I’ll start by stating the obvious: It’s been more than 10 days since my original post. 72 days to be exact, which makes this follow up post about 61 days late. Forgive me.
Here’s what happened. During the first 4 days of my 10 Days To Hanumanasana experiment, I practiced my sequence religiously, for more than the 30 minutes per day that I suggested I would.
Then came Day 5. My left hamstring had tightened so much that not only had I lost all progress, I had regressed to the point that I was not even able to get as low as I could in the first picture I took on August 10th. The back of my back left leg felt like a rock, it wasn’t painful, just uncomfortable. 2 days later, the same tightness set in on my right hamstring, although not as severely. The tightness didn’t subside for about two weeks which forced me to stop working on my Hanumanasana challenge. Disappointed and not understanding how stretching could lead to pulled or tight muscle I turned to Google, where I found an interesting article about Neurological Tightness which is what I believed I experienced.
What happened, according to the article, is that as a result of “over-stretching” my muscles, my brain sent a “protective” signal to my hamstring to tell it to contract. And contract they did. It wasn’t a muscle injury, but there was little I could do to relieve the tightness other than wait it out.
So life and yoga went on. I continued my home practice, which is mostly practicing and working through sequences I write for the classes I teach which includes a lot of crescent lunge, pigeon with variation, mermaid, malasana, standing splits, backbends, chest openers, wheel and rockstar.
Today was the first time I tried full split since August and I was pleasantly surprised with where I was able to get with it. In August, I was able to slide a block under my front leg and rest my leg on it, today a block wouldn’t fit under my front leg so while I’m not there quite yet, I’ve made great progress. Mind you, it’s not by following my own proposed sequence 30 minutes a day for 10 days that got me here, but by following a more well rounded practice that opens the both the front of the hips, the hamstrings, and also I think the backbends have been a huge benefit to getting deeper into this posture.
I’m not giving up on Hanumanasana – and plan to post a third follow-up when I one day get there. The biggest lesson in this for me, is that over-stretching and aggressive goals may not be the best thing for your practice (or your blog posts). And I’m guilty on all three counts.
I’m so grateful that what I experienced was not an injury, but re-iterates the importance to warm up properly, maintain a balanced practice, practice gratitude for where you’ve come with your yoga, and have patience for the journey ahead of you and most importantly to be firmly rooted in gratitude for where you are right now.