A Loong Way to the Floor: and How Ashtanga Primary Series Heals

I'm Siting here, my body still in disarray, my heart back to normal but my kidneys/Appendix and other organs acting up. Feverish, still in re-balancing mode, doing only what I can (only standing yesterday and no practice today due to mild fever yesterday).

It is stories like the Daves (two bellow, one involving Paul Dallaghan) and Donald that keep me going at times like this. Thank you.

1.- Dave and Paul: Learning to Walk on Our Own

Yesterday I was reading "It's a Long Way to The Floor"  By David Byck.  Specifically a chapter called: 'I Need Help' of the time when he had been practicing Ashtanga for two years and that talks about the time David came across Paul Dallaghan (my own TT teacher in Thailand) at a workshop. He says he started the workshop by asking Paul to help him bind in Mari D.

On the first day he got help but did not bind. On the second Paul helped him again and he did bind, albeit only the right side.  On the third day he got the bind, both sides. Then he wanted more.  Now get this...

After binding he decided to re-set his goal and put a 90 day moratorium on when he should be able to bind by himself. Nice and early he got to the room the fourth (out of five) day and announced this to Paul who gave him a look which was "a cross between What is wrong with you? and I can't believe you haven't figured this out yet".

Paul said: "David, yoga is not a game or a contest. Yoga is like life. We are supposed to live in the moment [.....] not into a string of self imposed goals which mean very little at the end of the day"

Can you relate? Gee, I even had an Excel Spreadsheet!

BKS Iyengar in Marichasana D
On the fourth and fifth day David tried to catch Paul's attention when time for Mari D came. He waited, sat, waited. Nothing. No Paul. He was "busy".  David says he got angry about this and confronted Paul at the end of the workshop.

As soon as Paul saw him approach he asked: "I saw you during class today. Didn't get into it, did you?" - David replied with anger that of course he had not because he needed help.

"But I did help" said Paul..."I got you into the asana several times. I did that because I wanted you to see that it was possible. But if I continued to assist you, you would lean on me and the next instructor like a crutch and you'll never be able to do it on your own"

I went silent there. "The best way for me to help you was not to"

2.- Healing From Much Worse Than What I Am Going Through

Dave -another Dave- did not comment at the blog yesterday. He stuck to my Facebook profile. This David practiced martial arts for years and even though he is relatively new to Ashtanga he does not consider it hard per se (his words).  let me tell you what he said:

"I began Ashtanga as a means to re-strengthen my body after being unable to walk for a year and a half and eventually having hip replacement.  Ashtanga awakened an inner healing that I did not expect. My energy expanded thus evaporating the aloneness or sense of isolation of my health condition."

He continues with where the difficulty lied in for him:

"For me, the difficulty of Ashtanga was the running mind during practice and in modifying some postures due to the limited range of a prosthetic hip."

3.- Donald: 6 Ways in Which He Used Ashtanga to Travel Through Open Heart Surgery

Open Heart... Wow. He surprised the Doctors and nurses again and again. Here is his story, he guest-posted because when he e-mailed me I thought it was something that needed to be shared.  He graciously agreed.


I wish I had a guest post of a woman. of how the practice helped her heal.  Please do tell me your story if you are reading. A morning story can heal :-)

Three more herbal pills to take.  These are for energy.  Then Dr. H again. Third time is the charm!

You Can't Always Get What You Want
Paul Dallaghan's Yoga Thailand. An incredible place. 
He also has an article on Elephant today, in case you have not used your three free passes yet, it's called: The Path of the Student


  1. I blogged my journey from a 6 day a week Ashtanga practice through bi-lateral mastectomies back to the mat... I think my blog is still there but I should check. I recently, in the last week, discovered, on the mat, that I still harbor some feelings about this which I certainly need to deal with.

  2. I just saw Facing Inwards. Powerful.

    I was doing one of Shakti Gwains exercises (she is the famous author that wrote Creative Visualization in the 80?) anyway, she suggested I check with me often in the area of stomach and heart and ask what am I feeling?


    Turns out there is quite a bit of anger there too! and not the pretty kind... I am angry I was not allowed to mourn the death of my father for example for reasons beyond my control... just one of them... they came out like crazy...

    I am checking often. One time I got I was feeling 'happy'... interesting exercise for me.

    Good luck on the return if there is a return. Would love to hear from you and how you do

  3. Hey Claudia, I really hope you start to feel better soon:) I read your Blog everyday. in some ways I can relate with your feelings. Several times in my life I have had to stop practice completely because I simply could not do it. The first time was when I was receiving treatment for cancer, I was so sick and fatigued, I could barely take Child's Pose without tossing the cookies, but I knew deep down that whatever I could muster was "ok". The second time, I was having my 3rd bowel resection and if you've ever had abdominal surgery, it sucks! But very slowly I did what I could. Lastly, and most recent was an auto accident 2 yrs ago, I was rear-ended and now have 3 herniated discs in my neck and 1 in low back...oye vey! Had I not been a practitioner for so many years prior to my situations I never would have been able to recover. In between my bumps in the road I was able to regain my usual practice albeit without some inversions and backbends because of herniations. Through my journey I found the true meaning of my Yoga practice...acceptance, peace and contentment and to know that I am not this body. That being said, I do appreciate all the things however minute, that my body can do. I have never had Lyme's and I'm sorry for your pain, but know that it's all temporary. Be well.

  4. JayaKrishna, WOW.

    I need a moment here.

    That is powerful.

    It just makes me so grateful to have a comment like this where I can see the power of the practice, how you came to acceptance, peace and contentment and knowing we are not our bodies.

    That is so powerful I think I am almost in denial.

    You are right. I did by the way have my stomach cut open, had apendix removed at 10, was no fun coming back from that one. Still remember.

    I am beginning to feel better. Chinese Medicine has given me a whole new view of the world. I am reading about it, understanding how it ties in with the gunas, with yoga, how it is ALL yoga really.

    "A Balanced Body is not penetrated by disease" said the Dr. H, the Chinese Doctor. Good reminder!

    Thanks for your comment. Holding you in the light.


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