My month of yoga therapy comes to an end

My month of yoga therapy in Mysore is over. It’s not been easy and it didn’t end up being the magic cure I’d hoped it would be, but it was hugely beneficial. I feel like my battery has been recharged, I’ve met some lovely people, I’ve got a tan, I’m sleeping better and am physically much stronger now. I can feel muscles waking up all over my body which is great. My pain levels haven’t shifted much, which is disappointing, but given the amount of physical activity I’ve done it’s not bad at all. I had a few flare ups along the way but I managed these and they didn’t affect my holiday (or the yoga) too much.

I’ve now got a simple yoga practice I can do at home for one month and then I’ll need to start working with a yoga teacher at home. My home practice is a continuation of the strengthening sequence I did in Mysore, it’s going to be a challenge to find the time but I HAVE to do it! I’ve seen and felt the improvements from one month, so that will spur me on to do a second month. I’ve come this far, can’t give up. Walking is still an issue so my other goal is to swim 2-3 times a week. This will help with my cardio fitness, the weight loss and justify my gym membership. If I don’t start using that gym, the membership has to go.

What’s next… Well, a few days on a beach in Thailand to finish the tan and eat seafood. After that it’s back to reality and back to work. I’ve got 2 weeks left of my rehab program with the physiotherapist and an appointment with my surgeon. I’ll get a second opinion on whatever he says and then will make a decision. I’ll either have the surgery (if it’s recommended) or I’ll put the question about surgery behind me and get on with living my life with chronic pain. Both paths are a bit shitty but at least I can see a way through this mess. I’m looking forward to putting the seemingly endless medical appointments behind me and getting on with living my life.

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New moon, new attitude

After battling with myself (and in a way, my teacher) for almost 4 weeks it came to a head. I stayed after class and had a good discussion with my teacher, we both said our piece and cleared the air. I feel a bit bad because I don’t think it’s the Indian way to challenge your teacher, but I was respectful and the conversation really needed to happen. I highly respect my teacher, he introduced yoga to my life and has taught me so much over the years. So after our talk I decided “new moon, new attitude”and have been going to class with a much more positive attitude, accepting that “boring-asana” is what I need right now. Since then, there have been no more tears on the mat and I’m feeling so much lighter. It is a shame I wasted so much time being angry and frustrated with myself. Oh well, such is life with chronic pain.

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Yoga Therapy: End of week 4 – reflections

Another week has past and I’m getting close to ending my stay in Mysore. I’m going to extend the course by a few more days and finish up next Thursday. Then on Friday I’ll travel back to Bangkok to see my family before returning to New Zealand.

This week has brought tears of frustration, a little bit of anger, confusion, a discussion with my teacher and finally the calm after the storm. I’ve come to accept where I am with my yoga and my rehabilitation. I still hate “boring-asana” and a few of the rehabilitative exercises I have to do, but I’m enjoying some of the more challenging postures. I’m also pleased to report I’m getting some muscles in my arms, back and feet. I’m sure the rest of me is being strengthened too.

With only a handful of days left I am wondering what my home practice will look like. I suspect it will be very similar to what I’m doing now and am preparing myself for that. What will be, will be. I’m trying to remember that hard lesson I had about expectations and try to keep mine fairly low. My teacher knows his stuff and I need to follow through with the home practice he gives me or I’ll never be able to return to Mysore again!

Health wise I’ve noticed a few small changes this week. The hip pain itself is still there and doesn’t feel like it’s changed much, sitting is still the worst and standing and walking aren’t easy either. The new swelling I had for a good 10 days has resolved itself thankfully which means sleeping is a little easier. I have noticed my pelvis feels less tilted and I’m much stronger in my feet. The nerve pain in my thigh has reduced somewhat, but the hip joint has started clicking again. The other piece of good news is that I’ve slept the last few nights without medication.

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Yoga Therapy: End of week 3 – reflections

I can’t believe another week has passed and I’ve only got one more left. I really wish I could stay longer as I feel I’m just getting started. I’ve made some progress but it is very obvious I have a long way to go.

This week has had some highs and lows. It’s been quite painful and the swelling on the side of my leg is still a problem. We are being very careful with the yoga so I’m pretty sure it’s caused by an increase in activity and is more likely to be related to walking around Mysore too much, insufficient rest and doing my washing ala bucket. I have been able to ice it which has really helped, I also released some trigger points using my trusty spiky ball and foam roller. With a bit more resting and a little less sitting in restaurants/cafés I think it will come right.

In the last I’ve had a couple of days I’ve had some disappointing realisations. Firstly, I don’t think yoga can cure my hip problems and I’m doubtful it can reduce my pain levels by much. But it certainly makes me feel better – it’s so nice doing something other than physiotherapy, even if a lot of what I’m doing is pretty much physiotherapy exercises with better integration of the breath! I think I’ve done physiotherapy and alternative therapies to death, I’m starting to realise the harsh reality is that I’m probably stuck with this pain. I know I should be more hopeful and optimistic, but I am really struggling to see a path forward here given how much effort I’ve put into getting this far.

I’ve had a harsh lesson in expectations this week too. I really thought I could come here and get to a point of returning to yoga classes in New Zealand, or at least be able to do sun salutations so I can have a nice flowing practice at home. Alas, it’s clear I’ve still got a long way to go. My practice at the moment is very basic – no twists, no stretching, no fun and a lot of basic strengthening exercises. It’s clearly what I need, but it’s humbling and feels like Groundhog Day – I’m stuck in a cycle of starting from scratch with my rehabilitation! :-/

So I have one week left, a few of my friends are leaving this week so I think it will be a lot quieter and more restful. I think this is a good thing. I have been enjoying my holiday so rest hasn’t really been my top priority.

Yoga yoga everywhere

Yoga yoga everywhere… I’m kind of over it! I’m staying in a different part of Mysore this year and it’s where all the yoga schools are, consequently where all the yoga students are. Mysore attracts a certain type of yoga student and the high number of students in one suburb (at least 1,000) creates a slightly weird vibe. Almost all of the conversations around me seem to be yoga centric, there are a few weirdos around and a lot of people who take their yoga oooh so seriously. I much preferred the location of where my school used to be, it was in a quiet suburb with a much smaller number of yoga students who were laid back and happy to integrate into the relaxed local lifestyle. But, alas, things change and I need to adapt accordingly. I think next time I’ll get a place with a kitchen so I don’t have to eat out all the time. That will make a big difference.

In hip related news, the ice calmed down that flare up nicely and I’m back to normal levels of pain, I still can’t lie on my left side but the swelling has reduced significantly. Phew.

Yoga wise… I had a wee hissy fit the other day, cried for the first time in ages but am feeling a lot better now. Being here in Mysore and unable to do my old yoga practice is like salt in the wounds… it is painful but also healing. I’ve got less than 2weeks left, so I need to focus my energy on staying positive, looking forward (not in the past) and getting the most out of my time here. Now that I’ve shed my tears and dropped some of the angry feelings my yoga practice is improving. Go figure! It’s starting to look a lot less like physiotherapy and more like a yoga asana practice. Yay.

Here is a photo of a pranic coffee (nuts, almond milk, banana and coffee) and the pool. Life here is pretty good.

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Ah, thank goodness – ice.

I’ve found a few freezers where I can get ice, phew. I’ve got a bottle of water freezing at a local shop and the people from a cafe I go to have been giving me ice cubes. I’ve iced my thigh and it feels soooo nice. Still painful, but not as hot and swollen. Goodness knows what’s going on, I will have to go with it and trust things will be ok.

I decided to go to yoga tonight but will take it very very easy. I was going to skip class but I think I’ll feel bad if I do. I had a bit of a cry today as I’m feeling a bit worn down and frustrated by my hip. I’ve been holding back the tears all week and it feels good to let some out. I am definitely battling with myself too much, perhaps I need to start my chronic pain meditations again.

On a brighter note, did some good shopping today and have started reading the alchemist – I’m feeling a few days of R&R at the pool are in order. 🙂

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Confusing matters by seeing an Ayurvedic doctor

Agh… I told myself I wouldn’t confuse matters by going to see an Ayurvedic doctor yet somehow I ended up seeing one. Yesterday my thigh had the swollen lump and my hip was really sore. I don’t have access to ice so I went back to the Ayurvedic pharmacy to try and get the natural anti-inflammatories I saw that have Boswella in them. Boswella is a herb I’ve tried before that I think had an effect (it’s hard to tell sometimes). I tried to explain to the guy behind the counter what I wanted and he told me to see the doctor for a consultation. A hundred rupees later ($2nzd) she had written a script for various natural concoctions. Including, a bone density grower, arthritis care tablets, some sort of bitter syrup to help with side effects of my other meds and some oil for pain relief. I spent $15nzd all up and didn’t get the Boswella.

Agh! I said I wouldn’t do this. I’m really regretting not being able to pick up the stuff my naturopath had recommended (cost was a big factor). I really trust her judgement and know she has a good understanding of the big picture. I do believe in natural remedies, but I like to know what I’m taking and have confidence in the quality of what I’m taking. The problem in New Zealand is that it’s so costly.

While a big part of me wants to take these Ayurvedic meds, my hesitation is that I want to stick to my ‘one new treatment rule’ so I can tell what effect the yoga is having. I really don’t know what any of these herbs are, I don’t know how ‘clean’ they are, the doctor wasn’t recommended to me, I won’t be able to get more from NZ and taking them for a short time seems pointless. I already take a lot of pills and I seem to be allergic to A LOT of things. I think it’s too risky and I don’t want to mess with a treatment plan that has me in a stable condition. As you can see I’ve talked myself out of taking the various concoctions, I might use the oil though.

I wish I knew what the swelling in my leg is, I’ve had this swollen lump it after massages in the past but never from exercises or walking. Today’s mission is to rest more (less walking, might skip yoga) and try to find some ice packs. While I don’t have a freezer, hopefully the cafe I go to regularly does. The swelling thigh pain is unpleasant but not unbearable, fingers crossed it will settle soon.

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