I sought out a conversation with Pierre Couvillion, a wandering yoga instructor and bodyworker, about my knee injury. Pierre has been filling some teaching holes at Thrive Yoga due to the August vacation absences. I wanted the opinion of someone who understood yoga and bodywork with a non-medical outlook to balance against what my doctor and acupuncturist told me. He recommended going ahead with the surgery because Western medicine deals more effectively with meniscus tears than other health alternatives.
Although I can trace my injury to the Rumbaugh workshop (part 1, part 2) a month ago because that’s when it started to hurt, I can not say that it was the cause of the injury. At no time did I sense a jab of pain or feel that I had gone too far. It was only the next day that I notice a minor ache in my knee. It was two weeks after the event that the injury got in the way of my yoga practice. Pierre told me that injuries often happen at workshops because the “glow of a extraordinary teacher” frequently blind us to the limits of our bodies. I know that I was physically tired towards the end of the weekend, which is a double edge sword: the fatigue breaks down resistance in the body, but it can make me insensitive to the natural limits.
I’ve made major changes to my life style in the past five years. When I finished my Masters degree in May 2003, I was in sad shape. Working full time and getting a graduate degree, I smoked, ate poorly and was sedentary during work hours and at home. I was at least 30, maybe even 40 at times, pounds overweight. This blog documents my long slog back into a healthy life style. I’ve only been running since October last year. I’ve tried to increase my exercise regime’s intensity gradually, both with the practice of yoga and running. That’s why I adopted Chirunning, because it tried to reduce the heel’s impact on the ground. But I could have abused my meniscus over the past year or worn it down over the past five years, or it could have been a problem that was just waiting for the right trigger to set it off, like a piece of paper that had been folded repeatedly in the same place and finally tore apart. Although I’ve tried to prevent myself from doing harmful things, like fit into lotus pose before my body was ready, I am still laboring with the body with tight hips that has sat in front of a computer for 20 years (if I had sat crosslegged on the ground all my life, I probably would not have this problem). My tight hips are going to stress my knees automatically, and I noticed that as my legs gradually moved closer to resting on the ground in easy pose, it increased the torque on the knees. I am one month short of being 59 years old, after all, and the body starts breaking down at this stage.
There are lots of adjustments that can be done to protect the knees, but when you have a torn meniscus, there’s no way around it.
What I am trying to say is that my injury did not happen because I was a bad yogi who was misusing his body. It’s not my fault. I think I was especially at risk because my tightly wound muscles were loosening a different speeds.