NotSoZen YogaJen

Posts Tagged ‘Yoga

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.

Winter sky and tree branchesI went to yoga once last week. I usually go to three classes a week, that’s my goal. And I don’t beat myself up if I fall short of my yoga goal. But I like to make it to that many classes a week because that generally feels manageable with my schedule, and generally makes me feel really good. It gives me energy and calm that helps me navigate the ups and downs of life.

But last week was cold. And dark. And I was tired. So, so tired. On Sundays I go to a really active power Vinyasa class, but given said tiredness, I opted for an evening candle-lit restorative class. And that is progress–to pay attention to how I feel and give into it instead of pushing myself to muscle through. Then Thursday night I was planning to go to yoga but I just needed to go home. Because I had commitments almost every night last week, and sometimes I just need to go home after work and do nothing. Or in this case, laundry. Which wasn’t quite so replenishing but necessary nonetheless.

On Saturdays I go to a morning yoga class in my neighborhood, but I had a hair appointment in the early afternoon and I didn’t have enough time to make it to class beforehand. And I wasn’t planning to go afterwards because I didn’t want to mess up my newly done hair. Then it was snowing anyway, in October, and trying to get around Manhattan in the snow was extra-exhausting so I came home and took a nap, even if that meant messing up my hair.

I want to get back on the wagon and hit my goal this week because not doing enough yoga throws me off. But another thing that’s been throwing me off is the seasons changing in the direction of winter. The cold. The dark. It seemed like everyone I talked to last week was tired and having a hard time adjusting. The cool temperatures can feel brisk and invigorating, and it can be cozy and contemplative to hibernate when it’s chilly outside. But I wasn’t quite there yet last week. Last week I was just tired. When my alarm went off in the morning and it was still pitch black outside, my reaction early in the week was, Really? Already??? and progressed as the days went on to, NOOOOOO!!!!!

I refused to get out of bed when there was not even a sliver of light in the sky yet, and this caused me to leave my apartment 10-20 minutes later than I normally do. Which then brought me smack into the middle of jam-packed-train rush hour commuting time, instead of the easy, utopian commute I usually enjoy where I don’t have to wait long for a subway, the train isn’t full, and I can get a seat. By the time I flew off the packed train at my stop practically gasping for breath, I got to Starbucks later than usual and didn’t have time to write in my journal while I sipped my morning iced tea. And then I didn’t get to work as early as I like to so I can get settled at a leisurely pace and slowly ease into the day. And then I was too tired from all the stress and rushing and waking up in the dark to go to yoga after work.

Every day this past week as I’ve been standing on a crowded subway platform anxiously waiting–and waiting–for the next train, then packed tightly in it when it arrives, I curse myself for hitting the snooze button that extra time or two, and swear that tomorrow will be different! Tomorrow, I shall rise before the sun no matter how tired I am! I will get back on track, and I will not press snooze!

Yoga makes me feel good. Journaling in the morning at Starbucks makes me feel good. Being on my routine makes me feel good. But sometimes, things like the changing seasons interrupt my routine. Historically, I’ve felt totally upended with my schedule goes off-track. But I’m getting better at going with the flow. Paying attention to how I feel and not pushing myself if I’m tired. Skipping yoga if I’m run-down or hitting the snooze button an extra time or two if it’s still freakin’ the dark of night when my alarm goes off! And finding a balance between sticking to my routine, and taking care of myself when seasons change or days grow darker or I just need to slow down and rest.

But I swear, tomorrow I will rise before the sun so I don’t have to have such a crappy commute!

Check out my guest blog on Crazy Sexy Life (love this site, so excited!) to find out!

http://crazysexylife.com/2010/how-yoga-helped-me-get-over-my-ex/

Namaste!

YogaJen

I went to an awesome yoga class early this morning at a studio I’d never been to before with a friend.  The awesome teacher created a really great flow, a totally fun vibe, and played hip-hip and R&B music to boot, which, whenever my two favorites of yoga and hip-hop/R&B are combined, the result is Nirvana.  After class, my friend and I were talking to the teacher, and I told her about my new yoga blog and she asked me what it was about.  “Well,” I said cheerfully,  “it’s about how I’m really anxious and depressed and how yoga really helps me!”

You’re depressed?” she asked.

“She hides it well,” my friend said.

“I’m highly functional!” I said.

I might possibly be one of the most upbeat and optimistic people you’ll ever meet.  But I’ve also struggled with severe depression for much of my life, which you wouldn’t know unless you walked in on me crying on the floor of my apartment.  I’m dramatic, so when I’m depressed I like to go for it full-out and hit the floor.  I live in a studio which makes it really convenient – I can cry on my bedroom floor, kitchen floor, and study floor by just moving a few feet this way or that.  And my favorite floor, when I reaalllyyy want to relish in my depression, and made popular by Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love, is the bathroom floor.

At my last job, I had a co-worker who used to ask me, “Has anyone ever called you Polyanna?” and “Are you ever not in a good mood?”  I’d smile and shrug in way that subliminally conveyed, That’s me!  Always happy!  I hide it well.  I’m highly functional.  But I’m not so into hiding it anymore.

I’m getting better at managing my depression, which isn’t to say that it still doesn’t take me out every once in a while.  But yoga makes me happy.  There are studies to support this but I don’t know what they are offhand so I’m not going to cite them here, and this may not be true for everyone, but for me, yoga lifts me up when I’m feeling down.  It puts the brakes on my thoughts when they’re racing fast and furious.  And when I consistently practice, it helps me to live in a more equanimous and balanced way day-to-day.  I’m rarely completely balanced and blissed-out, but it takes the edge off my high highs and my low lows.  To quote Naughty By Nature’s Hip Hop Hooray, yoga helps me “Smooth it out now!”

What benefits do you experience from your yoga practice?  How do you feel when you get away from it?  And then when you go back to it?

Namaste!

YogaJen