30 Days of Yoga – Day 2: Being ok with imperfection

This morning my yoga practice happened in a spare 30min before going on a big flight. I was in my dad’s living room and I really enjoyed the heat of Thailand. My body loves the heat and it’s always easier for me to practice in a warm climate. My sacrum/lower back has been playing up and I’ve been getting nerve pain around the back of my pelvis and down my legs. This has happened before, so no cause of alarm. It usually settles in a few days and I have a few yoga postures I know help. So today, instead of doing the yoga practice from the online course, I chose to do my own thing. I am at a stage with my yoga that I can make stuff up and feel ok about doing that. During the practice feelings bubbled up around acceptance of imperfection. Imperfection in my body (the fatigue, chronic pain and ongoing injuries) and imperfection in my life.

There are a few things about my imperfect life that I need to accept, but there are some things that I can’t accept and that’s around my physical body. After years of chronic pain I’m STILL trying to regain fitness and strength. This is for two reasons, one I’ll feel better about myself and two, I really need to be stronger/fitter to have a life where I don’t need to worry about these silly little annoying injuries. I really want to be physically fit again. I think I’m at a speed bump and I need a little effort to get past it.

So today, it was a nice yoga practice and I’m looking forward to next week. I’m heading back to London today and will be doing my yoga practice in my own home. I’ve got a lovely space and feel very committed to the 30 days. I expect it will be a mix of going to classes and practicing at home. I’d like to integrate daily meditation into my practice too. I don’t mind what I end up doing, as long as I roll out the mat, check in with myself and spend some time on the mat.

I must say, I love the online course. I’m working through the booklet and it feels like Marianne is practicing alongside me. Her guidance and words of wisdom are definitely going to help me throughout the 30 days. There is also a Facebook group (closed group) that is there for support and encouragement.  

 

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30 Days of Yoga – setting the intention

I started yoga in December 2008 while travelling India. I was on a 4-5 month trip around Nepal and India and thought ‘while I’m in india I might as well try yoga’. So I googled and google led me to Vinay Kumar of Prana Vashya Yoga. I turned up to his small shala (yoga school) naively believing that yoga was simply a form of exercise. His intensive course is rather intensive and I learnt that yoga is so much more. I was hooked, a year later I went back to do the intensive but while preparing for the trip I injured my hip at the gym. I know that yoga is partially to blame for my hip injury. As is the gym. I was doing a deep squat with 20kg on my back and ‘ping’ – I tore ligamentum teres the ligament right at the top of the femur. Ouch.

I have learnt the hard way that too much flexibility can be a bad thing. I’ve learnt that some of my joints are hyper-mobile and this means yoga comes easily to me. It also means I can injure my joints easily, hence the sore ankles, knee, sacrum, shoulder and neck. I’ve learnt that I need to use my muscles to stabilise my joints. So good muscle tone is important and regular massage is necessary.

For almost 5 years I couldn’t attend classes without really flaring up my hip pain. Since I arrived in London I’ve managed to return to yoga asana (postures) slowly and carefully. I’d say it was a year after my 2nd surgery that I started to feel ‘normal’ in class and stopped needing to modify the class to suit the hip. I am learning to ‘pull back’ a little when I’m doing yoga to avoid over stretching my ligaments.

Because of the hyper-mobility I have had to learn to create new good habits and focus on using the right muscles, this is really hard and takes a lot of concentration. It is very easy for me to cheat in a yoga class and use my flexibility to make pretty shapes! Iyengar yoga has been great for learning good technique and my yoga teacher Lorraine from Art of Yoga has been helping me build a strong foundation for my yoga practice. Iyengar yoga is very traditional and involves holding the postures for a longer time than most other types of yoga, there is also a focus on correct alignment and not much flow. I think its a great choice for people with injuries or chronic pain.

After months of Iyengar yoga my physiotherapist told me I now need to challenge my joints and that a flowing yoga practice (vinyasa) would be good for me. I was very happy to hear this as my old yoga practice was flowing and my body loves to move. So for the last few months I have been experimenting with various classes in London and to be honest I have been horrified with what I’m finding and am struggling to find a teacher I can work with. Yoga in the west appears to be interpretive and I feel the teachings from India are getting so diluted, sometimes what is called yoga is not actually yoga.

In a way, not finding a second London teacher is good as it is encouraging me to work on my home practice. After a few weeks of trying to do my own home practice with mixed results, I’ve signed up for Marianne Elliott’s 30 days of yoga. Marianne was one of my favourite teachers in Wellington back in 2009/2010. She is an inspirational woman (check out her website) and her online yoga course has elements of movement, flow, kindness and mindfulness. Just what I’m looking for.

I’ve signed up for her ‘Energising and opening flow’ as my injuries are relatively minor and I feel ready for this type of practice. She has included a restorative class for the days when I’m not up for a strong practice.

My intention for the next 30 days is simply to turn up to the mat, check in and listen to my body. Then I will practice with ease and joy. My intention is to enjoy the yoga, have fun and let go a little. I will use this blog to journal my progress.  Wish me luck!

  

When will the story end?

I’ve been thinking about this blog and what to do with it now that I’ve fixed my hip and am theoretically living happily ever after. Do I stop writing? Or shall I continue? It’s been 18 months since surgery and the hip is doing brilliantly, it plays up maybe once a month for very short periods of time. Most of the time though my operated hip is better than my ‘good hip’.

I thought about stopping the blog but the truth is I’ve not fully recovered. I’m still very unfit and my muscles still lack tone which means that other joints still play up and I’m still in physio for my ankle, knee and shoulder. I don’t have my physical yoga practice back (asana) and, most importantly, I’m still in a process of finding myself. I’m not the 27 year old I was before my hip problems started, I am not a disabled person anymore (thank goodness)… but if I’m not the person I was before my hip problems – who am I now?

I remember putting off starting this blog for a long time because I was superstitious, I thought that if I wrote about what was going on, then my hip problems would stay with me. I think I’ve stopped writing for a similar reason.  But I have found that writing is very helpful over the years. It has been a good way to express what is going on and I hope that it has helped some of the people who are reading it too.

So after much thought I have decided to keep writing for now. My goal in the next 6-12 months is to get my healthy body back, work out who I am post hip surgery and to regain my physical yoga practice. Hopefully, with a bit of luck, hard work and determination then that will be the end of the story!

Hello “Hello Fresh”

In an attempt to streamline my life, reduce stress levels & ensure I eat well I’ve signed up for Hello Fresh. Each Sunday a box of food will be delivered to my doorstep with three recipes. Everything I need to prepare the three meals is in the box. I’m really excited about this as I’m a little bored of cooking the same food each week. I am really looking forward to trying new vegetarian recipes. 

   

    
 

I am OK

A lot has happened since my last post “Are you OK” and the good news is that I am now OK. I’ve caused a lot of worry to friends and family, but I’m doing OK now. And very grateful for the support of family & friends.

I can always tell when I’m struggling as I stop writing. To be honest, I stopped writing this blog mostly because I’ve been doing really well. The recovery from hip surgery is a distant memory and I’m enjoying a more active lifestyle. I still have joint pain due to the hyper-mobility but it is very mild compared to what I’ve been through in recent years.  Life is actually pretty good. Winter has been tough though and I don’t think the UK climate is good for me, I can feel it in my joints.

My work-life balance hasn’t been good either and I think I underestimated how stressful it is to settle in London.  I’ve not yet made friends outside of work, and in recent months work has taken over. Something I’ve addressed now and 2016 looks to be an exciting year for me. This year I’m focusing on the yoga (of course), writing & music. I hope that if I do the things I enjoy, I’ll make friends and my social circle in London will grow.

 

Are you OK?

All I wanted was for someone to ask “are you ok?”

A question that in the past has triggered a lot of tears. In fact I can think of only one person who has asked me that question and really meant it.

I ask myself now… “Am I OK?”

If I am truthful… the answer is no. I am not OK.

But I’ve shed so many tears in the last few weeks, my eyes are dry. There is a drought, the ground is dry beneath my feet. It is hot & sunny. I have run out of tears. All I have is fears & love.

I joined the gym!

I joined the gym. Horray another sign of the return to normality. It’s an incredibly expensive gym, but it has a pool and yoga classes so I’ll get my money’s worth. Yoga classes here in the UK are a good £16 each! 

The gym is close to work and I’ve arranged to get a locker so I won’t have to lug my stuff around London. Being so close to work there is no excuses, and it’ll save me from staying late at work to avoid the tube-smoosh.  

I’m struggling to do my physio exercises so the plan is to focus on strengthening at the gym. I’ll start with yoga and Aqua classes, then build it up from there. The gym has an amazing selection of classes including spin, boxing, hula hoop and ballet fit!