Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Glute/IT band tightness, groin tightness, To Rome with Love

Yesterday was a very busy and hectic day. I had to go out of town for work-related reasons. This entailed driving for more than two hours, sitting in a conference room for almost two hours having an intense but ultimately stimulating (but still intense nonetheless) conversation with a few individuals whom I have never met before, and then getting back on the road and driving for another three hours. All in all, this adds up to about seven hours spent sitting. When I finally got home in the early evening, I decided to allow myself to go to a late evening movie (I went to see Woody Allen's To Rome with Love; more on this later), and to sleep in and get up later in the morning and just do full primary: I figured that since I didn't take a rest day this past week (I spent Sunday, my usual rest day, kicking my own ass in a super-speedy primary-plus-one-third-second practice; for more details, see previous post), I should at least be entitled to have one shorter practice this week, right? :-)

The effects of all that sitting yesterday certainly made itself felt during this morning's practice. For starters, I have noticed that whenever I have been sitting a lot the previous day (especially long-distance driving), I tend to experience some tightness in either the glutes and/or the IT band. I'm not entirely sure which one it is: Maybe it's both. Anyway, here's what happened during this morning's practice: My glutes/IT band/whatever were so tight that I lost my balance and fell over while trying to get into the twist into Parsvakonasana B (a.k.a. Parivrtta Parsvakonasana). And then, in Marichyasana D on the first side (the one with the left leg in half-lotus), I also almost lost balance and rolled over while trying to bind, but managed to somehow right myself at the last second. Can you imagine what a sight it would be to lose balance and roll over in Marichyasana D? My self-diagnosis is that there is some kind of tightness in either the glutes or the IT band, or both. But the glutes seem an unlikely candidate: For one thing, I didn't have any trouble getting into padmasana. Do any of you out there have any ideas as to what might be causing this, and what to do to address it?

There was also some tightness in the groin area. The interesting thing with this groin tightness is that I didn't feel it until I got to Bhujapidasana: Just as I was jumping my feet over my arms to get into Bhuja, I felt this tight pulling sensation in the groin area. For the rest of the practice, whenever I had to do anything that involves flexing the hips with straight legs (for example, Chakrasana), I would feel this tight pulling sensation in the groin area. Hmm... I hope I didn't pull a muscle there. Again, any of you out there have any ideas as to what might be causing this, and how to address it?

If any of you out there have any suggestions/tips, I would love to hear them. Many thanks to you in advance.


In the meantime, I'm going to change the topic drastically. As I mentioned earlier, I went to see To Rome With Love last night. I absolutely loved it. Here's the trailer for the movie, if you haven't already seen it:

If you read movie reviews online, you will probably know that the reviews for this movie have been mixed thus far. Some people think that this is one of Allen's better works, while others think that he is basically just getting a whole bunch of big stars together and rehashing many of the themes that he had already explored in previous movies. My very honest response to these critics is: Whatever. I think they are kind of missing the point of what Allen is doing. To me, the entire movie was a celebration of life, gushing with the love of the Eternal City, of humanity, and of life in general. And also, this being the first Woody Allen movie that Allen himself is actually acting in since 2006's Scoop, the viewer is treated to more than a fair share of Allen's classic style of humor. A few themes that are typical of Allen's movies also play themselves out in this movie:

(1) Sometimes, it is better to be deluded/wrong and happy than to be right and very unhappy: This is a common theme in many of Allen's movies. It is all too human to want to tell ourselves stories which makes ourselves feel good. But really, what's wrong with this, if it gets you out of bed in the morning, and helps you to do what needs to be done to live the life that you want? In To Rome With Love, Allen himself plays Jerry, a reluctantly-retired opera director ("retirement is death", Jerry says in one scene) who feels that he has passed his entire career without having achieved anything truly great; he feels that the greatest work of his life is still waiting to be accomplished. While in Rome on vacation with his wife to visit their daughter who is engaged to an Italian lawyer, he discovers that his future son-in-law's father, Giancarlo (played by famous Italian tenor Fabio Armiliato) actually has a beautiful singing voice. Unfortunately, Giancarlo, who works as an undertaker, is only able to sing beautifully in the shower! When he tries to sing in a "normal" stage setting, he gets all nervous and loses his voice. So Jerry comes up with a ingenious plan to help Giancarlo get around this problem: He arranges for Giancarlo to sing live on stage in a shower stall built specially for him, complete with running water and soap! Giancarlo sings beautifully at La Scala (in a shower on stage, no less!) and becomes an operatic sensation, and Jerry thinks that he has finally achieved the great success he has been craving as an opera director. In truth, the critics love Giancarlo's singing, but thinks that whoever came up with the idea of putting him in a shower stall on stage is an imbecile who deserves to be dragged outside and beheaded! However, Jerry, not knowing any Italian, is blissfully unaware of their unflattering reviews of him, and thinks that the critics love him just as much as they love Giancarlo.

The general message here, of course, is that sometimes, it really doesn't matter if you are deluded, so long as you are happy: Ignorance, as they say, is bliss, at least some of the time. I also really love the fact that Allen is perfectly willing to cast himself in such a role and to laugh at himself in this way.

(2) We are almost never fully present in our present circumstances: This is another recurring theme in Allen's movies, and it comes up a lot in this movie as well. There is Jack (Jesse Eisenberg), who is living more or less happily in Rome with his girlfriend Sally (Greta Gerwig). Along comes Sally's best friend, Monica (Ellen Page), for a visit. Monica is a struggling Hollywood actress who kind of jumps from one relationship to another. Jack meets Monica, sparks fly, and Jack starts thinking frantically about how to get out of his present relationship with Sally (which suddenly seems sorely lacking in passion) in order to be with Monica. Sound familiar? :-)

(3) Life is short. Seize the moment, be daring and take a few chances: As cliched as this sounds, this is actually a recurring theme in Allen's movies, and it again plays itself out in many places in this latest movie. I won't bore you here with a recounting of the many instances in which this theme is played out, as this post is already too long, as it is. If you want to know, see the movie!           


  1. Hey, I find your review as yogi insightful as mine... Did not even know you had 3 things too, sorry! I guess like-minds think alike... Funny how we did a review at around the same time... and I knew you were doing it too, just refused to read yours before I did mine. Glad we agree! Love the movie.

    1. Yes, I also think that great minds think alike (then again, fools also seldom differ... :-)). I think it is great that you did not read my review before you wrote yours; this way, your insight is uniquely yours.

      Btw, I think you may have brought this up in your review as well, but I was also going to write about how Allen is in many ways an Ashtangi who doesn't practice asana. He works regularly and very productively: He has made at least one movie a year for more than forty years. And he never allows what other people think of him or his work to stop him. He just does what he wants, and then moves on. Sounds very much like the practice, doesn't it?

  2. As for the pain, for both a tight groin and quads I really like to take reclining Hero pose for several, or maybe even five, minutes. Also, what in Yin Yoga would be called Half Saddle, which is basically just reclined Hero with one leg at a time (we might call it Eka Pada Supta Virasana? Just a guess). I've had a lot of IT band struggles in the past from running as I'm one of those fools who refuses to quit running despite my Ashtanga practice and I also sit in a desk all day. My IT band would always act up after long periods of sitting, as in I would feel fine, would sit down for several hour stretches, then could barely stand up forth tightness and pain. What seemed to help me was doing an old school runner's stretch, which is just Uttanasana but with one foot crossed behind the other, holding each side for a couple minutes and doing this a few times a day.