John Campbell's Brilliance

I finally had a chance to talk to John -my Ashtanga yoga teacher in NYC- as you all recommended, and regarding my paralyzing lower back pain that happened a few weeks ago.  John asked me to give a chronological account of what exactly happened, I said:

- 2 weeks ago woke up with spasms of back pain which immobilized me.
- Any movement at all sent me into agony
- Stopped practicing
- David Garrigues and Joy recommended I read Mind Over Back Pain.
- I did.
- Realized some emotional conversations had to take place. I had those conversations.
- Pain went away in two days and practice went back to normal
- EXCEPT in the lower back where it still hurts and only in one pose: salamba sarangasana (shoulder stand)

Maybe I am a little crazy, I said looking down, cause I kind of believe that.  John smiled in a way that made me feel I am not crazy at all.  He asked me to pay very close attention to the breathing throughout all of the practice. He had a suspicion from the beginning that Kurmasana could be the issue. He knows my practice pretty well.

Then at around Kurmasana  (here is a short video of the pose from 8 months ago) he came around me, he circled me and did not do or say a thing. He just watched and went away.

Coming up for a breath after that crunched pose I saw John again, he said: "Your breathing in Kurmasana is completely erratic, even though you are getting deeper into the pose, the breath is sometimes noticeable and sometimes it cannot be heard at all" - slight chance I am paraphrasing a bit.

I had no idea! -

I thought that my breathing in Kurmasana was even as a quiet pond.  Turns out it is not at all.  Did  Kurmasana again. This time I noticed!

That is a teacher's brilliance. Being able to so clearly identify where the problem is coming from. I am back to a normal practice now. So grateful.

See also:
Back Pain is the New Ulcer
John Cambpell Yoga


  1. it seems a harsh master, yoga that is so intense. i still only do sun salutations and a few other basics. i sit meditation.

    i like thinking meditation as a quiet pond.

    take care of you.

  2. Great to hear this, Claudia! Kurmasana, huh? Who knew? I'm happy that you have such a great teacher in John :-)

    I'm also really curious about something else: Did you get to ask John about Kapotasana? (Feel free to email me if you think that would be more appropriate...)

    1. Hi Nobel, yes apparently my "leg behind the head" action is beginning to kick in, slowly but surely and the opening affects the lower back... the not breathing correctly was really not helping and I am glad he told me because I seriously did not know!

      As per Kapo, thanks for the private offer but it's quite alright. Truth is I have not tried it in a couple of weeks cause by the time I get to the first three or four of intermediate I am spent and I need to save some energy as I am also trying for those dropbacks... So not yet, but knowing you are interested I will sure blog about it when that moment comes.


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