I have not taken a class since April 7. That day, I was in Susan Bowen’s 2/3 hot vinyasa class. She led an upbeat session that had us moving through sun salutations and modifications. I noticed something was wrong: I began feeling pain and discomfort in practically every pose and transition of the vinyasa, deep in my core and focused on my left psoas and radiating down by leg, up towards my hip and kidneys and across my hips. In the earlier stages of the injury, it was happened only in certain poses, and I would avoid them or get into them very mindfully. Now there was no avoiding the pain and muscle spasms.
In the middle of the class, I shut myself down. I did poses to soothe my core muscles, hip abductors/flexors and lower spin, laying or seated on the mat. I rested on my back with my knees propped on blankets. All the while my friends were sweating away in an active class.
For two month, since the first instance of the injury, I had rested the injury, making regular visits to my body worker, Howard Rontal, and then started taking yoga class after two weeks being very mindful in my poses and flows. During my daily routine, I was not conscious of any difficulties. At the gym, I did not feel any problem doing aerobic exercises.
Obviously, that approach did not work, because the injury (?) has flared up in a more generalized pattern. I decided to stop yoga classes again, see a chiropractor and check in with my acupuncturist, Kelly Welch, who had helped me in the past. More in future entries.
When I came home from work last night, I felt completely exhausted and sore. It might have been a bug going around in my family (son, daughter and daughter have all taken ill), but it’s more likely that it just the physical wear and tear coming from the emotional grind of my father’s death. I have been trying to project an image of being steadfast and strong for my mother and the rest of the family so I just keep pushing ahead to get through the memorial service and then get back into the daily routine of life.
It does not help that I have not made it to yoga class since last Friday. Yoga has a way of breaking down pockets of stress and distributing them through the whole body so I may feel sore or tired, but it’s generalized, not focalized. I’ve been doing my evening routine of restorative/yin yoga, but I really need my yang practice, either at home or at a class.
But I did not go to my normal class this morning. I slept in and let myself drown in the silence and solace. I need to visit my mother to see how she’s doing. After that, I want to go to the gym just to get the juices flowing again. The mind-body connection is so pivotal to understand oneself and human kind in general.
I went to a dental appointment in the morning; it was a follow-up to treatment that had been done last week. By the time the anesthetic started wearing off, my jaw was throbbing. The nerve endings must have been hypersensitive the second time around. The pain was distracting and made me feel like a zombie. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living, which is about using meditation and yoga to face pain. Of course, Kabat-Zinn is talking about chronic pain from serious illness, not just pain resulting from a dental visit. But pain is still pain, in the last count.
I decided to see if my yoga practice could help me. At lunch, I went to an available meeting room at work and shut the door. I did 15 minutes of pranayama and 30 minutes of meditation. It really did help me. The pain was still there but it seemed to shrink. It was no longer throbbing and radiating down my neck.
After work, I went to my evening yoga class. During warm up, I scanned my body and noticed that the pain had stiffened up the muscles in my neck and shoulders, even though the pain in my jaw was less severe that earlier in the day. By the end of the class, the tension had been released and I was drenched in sweat and energy.
And to top it off, I shared the class with my 27-year-old daughter. We had a light supper afterward, talking about yoga, football playoffs and life plans. Talk about feel good.
I originally wrote this account as part of my participation in the online course with Kelly McGonigal. It’s been quite enlightening and empowering. We’ll see how it plays out over the next 50 weeks.