Yoga enlightens me (or not) with dreams

I was at a spaghetti western yoga retreat in a courtyard of one of those beautiful Spanish style villas. With a pre Dirty Harry Clint Eastwood. There we were, Clint Eastwood and me and a bunch of other people, in this lovely courtyard, doing sun salutations, and it was so nice, the light of the sun a lovely soft yellow, the birds tweeting softly, the flowers blooming softly in the quiet and lemony pastel sunlight. I was having a question about technique when I began to wake up and as I woke up I looked around at the still vivid scene, becoming consciously aware of it, believing I was there, and thought, “Wow! It never occurred to me in a millions years that I’d ever go to and like a yoga retreat and it certainly never occurred to me in a thousand billion years that I’d be at a yoga retreat with Clint Eastwood in a beautiful Spanish courtyard! Yoga really will take you some great, unexpected places!” A nano second later, realizing this was but a dream, my not very awake mind that was still soaked through with the radiance of it all took a long look at the scene and believed it held great education, and that mind thought, “Yes, certainly the answer to my wrist problem is here if I pay full attention to what I now see in this dream.”

Then there I was on the bed, the dream receding, left with my wrists that began to annoy me Saturday.

I thought I was holding my hands just perfect the past seven weeks, the creases of my wrists perfectly parallel to the front of the mat and my fingers aligned just so and my knuckles digging in and the finger pads clawing the mat just as I thought was supposed to be done. The heels of my hands had begun to hurt (not while I was doing the yoga, but would hurt later) and I felt they were taking too much weight but I was clueless for I thought I was holding my hands properly and I was having no problem with my wrists, just the heels of my hands where that outer bone is were becoming painful. There was no pain at all during the yoga, no pain at all with weight bearing or wrist extension or flexing. None! Zero! Zip!!

Then Thursday through Saturday I did lots of simple data entry on the computer. Hours and hours and hours of it. Which has never been a problem in the past as I’ve always been good at protecting my wrists. I’ve spent years typing fiction and sometimes doing data entry and whenever I’ve had a hint of a problem I’ve backed off and been fine the next day. So careful I’ve been…but data entry is a different thing from typing fiction. Typing fiction you’ve plenty of time to sit and ponder what to write next. With data entry there’s more risk.

I had not done simple data entry since beginning the yoga.

I also, on Saturday, did a very different routine that at the end turned out to have some arm balancing postures that I shouldn’t have attempted but I figured there was no harm in attempting. Such as the Crane pose. I have to say though that I backed off promptly. There was no wrist pain (was still not having the wrist pain yet) but I realized this was something I shouldn’t have tried for a while yet and went on to something else.

But Sunday wham there I was with painful wrists that yelled when I tried to extend them. Plus, I still had the CRUD which took us down toward the week’s end and any pain was augmented by it.

What happened I think is I have been holding the hands, if mindfully, incorrectly, despite my best efforts, too much weight on the heel, and the data entry brought the problem fully to the fore.

I did some research and find that one is supposed to cup one’s palms so that the hollow is off the floor with a little space between the heel and the mound of the hand, which I haven’t been doing, I’ve been flattening the whole hand to the ground while trying to dig in the finger knuckles and keep the index finger flat. Plus I read that practicing on a mat on a rug can be a problem, causing the heels of the hands to sink and bear more pressure. We have thin rugs on the floor and I thought a thin rug under a mat would be all right. Perhaps not. From now on I’ll be rolling back the rug and using the mat directly on the wood floor, which I should have been doing anyway. Or I’m going to take my yoga practice to the front nook, with all the plants, where there is only a small rug under a chair to fold back.

A problem could also be that I’m double jointed so that my fingers and wrists can have a tendency to really hyper extend. And I mean really hyper extend. Which means I guess it’s really bad for me to have the rug under the mat. Like I said, it’s a thin rug but it does compress some with pressure.

So until the wrists feel better (hopefully this won’t take long as I didn’t experience any pain in the wrists until the past couple of days) I’m going to give the sun salutations a rest and work on some other postures then reintroduce the weight bearing gradually, working my hands a bit differently according to the above, and also do some supplemental wrist and forearm strengtheners. For now I may also pick up a wedge on which to rest my hands while I build up more forearm strength, if that is part of the problem, that I don’t yet quite have some of the needed muscle.

Man, and I so like Downward Dog and Plank position! I hated them at first. Now I love them. They’re two of my favorite postures.

Time to cultivate some real love and appreciation of other postures.

P.S. Found this tonight on the wrists.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

4 thoughts on “Yoga enlightens me (or not) with dreams”

  1. Your dream is funny! Sorry about the wrist problems, though. There is a way to modify the down-face dog so that it’s less likely to aggravate wrist problems. Normally you place your hands flat on the floor, which does put a lot of pressure on wrists, especially if that’s an area of vulnerability. If you would like to try a modification of this what you would need to do is close your hands, so they are in a fist, and place your fists on the floor so that your fists bear the weight with your wrists straight. I hope this makes sense. If not then we probably just need to get together again so I can show you! Anyway, hope your wrists feel better soon. FWIW, quite a few people have wrist issues so there are ways to modify several poses with that in mind.

  2. Your dream was funny! I can’t help, but wonder if you were dreaming of spaghetti westerns since your yoga is making you feel like twisted spaghetti… although then why not just dream of pasta. Maybe you’re feeling like your poses represent the good, the bad and the ugly since you’re still working on them. 🙂

    I love downward dog as well. It never lets me down, even if I start to question. I’ll have to try to fist modification. My wrists and thumb joints can give me trouble as well.

  3. Nina, I know what you’re talking about with the fists. I’d chosen a podcast to do yesterday that I thought didn’t have Down Dog or Plank, but of course it eventually appeared and I tried the fists. It felt awkward and nonfluid but I suppose one can adapt to it. I went ahead and did Dolphin (not my best pose) instead of Down Dog.

    I wasn’t feeling too dispirited about this yesterday, was able to be all philosophical about it and thinking I needed to try some new things, but today I’m feeling like damn damn even though the wrists are feeling much better already.

    Jennifer, I’ll start doing my yoga to Sergio Morricone.

  4. I also thought later about the plank pose. The way to modify that is to place your forearms along the floor so that your forearms bear the weight instead of your hands and wrists. Everything else about the pose would be the same, except that you won’t be as high off the ground. And it probably will feel a little awkward and less fluid but it does relieve the wrists.

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