Yoga Therapy: End of week 1 – reflections

I’m just about to start week two of my yoga therapy course. I’m aware of how fast the time is passing but trying not to think about it. My yoga therapy feels like it’s incredibly slow going, but life in India and on holiday is also very good therapy. I’m not spending 8-12hours at a desk, I’m not running from A to B, I’m eating well and I’m being more active. I’m walking a lot (for me), sitting on the floor a lot and every two days I do a load of washing in a bucket. Life here in India is generally a lot more physical than New Zealand. The need to move around, bend over, squat… etc is mostly very good for me and my duffy hip.

At the end of week one, progress looks like:
– Sleeping without medication for the last 2 nights
– Slight increase of range of movement in the hip
– Walking mostly without pain on a good day
– Slight reduction in the need to take pain killers
– I’ve adjusted to the noise levels and my nervous system has calmed down, moving house has helped.

Other observations I’ve made in the last week:
– Sitting in a chair is the most problematic, I notice this at restaurants and I’m wondering why.
– I’ve come a long way in regards to how I think about the pain. I’m in a fairly accepting place with it. But I’m still wanting to be physically active again. I really miss the hard core yoga, mountain biking, gym, boxing and bush walking. This is something that I toy with a lot in my mind.

Here are some photos:

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My home away from home

I had a rough start to my trip as I was set up in temporary accommodation while something more permanent was found. The place I rented for 5 days was on a main road, was incredibly noisy and cost a lot of rupees. In fact, it cost me the same as what I am paying in my new place for the whole month! Anyway, I’m in my new place now and am very happy. It’s a tiny one bedroom studio with hot water and a lovely rooftop. It’s on the outskirts of Gookolum (a suburb in Mysore) and I pass cows, chickens, goats and the occasional group of monkeys on my way to class. It’s lovely. Here are some photos:

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A rocky start to my of yoga therapy

It’s crazy to think I’ve been here in India a week already, this month is going to fly by I can tell. I started the yoga therapy on Sunday, did two sessions but it wasn’t really working out. My teacher gave me my exercises to do and then instructed the class, he came back to check on me and then would give me my next set of exercises. This is how it worked last time and there was no issue. But it appears I’m in worse shape this year, I’m generally a lot weaker and by day 2 I was in a lot of pain after the class and my hip felt swollen and angry. Some of this caused my the exercises, most caused by an change to a more physical lifestyle. I’m doing lots more walking around on uneven footpaths/roads, doing my washing in a bucket and sleeping on an incredibly hard bed.

So I took Tuesday off and went to see my teacher instead. We had a really good discussion and he has said he’d like to teach me separately from the main class to give me the attention I need and to ensure I’m not distracted by what the others are doing. He is a very wise man and I think he sees that it breaks my heart to be in the class watching everyone else doing hard core yoga when I can do so little. It’s his busiest time of the year so I’m extremely grateful and touched that he has offered to extend his day to work with me. I think he sees the potential to really help me and appreciates my persistence towards the practice despite going through such a rough time with my health. For some reason, I just won’t let go of the yoga. It’s been well over a year since I’ve been able to practice it – but I keep trying to come back.

So starting fresh on Thursday, I’ll go to the yoga school in the evenings to work on my yoga. I’m under instructions to enjoy my holiday and rest well. I’ll have so much spare time I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with myself. Plenty of meditation, reading, sunbathing at the pool and the occasional day trip I think. I’m also considering trying to learn the harmonium. Usually my days in Mysore are action packed full of yoga classes, so it’s a bit unusual to have this time to myself – I’m keen to make the most of it.

I’m really looking forward to getting into the yoga and I’m feeling very very hopeful I’ll be able to make some solid steps forward in my rehabilitation.

I made it – but traveling with hip pain sucks

It’s been a big week and boy are my hips feeling it! A 4hr flight to Australia, 10hrs or so to Bangkok, several long car rides (plenty traffic jams), a 4hr flight to Bangalore and finally 3.5hr drive to Mysore. I left New Zealand on Monday morning and arrived in Mysore Thursday afternoon, spending 2 nights in taking Bangkok on one in Bangalore.

I love travelling and if I’m stuck with this hip pain, I need to learn how to work around it. My strategies for coping this long journey were:
1. Breaking the journey up as much as possible. This allowed me to rest and recover from the big flight before travelling in India. It also eased me into a new time zone. Part of me still agrees with this strategy, but another part wonders if it would have been better to do all the travel in one hit then manage the consequential flare up, rather than stretch the travel out and fight multiple smaller flare ups.
2. Always asking for the isle seat, this meant I could get up and move around on the plane. Having my problematic hip in the isle meant I could stretch the leg out.
3. Taking pain killers to make the journey tolerable. I hated wasting my emergency meds on plane travel, but it would have been absolutely hellish otherwise. Deciding when to take pain relief is tricky, I’ve learnt that sometimes (only sometimes) nipping the pain in the butt is best, especially when you can’t change what is triggering the pain.
4. Using ice/heat to ease the pain when the opportunity arises (ie, on arrival). For the last couple of days I’ve been using the tiger balm medicated heating pads, they have made a huge difference. These are particularly useful on the long flights or when I know I’ll have an active day. I’m finding the warmth on my skin really helps and it’s nice not to smell like a tiger balm factory!
5. Meditation. I’ve kept up the yoga nidra and it’s been great to help me stay relaxed and really calms my nervous system. This is important because the pain has been quite bad and India is so noisy. I also found doing guided meditations on the plane and before sleeping really useful.

So I have finally arrived in India, got a few essentials and had a wander around to get my bearings. The hip/sacrum has flared up but it is manageable and I expect it will settle in a couple of days if I take it easy. The left hip has started clicking and catching again which is very annoying, when it catches it’s very painful at the time but usually releases and settles within a minute or so. Knowing that the intense pain passes quickly makes me a lot more relaxed about it. My legs/hips are also feeling a good gym sore from all the walking around, this is good – even without the yoga I’m pretty sure I’d be going home fitter and stronger!

The one thing that is causing me the biggest problem is my over sensitivity to bright lights and noise. Unfortunately the place where I’m staying is on the main road and by golly is it noisy. Lots of autos, buses and motorbikes revving up the hill and beeping constantly. The constant abrasive noise is playing havoc with my nervous system and I’m unable to sleep even after taking sleeping meds! It is so bad I actually booked a hotel last night so I could give my system a break and get some sleep. My doctor infers I put too much importance around sleep, but the reality is without it I turn into a wreck! Anyways, needless to say I’m actively looking for a new place to stay for the month.

Here are some photos, including the lovely hotel I stayed in Bangalore my accommodation in Mysore is a lot more basic.

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First stop Bangkok

After a fairly hectic couple of weeks trying to get everything at work sorted, I finished up and am no officially on my 6.5 week holiday. Yes, I’m taking over 6 weeks off… I’m so excited and very much looking forward to the opportunity to reflect and hopefully take solid steps towards making a few more lifestyle changes. The main goal of this trip is to do a 4 yoga course and keep building on the gains I’ve made with the physiotherapy. I’m also going to eat well and try to start weaning of some of my pain medications.

Travel is a lot more difficult than it used to be because sitting is still so painful, but it’s totally worth it. I have always loved travelling and I’ve got so much more I want to do. So I have to find a way to manage. I think it’s the same as life in general, you just have to find a way to work with what you’ve got. For me I think it’s fairly simple, break up the journey, recognise your limits and rest when needed.

I’m in Bangkok for a couple of days then I’m off to India. I can’t wait, but I will admit I’m a little nervous too. Not so much about travelling to India, more the question of how will my body cope with the yoga and sensory overload that is India!

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