Vairagya Sucks

After a few beautiful practices this week, my knee was worse yesterday and even Janu Sirsasana, a pose that has always been delicious and so much like coming home, was difficult, so I modified my practice to skip anything with lotus or half lotus.  I hate modifying.  I hate skipping due to injury.

Vairagya sucks.

I was all over the internet last night looking up knee injuries and ashtanga.  I don’t know if I’ve torn the medial colateral ligament or the meniscus or both, but I suspect that since it only really hurts when I do lotus that a doctor will laugh at me.  It seems reasonable to me that since it only hurts when I do lotus (unless I keep pushing too hard and then even janu is painful) that I haven’t actually torn the meniscus or anything that requires surgery.  All of the websites and books indicate that the inner knee  is not well vascularized and so healing is slow.

Reading people’s stories on the internet, a lot of people blame ashtanga for their injuries.  David Swenson talked a lot about how ashtanga is a tool, and you can wield it like a weapon to hurt yourself or it can be a fabulous tool to fashion a life that is more in tune with spirit, closer to the bone.

I am up against myself, looking in the mirror at the unpleasant aspects of my grasping, desperate self and I want more than anything to run away but that’s not going to fix it.  A closer look at the addictive part of my personality is not so pretty, not so uplifting.  Must have chocolate!  More coffee!  Lotus or nothing!

I have found the tool, I have found my practice, and here is a dark night of the soul.  It’s like that children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury:

“We can’t go over it.  We can’t go under it. Oh no!  We have to go through it!”

Vairagya.  Instead of constantly grasping for the pose that I can’t do yet, I need to appreciate the poses that I can do.  Finally it was Sarah Dee’s post on Marichyasana C that woke me up.  Marichyasana C is still possible.  Instead of worrying about B&D with their half lotus position, I can modify those and enjoy C.  Looking at the long view, I want to be doing this practice 10 years from now, 20 years from now.  What will it be like then?

I’ll close this post on a note from “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” by BKS Iyengar.  The sutras that deal with abhyasa and vairagya go from 1:12 – 1:15.  In the commentary on 1:15, Iyengar writes:

“A bird cannot fly with one wing.  It needs two wings to fly.  To reach the highest spiritual goal, the two wings of yoga, abhyasa and vairagya are essential.”

I have been ignoring detachment mostly and attempting to compensate by focusing intensely on practice.  It is no wonder an injury is the result.  Come back to center and learn to fly with two wings.  I know this.  I know this!!  Now I need to do this.


3 thoughts on “Vairagya Sucks

  1. I imagine that lotus is putting strain on your knee because your hips might be tight. If you cannot rotate your thighs outwards it will put strain on your knee. I would stay away from it until you knee is feeling better and then maybe spend some time on stretching your hips-maybe as a warm up before you start your sequence. Just a thought. I don’t do lotus that often but I do have problems with it sometimes because my hips are so tight. I will sometimes sit in dandasana and cross one leg into half lotus, then lie back (when the time is right).

  2. hey Jen (Jen?)- your logic is sound, but my hips are pretty open and I could do most of the 1/2 lotus forward folds and twists before I hurt my knee. A good friend recommended acupuncture, which I may try. It is better when I get thoroughly warm up in a heated room, so perhaps a space heater is the way to go. Hmmm… Now that is interesting, as I’ve been doing 5 sun salutation A and only 3 B in the mornings to save time, but if you do 5 and 5 you do get really warm, so 5 and 5 with a space heater might help quite a bit. Thanks!

  3. It’s me! Acupuncture can be really helpful. Especially for areas that don’t get a lot of blood flow. A friend of mine combines it with e-stim and it can really make a big difference. Those small, soft tissue injuries are impossible to get treated by the doctor.

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