkles occur or Ashtanga toe. If it is ligament or tendon, joints can become unstable. If it is your intestine, you could get leaky gut, diverticulitis, colitis, or Crohns disease. This is much more dangerous than Ashtanga toe as it severely compromises digestion, elimination and absorption of nutrients, causing moderate to severe health problems. An important correlation to remember is that the outside of the body is a reflection of the inside.