Friday, September 19, 2014

Yoga teacher, teach yourself

August and September have been pretty difficult for me.  It all started (as my problems often do) with just a little bit of hubris on a hot day.  I have been practicing yoga for more than fifteen years and I have a few tricks. Sometimes I'm pretty proud of them, even though I know that isn't what yoga is.  What I love most thought, is the the full Dancing Warrior series.  It makes me feel strong and centered and just a little bit cool.  I use it as a flow.  I use it as long holds.  I push myself to get as deep into each pose as I can go.  Sometimes further than I should.

"Look how deep I am in this pose.  This is awesome.  This is great.  I rock. I am so good at this. Hmmmmm, that doesn't feel quite right.  Ow!  Was that a popping noise, or did it just feel like one? Damn."

I have since been assured that pushing myself more than I should have didn't cause my plantar fasciitis, but it sure didn't help.  Three days on the couch thinking it was bursitis, elevation and rest, was the exact wrong thing to do.  Gentle stretching is what plantar fasciitis demands.  Trying to wear sandal that were "good" for my feet, like my Birkenstocks, also exactly the wrong thing to do.  Who knew cushy flip flops would be the only shoes I could wear for about six weeks?  Foot supports, shoe inserts and exercise all helped, but the most relief I got was from Magnesium Oil. (thanks Sarah!)  The plantar fasciitis became a manageable part of my life.  But it still hurts.

I guess it was a good thing that most of my usual private lessons cancelled on me (only yoga teachers on Nantucket seem to get much work in August), because I'm not sure hobbling in with a lame foot would have inspired much confidence.  The stiffness from sitting around unable to practice wouldn't have either.  The general mien of being in pain, probably not so great as well.

So the physical stuff wasn't working so well.  Then my beautiful little girl got home from her summer adventure in Alaska and spent just under thirty-six hours with us before heading back to Penn.  (Yes, I bought her everything I could think to in that tiny amount of time.)  less than a day later it was time to get my gorgeous boy (who I'd never been away from for more than 2 weeks before) ready for four months in Spain. (So what if I shop wildly when nervous, he needed all that stuff.)  OK, so the family stuff wasn't so easy and under my control either.

Then, in the middle of my empty nest freak out, my dream job appeared.  It was perfect.  Full time.  Local.  Great pay.  And doing exactly what I loved doing.  I quickly pulled together my resume, and I was beyond thrilled when they called me to come in.  So I shoved my mangled feet into proper shoes, bought a blue linen blazer, and went on my first job interview in 20 years.  I don't think it went as well as I thought it did.  I heard nothing for 2 weeks and then a got a very polite "No, thanks."  So yeah, also out of my control.

The boy was homesick and miserable and far away and there was nothing I could do for him, but worry.  Then one sunny late summer day my lower back just went out.  Completely out of the blue.  I didn't do anything.  Literally I was just sitting there and when I got up, "wham" massive low back pain.  I spent four days in denial, and in horrible pain. Unable to sit at all.  Doing tiny bits of yoga (I did say this post was about yoga) at home, barely being able to do cat/cows.  Child's pose was impossibly painful.  When I finally gave in to the reality that I was really hurt and it was beyond my ability to heal, and called my good friend and massage therapist extraordinaire ,the aforementioned Sarah  she looked at me and said,  "I can help a little, but you really need to go to a physical therapist."

So I completely relinquished control.  I was not going to be able to fix this myself.  And off  I went yesterday, to the world's most amazing physical therapist. (Bless you Doug! You are more miracle worker than PT) He pushed and pulled and prodded and patched me back together and I began feeling almost human immediately.  I ran for for the train!  And I stopped making yelpey noises when I sat down.  Huzzah!  I'm back.  Sorta.  I'm not one hundred percent, but I'm more than eighty. And I get to go off to the Eagles concert without feeling completely like a totally decrepit old bag.

Then this morning rolls along. (And I have finally, after a long and circuitous route, gotten to my point.)  Still this morning, I feel pretty good.  I danced at the Eagles concert last night.  I clapped and yelled and even jumped up and down a bit.  It was more exercise than I've gotten in a month.  And I'm OK.  A little sore, but not terrible.  I begin my modified, gentle stretch it out yoga, slowly.  Everything feels pretty good.  I spend about a half hour stretching out my back as best as I can.  A few twinges here and there, but overall, I feel good.  I can move.   I can even do a Sun Salutation A (no jumping) with no pain.  So of course I decide to try out a bit of Dancing Warrior, not the whole thing, just the starting pose or two.  Just to feel like I'm back to normal.  And no I'm not.  I didn't get past the first Warrior I without my body telling me quite firmly that this was the time for humble, not hubris.  I can move again, but it is going to be a bit longer before I am able to move the way I want to.  And that's OK.  I think that is part of what I needed to learn.  It's OK.  It's gentle movements and holds for as long as it takes.  I'm not in control, and that's OK.  I can listen instead of telling.  I can yin.  I don't have to always yang.  And that is what I needed to be taught.


Leslie Blythe said...

Wow, what a nightmare! By the way, I am too scared to do yoga....

Suki said...

Don't be scared!!!!!! It's really fun. (Just don't be a dumb ego nut like me :-))