Would you do a modified practice for 5 years? Petri did. In the beginning he couldn't even do a forward bend due to a surfing accident.
Still he stuck with it and not only managed to heal himself but gained valuable insights through the process
"There was a time I couldn't do practice and I think I still feel some of those injuries in my neck and the lower back. I wasn't worried. I wasn't worried - I thought okay, if I cannot do asana, I can still meditate and do pranayama and maybe even continue teaching. Because in the beginning, I couldn't do any, any asana, not even raise the arms and first vinyasa."
Softness in Times of Injury
There is a Patanjali Yoga Sutra about this. What Sharath is also saying in the conference.
"Prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam"
- Yoga Sutra 2.47
Releasing the effort, not pushing so hard.
In 2009, in Sharath's intensive and also 2010 he talk about poses what you can do extra if you have a back pain or some other poses you can.
You can do some extra work, like a therapy work taking some back bend poses from the second series and do it, do them softly.
It's not only that you keep doing the, you know, the same and same and same practice all the time but you can also find some pose which can strengthen or release some of the problems.
So it was nice that it came from him that there is option, it's not, you don't have to strictly do primary series and second series and just follow the sequence but you can also have like after the practice or after you do then the back bend, you can do some of the poses which can open or strengthen the body.
The Obstacle is the Way
2005, I had a surfing accident. I'm not a surfer but that's why maybe I had it, and it happened in Australia. It was just after the I had one week workshop in Sydney and um, ya I just smashed into this sandbar.
There was a time I couldn't do practice and I think I still feel some of those injuries in my neck and the lower back. I wasn't worried. I wasn't worried - I thought okay, if I cannot do asana, I can still meditate and do pranayama and maybe even continue teaching. Because in the beginning, I couldn't do any, any asana, not even raise the arms and first vinyasa.
I had to start with pranayama to get the energy to the body, the prana to start the healing process. And afterwards, the pranayama really helped that the body start to recover and then I could start to raise the arms and turn the head and do some very very light forward bend with the bend knees but that was the healing process.
It was about five years, five years of, of doing modified easy practice. So the pictures, what we took for the second series book in 2007, some of the poses look, look fine but in some poses, I actually wanted to use somebody else when my photographer said like "It doesn't look so good if there is somebody else doing a difficult pose. It looks like you cannot do it."
Yea, but I cannot [do it]. So I was just warming up the body for the it was the 3 part series of asana it was one of those poses because I have lots of back pain so in the book you can see it's not the best pose but ya, I did it. But it doesn't look very good. Other poses look good. I could do it quite well but the practice was hard and after five years, I could feel that the neck pain was gone and I could start to do the deep forward bend. I managed to heal it with the pranayama and asana. It's a long process.
Going Deeper Mentally and Spiritually
This is one reason I also learned that you cannot injure the student as a teacher, it can be a long process. You injure somebody, it can be five years, it can be ten years. You have to take very slowly and easy and think about what you're doing. Maybe it's also you get older, your thinking start change so the whole idea of the asana start to change. It's not so much like moving forward but it's also moving deeper mentally and spiritually. That becomes more interesting.
Petri Räisänen (born August 13, 1967) is internationally known and respected Ashtanga Yoga teacher. Petri started practicing Ashtanga Yoga in 1988 and teaching in 1990. He is a devoted student of his Guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, and was authorized to teach Astanga Yoga in 2001 by Guruji. Petri is careful to pass on his Guru's exact teachings. Learn more about Petri including his upcoming workshops retreats, and books on Ashtanga Yoga by visiting his websitewww.petriraisanen.com