15 Aug 2013

Wisdom all around

Went for coffee time at my husband's parents after a session of physio. They live on the outskirts of town, in a modest little house, tending the land.  It is serene.  Always feel leave in a much calmer, happier frame of mind. This is in front of their house.

My  mother-in-law is an energetic 86 year old.  She grows most of her own vegetables, cooks amazingly simple healthy old style Japanese food and can sew anything from kimono, to futons, to suits. She has a contented, peaceful energy about her.  It's nice to sit down over tea and discuss fabric.

So I show up looking a little dejected after my physio, saying it's taking so long for me to get better.  My husband and his mother then tell me the story of his motorcycle accident at the age of 19 which could have resulted in his leg being amputated. The doctor said he had never been able to successfully treat this kind of complex fracture to date, but would try.  Everything was a first, an experiment.  I hadn't heard all the details before, certainly put things into perspective. He spent three months laying still in a hospital bed, a year on crutches and three years limping. The fact that he healed perfectly, and then went on to become a professional snowboarder, amazes me  Talk about an inspiring pep talk. 

The thing I found interesting was the point his mother lingered on the longest was about how important absorbing the sun's energy is.  Yes yes, we who do yoga salute the sun and talk about absorbing prana from the suns rays. I realise the importance.  But it was beautiful to hear this wisdom being yet again confirmed.  

She told me how important it is to expose yourself to the sun, to absorb the healing rays, to eat sun dried food in winter, to always dry your clothes outside in the sun.  Simple things. How she took these sun dried foods to her son in hospital, and provided linen smelling of the sun for him.  But, I see many around who have lost this sense of the sun's power. Especially here where women go to great lengths to avoid the sun brushing their skin.  Life is led inside so often here.  The skin cancer scare. In fact in the UK they have now decided that actually, it's fine to go out in the sun, it's good for you!  Yep.  

I need to go visit more often for coffee and listen a bit more. Much wisdom here.  Every time I see her I feel a little silly for dashing off to workshops here and there, and reading all these esoteric books, when here is this serene woman who knows, right in front of me.

Not just this conversation, but recently, because of this injury, people have been opening up with many stories of pain and injury and their own learning experiences, of all varieties.  Also perhaps as I have been more still, moving at a slower pace I can take the time to see and hear more.  Listening to those around us, every one, holds some of the deepest lessons, don't you think?  

So I have been spending more time outside, and how beautiful outside around here is.  

Today, this was my workspace. I have also commandeered the scooter, seeing as riding my bicycle is still a bit much for my knee to take. But the local outside pool is providing blissful exercise. 

4 Aug 2013

Hobble on the Mat

Well, it was a start.  Layed my single crutch down and hobbled onto my mat. Have promised myself to take this very slowly and rebuild my practice little by little.  Supplemented with physiotherapy.

One salutation to the sun.  So nice just to be back on the mat, perhaps a bit early for much, but no expectations, no judgement.  A little pranayama, and meditation.  Enough for today.  Good lady ; )

3 Aug 2013

Back to the Blog

It's been a while. I stopped writing for many reasons, one was I couldn't remember why I was writing this blog in the first place.  Feel like I've gone through a bit of a growth spurt of sort, or perhaps some growing pains, nothing much to say.  I practiced, thought, wrote, studied, taught, learnt, and got on with life and that was enough.

February my old painful right knee took a major turn for the worse.  So practice was paired back to only what I could do without pain.  But for a few weeks everything was painful.  Even sleeping.

Two weeks ago I finally had surgery on the knee.

I had avoided this for too long, thinking I could somehow magically fix my knee with yoga, will power, and muscle.

Nope.  Torn menisci don't work that way.  Really.  I tried.

The last straw was bodyboarding, an enthusiastic kick to catch the wave well and truly locked my knee.  The only way out a partial meniscectomy.  Have been feeling very lucky that my knee locked in the sea, and not up a mountain, that there just so happens to be a leading authority on knees in the local hospital who could operate on me the day I hobbled in on crutches in excruciating pain. Also that it is summer holiday, my work schedule was light anyway, lessons could be easily cancelled and covered while I recuperate.

Why was my knee such a mess in the first place??? Oh yeah, yoga is bad for you I can hear people thinking....no no it wasn't the yoga.  In fact I'm always so careful with my yoga practice, it was everything else.

The ski accident, being hit by three cars in my life, breaking my right leg the first time, and damaging the knee the second, extreme sports, followed by extreme web-surfing and sewing, losing muscle...earthquake induced fear, stress, indulging in more coffee and sugar than I should have.  At times focussing perhaps too much on the spiritual and philosophical side of yoga, not working out deep pelvic muscle enough..oh the list goes on and one.

The first time I had knee problems was after a ski accident, ten years ago, very minor, no doctor, pain walking for a few weeks.  All fine for years.  Would have little pains in the months between ski and bodyboarding season.  Muscle tone down a bit. All the skiers and boarders around me are a collection of pain and injuries, that's the world of extreme sports.  Bit of pain is normal.

Then came that big old earthquake and nuclear disaster.  I sat in front of my computer for hours and hours, paralysed with fear, researching, reading, watching the winds, checking radiation levels.  Weeks of this.  Yes I did practice yoga, but it was more of an exercise in mental health maintenance.  A primary flow with Sharath.  Working on the breath and dristi, reading the Bhagavadgita. And most importantly no bodyboarding. Little did I know what a vital role this sport had played in keeping me pain free for more than a decade until I couldn't do it.

I didn't realise I was strong until I got weak.

So one day, doing the usual yoga, my hip popped.  Horrible sounding, never heard it that loud before.  They had often clicked a lot.  But this was an almighty pop.  The next day I couldn't walk up and down stairs, or much at all due to the pain in my knee.  What the hell?  I've read all the relevant articles about knees and lotus, stiff hips and pressure on menisci.  So what was going on?  Went to the doctor, and received the news that I had congential hip dysplysia.  Basically shallow hip sockets, which I had managed to keep under control by coincidentally using all the right muscles bodyboarding.  Stop the boarding, lose the muscles and femurs wobbled and popped and damaged my menisci.  On the one hand I was pleased that I hadn't done something so 'wrong' with my yoga practice, but on the other devastated that I was deformed!!!

So, I guess I hadn't worked on those muscles enough, and well to cut a long story short, many knocks to the menisci caused a tear in February (while jumping up from sitting on a cold cold night.....) thought it was getting better by June, I could walk, climb up and down stairs, ride my bike and yoga was getting back to 'normal'.  Then bam.

So surgery.  Now I am feeling more positive, this pain has gone on and off for years.  Finally it has been treated.  But I have to accept that Ashtanga yoga isn't enough to keep my thighs in their sockets. Need to supplement and literally work my arse a lot more.  Get my bones back in line.

I am very thankful to be teaching Yoga and to have this opportunity to understand my body in more depth.  Physiotherapy is just fascinating, I am drilling the guy with questions.

Determined to come out of this stronger, stronger than before. But building upon the spiritual foundations I have carved out in times of pain over the last years.  Pain really is a great teacher.  But I've had enough for now thank you.  At least these varieties of pain.

So time to rebuild my practice on all levels from step one.  Today I could finally move about the house without crutches.  Tomorrow I shall start with the Sun Salutations. Pranayama.  Meditation. Physio exercises, including light weights.