Saturday, July 08, 2006


Today's Vocabulary Words:

Pure Veg = no-egg vegetarian

Mutton = goat or sheep meat

For breakfast my stepmother used to make the bacon first and then fry the eggs in the leftover grease -- which made for tough, chewy eggs with chalky yellow centers. Some people like this. I found it to be the most vile concoction ever created -- worse than baked halibut -- and every time she made them they'd get stuck in my gullet and I'd throw them up right there at the table, in front of everyone. Yet they still made me eat them (well, at least I wasn't forced to eat my own vomit). One morning after one of these fried egg ordeals, wanting to mend fences, I asked my stepmother what we would be having for breakfast the next day.

"We're going to try fried eggs again," she said, teeth flashing. She was the type of woman who used a cattle prod to discipline her children.

Every time it comes to standing up from backbends, I feel the same inward cringe I used to get on those fried egg mornings. My victory Wednesday -- when my back hurt and Sharath had me skip dropbacks -- was a pyrrhic one. The next day I had a great spot in front of the stage. Janice and Stephen were on either side of me, and KenTheRolfer was in the spot behind me. Just as I finished my third backbend, Sharath stood in front of me -- so there was no chance of my pushing up too hard and tripping over the elevated stage a few inches in front of my mat. Everything was in place so that I could come up from backbend -- good vibes from people I know, Sharath's magnetic self in front of me -- and yet it was like my body was made of lead. I simply could not do it. The first couple of times my hands barely left the floor. The third time I got some air but lost the nerve to go up all the way. Sharath finally helped me stand up and then immediately had me do half-dropbacks.

Another failure.

Or was it?

After talking with some long-time students / teachers about their back problems and Sharath's own disc problems and those of other senior teachers** (apparently Peter Sanson has been told he needs surgery), maybe I'm better off giving it up.

There's such a fine line between slacking off and doing the right thing...

Although they also said that if I tucked in my tailbone and worked the bandhas (energy locks) and abs very hard, I could come up safely.

And KenTheRolfer has said I should add nauli*** (an abdominal exercise that recalls the workings of a washing machine) to my at-home practice in order to strengthen the abs and protect my lower back.

If nothing else I'll come home with abs of ghee.


*Guruji once said at a conference that "Yeggs" are bad. Like all observant Brahmins he avoids eating eggs, which are not "pure veg." They also avoid non-sattvic foods such as onions and garlic. Many western yogis have also adopted the sattvic diet. I think I may have had some bad yeggs at the Southern Star this morning.

**Senior teachers Tim Miller and Chuck Miller have also suffered acute back problems. So has Graeme Northfield, although I'm not sure if his came before or after The Ashtanga.

***Guruji has also said, repeatedly, that ladies should not take nauli (apparently it's not good for making babies). Oops.


  1. G Northfield has a form of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis so his bad back is not a by-product of bending and I've heard, anecdotally that astanga has really helped heal him., My boyf (sic!) has it too - its a calcification of the spine...

    I haven't attempted to stand up from drop backs since I wobbled up at hamish's the other day....

    take care
    Dr D xx

  2. Funny that your yoga master won't eat a common egg, but will accept rides on Paul Tudor's private jet.
    More than funny, hysterical.

    Now, back to your problem with this
    back breaking yoga nonsense, stop it before you really screw something up.
    Your realisation that you can't do it, after god knows how many years of repeated torture, is enough.