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It’s tough to maintain an equal passion for multiple interests. Running and yoga are two in my life and it is a rare day that I feel equally fulfilled in both. The scales are tipped in favour of yoga again as I take baby steps into shoulder stands and head stands. The excitement of being inverted and learning to get into those asanas is keeping my mind busy.

Cervical Spondylosis meant a different practice until recently. I couldn’t do any  unsupported shoulder stands and headstands. Asana practice helped in healing a chronic pain, something that medicine couldn’t do. It wasn’t easy and the early weeks were painful as I practised the few stretches for the neck and shoulders. Rope tractions in class would be agonising while in the pose but give relief soon after. I would do one or two stretches that the teacher suggested and it was not long before I started to practise at home. The debilitating pain was no longer a daily drag and I haven’t used my neck collar for more than half a year. In fact, I threw it away recently. These days I see how the basic standing poses work for the neck and shoulders. In fact, I am fascinated with tadasana, the first pose but those musings are for another blog space.

Friends and family were aghast when I started running. Cervical spondylosis and running don’t go together. “You will damage your neck further”, they said. I never found anyone with the same problem and part of the reason for maintaining this blog was to share my experience, in the hope that it might help someone.

Sure enough, I had many off days and weeks because of flare-ups but sticking to running was the best thing I did. It brought me to yoga and to healing, renewing a sense of life and vitality. I had settled into a slow fading out, resigned to a life of increasing pain and reduced movement. Not any longer. I may not have been cured but am mostly pain free and my quality of life has improved tremendously.

As long as I maintain a regular asana practice, I am in balance, physically and mentally. I believe it has made me more disciplined about running as well. It has taught me to listen to my body and adjust accordingly. Rest days and breaks used to be cause for anxiety and stress that I would lose my running capability and I frequently had the monkey mind. Now, I know that there might be a lag but it is a short one that gets covered in a few days.

My runs have been things I have been ticking off. There is a slacking of interest though, despite some good ones and a busted one. But that’s also part of the learning. If running is the focus, there are a lot of preparatory things that need to be in place. I don’t do too well if I haven’t rested well the night before, eaten different and done a different set of asanas.

Ayurveda talks of ritucharya and dinacharya, a seasonal and daily routine, to maintain health. The transition period is usually the one that I have trouble with and it takes a little while to get my rhythm in sync with the changes. It is only after learning about these principles that I have been able to observe and notice how they affect me and the family. As long as I don’t violate the rules of the season, there is harmony. In opposition, the first to protest is the body and its not too long before the mind follows. It would be interesting to go to school and learn the art and science of traditional medicine. Some day…