NotSoZen YogaJen

Me and my yoga mat after restorative yoga class

This is me after class, with my yoga mat over my shoulder.

On Thursday, my physical therapist cleared me for restorative yoga.

This has happened at least three times since the beginning of this year — my hip will start to feel a little better (I’ve had a hip injury for a year and a half and was diagnosed with a labral tear in my right hip last August), my physical therapist will say I can go to restorative yoga that week, and then before I can make it to a class, my hip will flare up again. So I have to take my PT exercise routine down a notch, slowly add back the more challenging exercises once my hip pain has calmed down, and make sure I’m OK doing those exercises consistently. Only then am I cleared again to go to yoga, at which point my hip flares up before I can make it to class.

On Thursday, my physical therapist said, again, that I could go to restorative yoga.

“Go tomorrow!” he said.

I’d been scanning yoga schedules for restorative classes so I’d be ready when this day came, and picked a Saturday evening class at a studio in Manhattan.

Technically, I haven’t been to a yoga class since last spring, when I tried a restorative class after having gotten a cortisone shot. But it feels like it’s been a lot longer because that one doesn’t even really count. It was labeled as a restorative class but it was pretty active, and focused on hip poses — they very thing I can’t do.

When I explained my injury to the teacher before class and said I might need some modifications, she hurriedly brushed me off, saying that I should be taking a private session instead, and she didn’t offer help or alternative poses during class. I could hardly do any of the poses, and was in pain afterwards.

I haven’t been to a yoga class since. And I haven’t been able to practice consistently, and without pain, since I got injured a year and a half ago.

This weekend I had a completely different experience.

Before class, I went up to the teacher and told her I had a labral tear and tendonosis in my right hip. I said that this was my first yoga class in a year, and I may have to modify things.

She told me that she had labral tears in both hips (!), and we talked a bit about this type of injury before class even started.

As opposed to the class I took last year, this restorative class actually was restorative, and involved a lot of props, holding simple poses, and relaxing. Throughout the class the teacher was very attentive, suggesting things I should or shouldn’t do, helping set up props to make my hips more stable, and making sure poses felt OK for me.

Being in a dark, candle-lit yoga studio, doing familiar poses, felt…joyful. And peaceful. Slowing down, taking deep breaths, chanting “Om,” being quiet and meditative and reflective.

But it was also a little sad. Remembering the way I used to practice yoga, the things I used to be able to do, the way I used to be able to move. And thinking about all the poses, like pigeon (which I loved) and headstand (which I hated), that I might never be able to do again. Being in that room was old and familiar, but also different and new.

Afterwards, I spoke to the teacher more and she was really helpful, sharing her experiences with her injuries and recovery process.

It was the perfect first yoga class for me to go back to — slow-paced and gentle, with a knowledgeable teacher who knew firsthand what I was going through.

Walking out onto the street, my yoga mat slung over my shoulder, I felt great. The class hadn’t exacerbated my pain, and it was something I could go back to. To begin my yoga practice again in this new way, that’s very different, but also kind of the same.

And an update since my last post in October

Shortly after I wrote that post, a coworker referred me to a physical therapist who specializes in hip pain whom I’ve been going to ever since, and building up my strengthening PT exercise routine. I was introduced to the foam roller. And I love it! I bought a giant ice pack.

After a few times, I stopped going to the basics Pilates class in the fall because my hip pain was often flared up. At the beginning of this year I was able to go back to Pilates and can make it to my weekly class pretty consistently now.

I’ve tried acupuncture which was recommended but it flared up my pain. I got two massages and one was fine and the other flared up my hip. Last September I tried going to a chiropractor who used Active Release Technique which also flared up my pain. So for the moment I’m staying away from soft tissue work and sticking to PT, Pilates, and now restorative yoga, too.

I read in a comment on this blog post that someone with a labral tear cut out wheat and sugar and felt better, and I was vaguely aware of having heard or read that gluten is inflammatory, so it makes sense that not eating it would help. A week ago I started an experiment of cutting back on gluten and sugar to see if that will make a difference.

At the beginning of last week I had two almost pain-free days where I could go through the day without an awareness of my hip. This felt amazing, and light. It reminded me how draining — physically, mentally, and emotionally — chronic pain is, and what a weight is lifted when it’s not there.

Towards the end of the week, the pain came back. Right now my hips hurt — I am definitely aware of them — and I still have some degree of pain more often than not. But I’m going to foam roll, do my PT routine, and ice while I watch The Big Bang Theory. This morning I went to my regular Pilates class. And last night I went to my first yoga class in a year.

F train

I can’t run to catch you anymore, F train!

After a year of hip pain, and four months of treatment for a misdiagnosed condition, I went to a new doctor and was finally accurately diagnosed with a labral tear in my right hip. I was gearing up to start treatment for my correct condition — scheduling appointments, calling my insurance company — but over the past few weeks my pain has gotten worse, so last week I went in for a check-up with my new doctor.

My right hip pain has been flaring up and my range of motion, which had been improving, has become more limited again. Also, I’ve been experiencing pain in the form of tightness and a burning sensation in my right calf (a side effect of having this injury is that it’s increased my vocabulary for describing pain, having had to repeatedly answer questions about my pain level and sensation — on a scale of 1 to 10, what is your pain level today? Is it dull? Numb? Aching? Burning? Throbbing? Stinging? Sharp and/or shooting?).

My doctor prescribed another MRI to see if something else is going on that’s causing my pain, in addition to the labral tear and tendonosis. So that’s my next step, and once I get those results, they will help determine how I should proceed with treatment.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about what I can and can’t do, having this injury. Not able to go to yoga now, I keep having flashbacks to a yoga class I took in the summer of 2011. I remember thinking during that class, as the sun streamed through the window, how grateful I was to be able to be doing yoga, sweating and happy and moving my body. I remember not taking it for granted, and actually fully appreciating that moment.

There were countless other times I took yoga classes for granted, assuming I’d always be able to go to challenging, vigorous, sweaty, mind-clearing classes. But I’m glad that I consciously appreciated at least one class. And I hope that one day I’ll be able to get back to yoga, and I know that I won’t take it for granted then.

These days, my injury flares up and calms down, is sometimes better and sometimes worse. But I haven’t had a treatment that has made it get better yet (although now that I have the correct diagnosis and will be getting more information from a second MRI, hopefully I will soon). So I’ve had to make adjustments to what I’m able to do, taking into account my current limitations.

Things I Can’t Do With My Injury

  • Practice yoga. Any kind of yoga. Not even restorative.
  • Put on pants without pain — it hits the edge of my range of motion
  • Consistently walk without pain and an awareness of my hip. Some days I don’t notice it much, but other days I feel pain with every step I take.
  • Get into and out of bed without thinking about it. I have to mindfully sit down on my bed, swing my legs up, and then lie down.
  • Sleep on my right side
  • Wear heels. Well, I can, and sometimes do, but the repercussions last for days.
  • Wear flip-flops. I can wear them around my apartment for short periods of time, but if I wear them to walk somewhere outside, my foot starts hurting, and sometimes my calf pain feels worse. This may or may not be related to my hip issue. It could be a totally separate foot issue. But still, flip-flops = pain.
  • Lift heavy things over my head, i.e. putting my suitcase on the overhead rack on the train. I now have to ask for/accept help. Frequently.
  • Plunk down in chairs. That’s what pretty much started this injury in the first place. I have to be careful when I sit down and do it softly and slowly.
  • Sit cross-legged in a meditative position. My right knee points straight up and can’t relax down to the ground like it used to in days of yore.
  • Meditate. OK, technically I could find another position to mediate in besides sitting cross-legged on the floor, but mediating in that position is Pavlovian for me and I’m being stubborn and refusing to mediate any other way.
  • Sit in my favorite writing/talking on the phone position, in my chair with my right leg tucked in
  • Sit on the floor/ground. I went to a concert in the park this summer and was in pain for two days afterwards. I can sit on the floor with my legs tucked under me for about 10 minutes, at which point I have to stand up and search for a chair.
  • Run to catch the subway
  • Walk fast or rush in general

Things I Can Do With My Injury

  • Pilates. A super-basic beginner class where all the students have injuries. Except when my pain is flaring up, I skip this, too.
  • Physical therapy exercises — gentle strengthening and stretching. Although I stopped PT a few months ago when I wasn’t getting better and then discovered that I’d been incorrectly diagnosed so it wasn’t addressing what I actually had. Once I get the results from my second MRI I want to go back to PT, to treat my actual condition this time.
  • Sleep on my left side
  • Slow down. I usually don’t like doing this but it’s probably good for me, on a mental/emotional/spiritual level as well as physical.
  • Get better at asking for/accepting help
  • Connect with other people who are going through/have gone through similar things, and feel better mentally and emotionally as a result
  • Practice taking good care of myself and paying attention to how I feel
  • Ask questions, get information, trust myself, advocate for myself, and make good decisions
  • Feel jealous — so jealous — of people who casually, effortlessly, pain-free-ly swing their legs into a cross-legged position
  • Stay hopeful

Things I’m Not Sure About

  • Given my range of motion limitations, I’m pretty sure that getting a bikini wax would be challenging and even more uncomfortable than it already is
  • Sex is N/A at this point but I’m kind of curious if/how it will work if/when I meet someone I want to have sex with

Other/Misc.

On a side note, I went away this weekend. I left my busy life in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and traveled upstate to a country-esque setting (and on the train I had to ask multiple people to lift my suitcase onto the overhead rack and take it down). When I got back, I realized that although my hip still hurt, it was a lot better, and I had no pain in my calf.

This crystallized my realization that New York City living is tough when you have an injury. Commuting every day on packed subway, I often have to stand the whole way, tensing my body, surrounded by people squished into me. On top of that, people push and shove getting onto and off of the train, flailing their bags and bodies against my hip.

I have to pound the pavement walking to and from work, often in shoes that, even if they aren’t heels, aren’t properly supportive. I have to rush, dodge, brace, swerve, twist, and turn to navigate my daily route.

Upstate this weekend, I wore sneakers. I didn’t have to walk that far. And when I did, most of the time it was across soft, gentle grassy earth.

While I have no plans to give up city living for my injury anytime soon, I’m noticing just how hard the New York City hustle and bustle is on my body, and that there’s a cost to my joints. But at least for now, I can minimize this by doing a few things off my “Can Do” List — like paying attention and slowing way down.

If you have an injury, what can and can’t YOU do? How do you feel about having limitations? What simple activities do you no longer take for granted that you used to? Share your experiences in the comments!

Keep calm and do Pilates

Source: Parsley & Dill

In June, after having been diagnosed with hip bursitis earlier in the year, I had completed two months of physical therapy and gotten a cortisone shot, but my pain persisted and I still couldn’t do yoga.

What happened after that was, I got the second cortisone shot my doctored recommended, which was really the last one I could get, for awhile at least. And my pain got worse. I started having muscle spasms in both legs and pain in my right calf. Also, aside from bursitis, my physical therapist thought that there might be something wrong with my actual hip joint.

I called my doctor to tell him about my worsening symptoms. He was very friendly and upbeat, assuring me that nothing was wrong.

“Youshouldhaveafinehip,” he said.

“What?” I asked. I was taking notes, and didn’t want to miss anything important.

“You. Should. Have. A. Fine. Hip,” he said, overly enunciating every syllable.

I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. The way he’d switched on a dime from warm and cheerful to cold and condescending made me feel like a little kid who was getting reprimanded. So I responded how I always do when someone speaks to me harshly and I feel immense discomfort: with excessive cheerfulness.

“Great, thanks!” I squeaked. “Have a great weekend!”

The next step was to get an MRI but in the meantime my doctor prescribed pain medication for me — at the highest possible dose. I’m very sensitive to medication and also have depression and anxiety, so I quickly experienced disturbing side effects. I felt spacey, disconnected, and checked-out, in addition to really sad and extremely anxious to the point of panic.

After a few days on the medication and feeling like I was jumping out of my skin, I had a meltdown at the pharmacy counter late one night asking through tears if I could stop taking it immediately or had to do it gradually.

“Stop!” the pharmacist said, handing me a tissue.

My gut, which felt like it had been punched after my last conversation with my doctor, was telling me to go to a different doctor. But I felt scared and people-please-y.

Maybe I should at least go back for one more visit and get the MRI through him, I thought.

The primary reason I didn’t want to go back to him was the way he’d talked to me that one time, which didn’t even seem logical. Maybe I was too sensitive or just overreacting.

But then I started to think about how he’d prescribed a pain medication at the highest dose allowed when I’m a fairly petite person who’s highly sensitive to medication. And then I started to think about how after four months of treatment including two cortisone shots, my injury wasn’t getting any better at all. I still felt nervous about not going to him anymore, though.

If I wasn’t trying to please someone else, what would I do? I asked myself.

The answer came loud and clear: Go to a different doctor.

So that’s what I did.

My new doctor didn’t think I had hip bursitis, the condition I’d been diagnosed and treated for over the past four months. She thought I had a labral tear in my hip, and prescribed an MRI.

Early on in my injury, I thought I had a lip labrum tear based on a conversation with my neighbor who had the same thing — her symptoms sounded exactly like my symptoms. At the beginning of this year, when I was experiencing these symptoms, Lady Gaga had a labrum tear in her hip and had to get surgery. My fear, going into my first doctor’s visit in April, had been that I would have a hip labrum tear and would have to get an MRI and surgery, and I was so relieved when I was diagnosed with hip bursitis and did not have to get an MRI.

I’d heard scary stories about MRIs — the enclosed space! The loud noise! — so by the time I got to the hospital for my appointment, I was terrified.

“Are you claustrophobic?” the pre-MRI questionnaire asked. I panicked. I didn’t know if I was claustrophobic. I had anxiety that could be pretty severe at times and didn’t want to discover I was claustrophobic while I was in there.

My MRI technician put me at ease though, talking to me through headphones throughout the session to let me know what was going on. Pretending I was in Savasana pose, I put one hand on my heart and the other on my belly and breathed. The noise was loud but repetitive and oddly soothing, and I fell into a calm, meditative state. By the time it was over I was almost asleep and totally relaxed.

The results of my MRI confirmed what my new doctor had suspected — I had a labral tear in my hip, and no bursitis at all.

A labral tear never heals, but there are things that can be done to manage or hopefully cease the pain, like stretching and strengthening.

After a very extended yoga hiatus and barely being able to do any physical activity all year, at my appointment where I got my MRI results, my doctor cleared me for Pilates right away (!).

Excited to get back to a class of any kind, I found a small Pilates studio a few blocks from where I live that offers a super-beginner level class. That Sunday, I put on yoga pants and a tank top, and sat down on a mat — similar to my familiar yoga mat — at the studio.

There were only four people in class, and before it started I talked to the instructor about my injury.

“I knew about Jen,” the teacher said, standing at the front of the room, “but are there any other injuries I should know about?”

Everyone raised their hands. There was a shoulder injury, a painful lower back, a knee thing.

So this is what it’s come to? I thought, laughing to myself. I used to do advanced yoga and now I’m in Pilates for injured people.

Although I stopped going to physical therapy a few months ago when my injury wasn’t improving, I’ll go back soon and incorporate that into my rehabilitation routine along with Pilates. Hopefully physical therapy will have more of an impact once it’s treating the correct condition.

For now, I feel happiness from my new Sunday afternoon Pilates ritual with a wonderful teacher who remembers what my injury is from week to week, tells me when I shouldn’t do a pose, and offers adjustments and modifications. And with my new — correct — diagnosis, I’m starting all over from the beginning, taking gentle, mindful baby steps on the slow road to recovery.

Me not doing yoga

Two months of PT and one cortisone shot and I still can’t do yoga!

When we last left off, I’d just been diagnosed with hip bursitis. Finally knowing what was wrong with me after having been in pain for six months, I felt relieved, hopeful, and optimistic.

This was two months ago. I’d gone to the doctor, he told me I had hip bursitis, and said I had some choices:

1) I could get a cortisone shot right away
2) I could go to physical therapy
3) I could go to physical therapy for a month and if my hip didn’t feel better after that, then I could get a cortisone shot

He inserted the caveat that most people aren’t responsive to physical therapy for this condition, but it was up to me what I wanted to do. Also, he said that sometimes one cortisone shot completely relieves the pain, but sometimes a second one is necessary. However, two is really the max you can get and if that doesn’t work then you’re just barking up the wrong tree (pose) and need to start looking into if something else is wrong.

Regardless, it seemed totally possible that through some course of treatment, I would be able to be pain-free, regain my full range of motion which had been severely limited by the bursitis, and go back to yoga, resuming my normal practice.

Not wanting to jump right to the cortisone shot without trying other alternatives, I opted for physical therapy for a month, after which I would evaluate how I felt and decide if I wanted to get a shot.

After not being able to practice yoga consistently for months, the moving and stretching in PT felt great. It started out as very gentle strengthening and stretching exercises. Also, being stretched out by the physical therapist, I discovered that having someone else stretch you is like the greatest thing ever — you get to enjoy the juicy stretching sensation without having to exert any effort whatsoever to hold it there.

I thought it would go on like this forever — a gentle stretch here, an easy bridge pose there — but soon, things got harder. Through PT is was revealed that although I’ve been doing yoga for 15 years, I have a very weak core. Having a weak core means I can’t properly hold myself up, so things compress and put undo pressure on my hip. PT then went from gentle stretching to hardcore core workouts, with long holds in forearm plank becoming a staple of my routine.

But after one month of stretching, strengthening, and core work, my hip was not showing big signs of improvement — some days it felt better, some days it felt worse, but it always felt painful. At my follow-up doctor appointment, I decided to hold off on the cortisone shot for one more month. I figured that it had taken my body a long time to develop this injury, and I wasn’t going to fix all my misalignment and build up all that strength in just one month.

After the second month though, I still felt daily pain and decided to give the shot a shot. My doctor cautioned that it might feel worse for one or two days, but then would feel better.

Humph, that was it? I thought when I got home after getting my shot, thinking I was in the clear. It really didn’t hurt much at all.

The next morning, I woke up in excruciating pain, worse than any I had ever experienced throughout the entire duration of this injury. Grateful that the doctor had warned me, I knew not to freak out and that I was having a totally normal reaction to it and that this too shall pass.

On Day One, every step I took was painful. Not only was I limping, but I had to hold onto desks, tables, and chairs in order to sit down or stand up, take stairs one at a time, and ask someone to let me sit in a seat on the crowded rush hour subway because it hurt too much to stand.

Day Two was noticeably better but still noticeably painful.

But on Day Three, I felt NO PAIN. For the first time in almost nine months, I was pain-free! Having this injury, I’ve come to automatically limit my range of motion to avoid painful positions, so I was cautious and didn’t try to do anything that I thought might hurt, like sitting cross-legged or bending my right knee in too much. Even with my limited range of motion, I still got the sense that all the pain was gone, which was amazing after having become accustomed to daily pain for so long.

At my final physical therapy session, I reported the exciting news — no pain! — and they gave me program of exercises to continue on my own at home, and a t-shirt as my PT graduation gift.

A week later I started to feel some soreness — not the sharp pain I’d had before, just a little tenderness. It wasn’t bad though, and I’d been given the OK to go back to yoga, so I picked a gentle-looking class that was partially restorative that I wanted to take, and eagerly anticipated my return to yoga.

That day I ran into my neighbor who’s a massage therapist at a physical therapy facility. I’ve been giving him updates about my bursitis, and told him about my plan to go back to yoga.

He suggested that I try Pilates instead, and told me about the studio he went to that he loved. A former yogi, after having done Pilates at the studio for a while he said he took a yoga class there that a classmate recommended.

“You know what I thought of it?” he asked. “Barbaric!”

Unrolling my mat for the first time in months at the restorative class that night, I thought that yoga and I would have a joyful reunion, skipping towards each other with open arms. I thought I’d take things slow, pay attention to how I felt, and back off and modify a few poses if they hurt. I thought I’d be able to do almost everything, and possibly even be able to sit in a cross-legged seat at the beginning and end of class.

This was not what happened.

Almost everything hurt. I had to modify a ton, back off a lot, flat-out not even do some poses at all. And this was a restorative class.

Trying to make it through class, feeling sharp, shooting pain if I moved too much this way or bent too much that way, I wanted to cry. I’d hoped that I’d be able to — maybe slowly but eventually — go back to my beloved yoga practice as I knew it. I thought that the cortisone shot would be the solution, would bring the healing that would allow me to return to my pre-pain ways.

Sitting cross-legged with my knees bent up to my chest instead of resting comfortably on the ground, my eyes welled up. Poses that were easy for the rest of the students were impossible for me, and every position was a reminder of things I used to be able to do but couldn’t do anymore.

Jen Garam coffee yoga

Look how comfortable I look! I can’t sit like this anymore. But I can still drink iced coffee…

When I got home that night I texted my neighbor, “Took a restorative yoga class tonight: Barbaric.”

After two months of physical therapy exercises which were simple, precise, and alignment-focused, yoga, even a restorative class, seemed too fast-paced and full of coarse, all-over-the-place movements. It hurt during class, and left me afterwards with pain I still feel a few days later.

Despite what I’d hoped for, I hadn’t found the solution, experienced the fix. I had to go back to the drawing board.

I feel so disappointed that my pain isn’t gone, that I can’t yet return to life — and yoga — as usual. But I still feel hopeful that one day I will be able to be pain-free; it just might take longer and look different than I’d initially thought.

Even though I graduated from physical therapy last week, I’m going to call to make another appointment this week. I’m going to get the second cortisone shot that I hoped I wouldn’t need. I’m going to be as diligent as I can with doing my ongoing physical therapy exercises at home. I’m going to take yoga off the table for the foreseeable future to prioritize healing my hip bursitis. And once this post-yoga class pain in my hip calms down, I’m going to check out that Pilates studio that my neighbor recommended.

It makes me sad to think of giving up yoga, for now at least, as it’s brought me so much healing, serenity, and happiness for the past 15 years, and been such a big part of my identity. But being in so much pain, I didn’t even enjoy the class I took the other day, and I know that right now, my body needs something else. So for the time being, I just might become NotSoZen PilatesJen.

leg injury

(source)

I’ve had injuries before where I couldn’t do yoga. There was my back pain, my tweaked out arms and neck, and my broken toe. But none of these things seemed that serious, and the most I’ve ever had to stay away from yoga was a little over a month.

This is worse.

In September, my right hip and leg started hurting after a restorative yoga class. This class consisted of lounging around for long periods of time, propped up on various bolsters and blocks, so it was baffling how I got hurt during it. I meditate daily, and after this class I noticed that it started to hurt to sit cross-legged in meditation, so I took a short break from yoga and mediating, and then went back to both after about a week.

Over the next few months, several things happened to make my injury worse:

  • One Saturday night in November, I double booked myself and made two plans. I was tired and cranky and couldn’t decide which plan I wanted to do, so I canceled one, and then I changed my mind and canceled the other one, and then I tried to get my first plan back but it was too late. So I wound up home alone with no plans, and in frustration I plunked down hard on my wooden kitchen chair. I felt something snap in my right hip, and it hurt. Then I had canned soup for dinner. That night sucked. The next day the pain was still bad, and I was limping. I was so mad at myself! If only I’d gone out for one of my plans! If only I hadn’t been so cranky! If only I hadn’t plunked so hard! And I took a break from yoga and meditating again.
  • In December, I was showing off — not warmed up at all — how I could touch my toes. I made it half-way there when I felt pain in my right leg, and again, took another yoga/meditation break.
  • On New Year’s Eve Day I went to yoga. I took precautions. I talked to the teacher before class and told him about my injury. I didn’t sit cross-legged at the beginning of class. I sat in Virasana. On a block. But, not wanting to be limited, not wanting to be injured, I tried to do Compass pose. And hobbled out of class.

At this point, I could have gone to a doctor. Except I didn’t have health insurance then and having no idea how serious my injury was, I was afraid that walking in a doctor’s office would bankrupt me. So I decided to manage it myself by taking a longer break from yoga — six weeks off — and hoping it was just a pulled muscle or something and that that would take care of it.

After six weeks off yoga, a number of things happened to make my injury worse:

  • The day before I went back to yoga, I went sledding. Sitting cross-legged on the sled brought back the pain in my leg and hip. And it turned out that I didn’t even like sledding, although I did like the hot chocolate afterwards.
  • In pigeon pose in yoga class, the teacher adjusted me. Doing hip opening poses like pigeon is excruciating with this injury, but I’d figured out a way to make it not hurt that much by not opening my knee that wide. But on this day, the teacher came over and adjusted me, moving my knee wide and opening my hip way up. I told him I had a hip injury and didn’t want to go deep into the pose, but he moved my leg anyway saying that the way I was doing it would injure my knee, and then I’d have an injured knee and hip. This is where I got mad at the teacher, and even madder at myself. Because the teacher was a hot guy and one of those too-cool-for-school yoga teachers, and even though I know better, in the moment when he adjusted me I abandoned myself and let him, whereas if he had been a woman, or a not-so-hot guy, I would have stood my ground.

By this time I had health insurance again, and friends who were encouraging me to stop blowing this off and go to the doctor. So I made a doctor’s appointment but the earliest I could get in was in three weeks.

I suspected that my days of yoga were numbered and once I went to the doctor he was going to tell me that I couldn’t go anymore, so I just wanted to get in a few more classes. That weekend I went to yoga. I felt sort-of-OK-not-terrible afterwards.

But the next day I was in agonizing pain, and it was constant. I felt it with every step I took. When I stood up. When I sat down. While I was sitting. Walking up stairs. Going down stairs. And even though I’d been all this-is-no-big-deal about my injury for six months, all of a sudden I started to FREAK OUT.

This was my LEG. I need it to STAND ON. And it hurt ALL THE TIME. I was afraid I’d be in pain forever, that I’d never be able to do to yoga again, or to take a step without feeling a sharp pang in my leg.

I worried that I had a torn hip labrum like Lady Gaga (she does yoga, too!), and that I’d need an MRI and surgery, only I wouldn’t be able to afford a blinged-out wheelchair like Gaga’s.

I was freaking out, and I couldn’t do the thing which makes me not freak out, which was go to yoga. I panicked that I’d have to go on anti-anxiety meds, only I’m super-sensitive to medication and the one time I took it for a week I wound up not only not anxious, but sedated.

And then my doctor appointment arrived. I told him my symptoms, and he diagnosed me, which seemed kind of miraculous. That I didn’t have to worry and wonder and assume the worst anymore. That I could say, “This is what is wrong,” and he could say, “This is what you have.”

Which is hip bursitis. Something that does not require an MRI, or surgery, or a secondhand wheelchair. Something that can get better. Something where I can be free of pain, get my full range of motion back, and return to yoga.

I start a month of physical therapy next week and I’m so excited. I like/need to practice yoga about three times a week, and I haven’t be able to practice consistently since last fall. I’ve only gone to yoga a handful of times so far this year, between taking long, long breaks. As a result I often feel tired, achy, listless, foggy — and anxious!

I’m not meditating because sitting in my favorite meditation position is painful. Technically, I could still meditate and sit in any number of other positions, but meditating is kind of Pavlovian for me and I associate sitting cross-legged on a rolled-up blanket with the peace I then feel, so I’m being stubborn and not meditating at all.

Sitting cross-legged is also my favorite lounging around my apartment position, and my favorite watching TV position. Pulling my right leg in and crossing it is my writing position, and my talking on the phone position. I haven’t been able to do any of these things in months either.

After having been relatively inactive — and in pain — for so long, I’m excited to move and stretch in physical therapy. I’m excited for gentle exercise, being forced to take it easy and not push myself, which feels like it’s going to be really nurturing. I’m excited for healing my body and getting my writing and lounging and meditation positions back. And one day hopefully soon, getting my yoga back.

Om Sweet Om

Last week I wrote about finding my new yoga home at Yoga Vida. Inspired by a comment on that post that everyone should have a yoga home, I decided to compile a list of potential yoga homes for those yogis and yoginis still on the lookout for one. Here are the yoga studios in New York City and Brooklyn that I’ve called home through the years:

Jivamukti
Om (now closed)
Laughing Lotus
The Shala
Park Slope Yoga Center
Area Yoga
Bend & Bloom
Lucky Lotus Yoga
Yoga to the People

Last week I was flirting with the idea that Yoga Vida was my new yoga home, but this week I solidified my commitment and got a monthly unlimited class pack, with the goal of going at least three to four times a week.

There are many benefits of having a yoga home. First of all, it’s reinvigorated my enthusiasm for my practice. And it gives me a sense of community — there are lots of different classes I want to try and workshops offered frequently, and it’s a place I want to go and be a part of things. Especially living in a city where it’s easy to feel isolated and disconnected from others, I’m often searching for community to connect with. For me, a yoga home also provides consistency, stability, and a nurturing routine.

What about you — where’s your yoga home? And what do you love about it, what makes you call it home? Please add your yoga home to this list (include links and location if you’d like) in the comments!

Yoga Vida lounge

Don’t you want to curl up on these couches?

I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to yoga. Since I started practicing, my pattern has generally been that I will find a studio I like and I will make a commitment. I will buy 10-class packs, and mostly, go only there, for months and months or years and years. And then I will tire of that place for whatever reason, and go somewhere else to mix it up. Then that studio will become my new yoga home. I’ll have my favorite weekly classes I go to without fail, the people at the front desk and teachers will get to know me. And so it goes. Until I move on to the next place.

But for the past several years, I’ve been yoga-homeless. I’ve flitted around. I’ve paid on a per class basis, never committing to a class pack. The front desk people ask me for my name when I check-in, the teachers don’t recognize me. I find a class I like here and a class I like there, but no one place that fulfills all my yoga needs.

Also, over the past few years, the expense of yoga has become an issue. I used to go anywhere, regardless of the price of the classes. The mental, physical, and spiritual benefit I received from yoga was worth it, I rationalized. This is also why a considerable amount of my credit card debt in the early 2000’s was from yoga classes. I don’t want to go into yoga debt anymore, and I cringe paying the now customary $18-$22 for a class other than as an occasional treat.

When I started this blog, being on a tight budget, I was on a mission to seek out the most affordable yoga studios. At that time, I prided myself on being able to spend $25 for five classes in one week through a combination of donation-based, community, discounted, and free classes. Lately though, I’ve lost momentum with this mission. I have my go-to donation-based place, and a low-priced studio I sometimes frequent, but I was no longer on the lookout for great yoga deals.

Then one day my friend who’s a yoga teacher was raving about Yoga Vida. I’d heard about it awhile ago, and vaguely recalled that the class prices were supposed to be pretty cheap. So when my friend mentioned it, I decided to look it up, and saw that they offered an intro week special for new students: $10 for one week of unlimited yoga.

Yoga Vida has two studios–a location near Union Square and one near Houston Street. I figured that there would be restrictions on the unlimited class pack and that I’d have to pick one studio or the other to use it at, so I called to find out so I could decide which one I wanted to commit to. Just for the week.

A friendly woman answered the phone, and told me that I could use the unlimited classes at both studios. Between the two schedules, they offer classes at any time you could possibly want to practice yoga. She also told me that included in the $10 week of yoga was one free mat and towel rental.

“This is the BEST YOGA DEAL EVER!” I exclaimed. “I’ll definitely be coming in soon. You’ll recognize me because I’ll be the super-enthusiastic person.”

“Great!” she responded warmly. “We can’t wait to see you!”

At that low price point (regular class prices are still really affordable–$12 for a single class, $90 for a 10-class pack, and $110 for monthly unlimited), I was not expecting the huge, clean, beautiful studio when I went to my first class at their Union Square location. And on top of the gorgeous, window-lined, light-filled practice rooms, there is a cozy lounge area with comfy couches and a nice changing area.

The class was great, and reminded me of what I loved about yoga early on, when I practiced at places like Jivamukti during what I consider my yoga heyday about 10 years ago. Those vigorous, sweaty, stretchy classes. That post-class, clear-headed, sore-bodied yoga bliss. The big, beautiful space that feels like a community center. Familiar and nostalgic, going to Yoga Vida renewed my enthusiasm for yoga. I went to three classes my first week, bringing the per-class price to a mere $3.33 (not even factoring in the free rental mat and towel!) and proving to be the BEST YOGA DEAL EVER.

Since doing their intro special two weeks ago, I’ve gone to a few more classes and continue to feel at home there. I’ve curled up on the couch in the lounge before class and read. Last night in class, I sat in the front row. The teacher was looking around the room, paused, and said to me, “I know you! From years ago.” I used to take her class a lot at one of my previous yoga homes.

After so many years of being a yogic free agent, I’m wary of making a commitment. But also, over the past few years and especially lately, I’ve been searching for my new yoga home. Given my budgetary restrictions, there are cheaper places I can go to practice yoga, but with donation-based and the more inexpensive classes, I don’t get the full beautiful, expansive, serene yoga studio experience. So Yoga Vida provides the best of all worlds–great classes and teachers, a beautiful space, and front desk friendliness, on the cheap. All the qualities I’m looking for in a yoga home. I’m almost even ready to take my commitment to the next level and buy a class pack. And maybe one day it will become that place, like my yoga homes of years past, where I don’t need to give my name when I check-in anymore because I’m just like, home.

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