About a year ago, I injured myself in a yoga class. Guess I pushed myself too far past the edge while doing a reverse warrior pose (see left) and then kabam! I felt my back snap. When it happened, I knew I did something wrong. The back injury lead to pain not only in my back but immediately to my glutes, my bands, my hips, and my hamstrings as well. I was a complete mess! I couldn’t sit or even lie down without pain shooting in these areas. My mom kept wagging her finger telling me that I shouldn’t have pushed myself so hard. But yoga was so awesome, I responded.
I went to see a doctor who told me I injured my back because of really weak ab muscles. Apparently, muscles in the back, abs, and quads are all kept in a happy balance by the pelvis. When one area is weak, the other areas compensate. And in the case of strenuous stretching like yoga, my back was overcompensating for the weak ab muscles and decided it had enough. A yoga teacher once told me that the body was one big muscle. I finally understood what he was talking about. So off to 8 weeks of physical therapy. It helped somewhat but the pain didn’t completely go away.
I lived in intermittent pain throughout the year. I tried to go back to yoga after a few months, but the pain came back. Then I started seeing The Trainer last May. He has been a godsend!!! He’s a marathon runner, a master trainer, and works at my personal gym. My employer hired him to provide orientation sessions in our newly re-furbished office gym and he opened up his training services to me and other colleagues. I see him weekly! He is such an expert on the body and muscles that I trust him like I would my doctor! He said he would help me work through my pain and I eagerly said, “yes, please!”
He’s taught me excellent stretches that I do first thing in the morning and another time in the day, he’s encouraged me to drink 90 ounces of water a day (that’s 3 Nalgene bottles folks) which forces me to get out of my chair and run to the bathroom, and he’s really showed me the importance of daily cardiovascular exercise (3x/week: a brisk 4-mile walk in Central Park with colleagues in 1hr 10 min, 3x/week: an hour in a spin class or on the elliptical, 1x/week: weight training with Mark, 1x yoga: to stretch and meditate) to get fresh, oxygenated blood into my system and for a healthy heart. Although I am not 100% recovered, I am on the mend. I feel more stiffness than pain these days and I’ve gone back to gentle yoga (nothing too intense yet).
Thanks to to a high protein, low-carb diet (‘cuz you need carbs to do intense cardio) and daily exercise, I’ve also lost more than 10 lbs and have gone down 3 dress sizes. My mom says that I’ve disappeared. But I feel great and healthier than ever, even more than I did when I was on the crew team in college.
Today’s gentle yoga class consisted of some standing postures including that dreaded reverse warrior pose. But I didn’t push myself and I really forced myself to breathe. From reverse warrior, we transitioned to triangle pose (see right), and it was when my teacher came to help me adjust my lower hip forward did I feel the twinge in my bands…the old injury!!! So that’s how I aggrevated these muscles! I eased off and did a variation.
Awareness is key. Immediately after class, I stretched my bands the way Mark showed me and I did some other back stretches. It all helped. I feel okay this evening. Phew!
You know, at first I was really upset that I caused all these injuries to myself. But I see now my injuries as a part of me and have accepted them as so. Regardless of whether or not they heal completely, it is because of them that I have become so aware of my body and conscious of the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. If it were not for the pain, I wouldn’t have started walking or weight training nor would I have taken the time to stretch properly. Suffering is a part of life and there is great cleansing and healing through the process of suffering — I always believed that on a spiritual level. Now I see that it is true also on a physical level.