I have a problem with consistency and follow-thru. I am really working on this but it has been an issue for a long time so I don’t expect it to go away easily. I bring this up because I realized that I have been doing yoga pretty consistently now for about 8 months or more.
When I first thought about it I thought I was going on 4 or 5 months and even with that, I hadn’t been real consistent. It dawned on me though that I don’t have to be in a studio for it to count and I didn’t actually even have to be a member of a studio for it to count. Before I started really trying to do yoga in a studio I was sort of doing a little here at home. It wasn’t what most people would think of as yoga. I did it in bed. Getting up and down off of the floor was really difficult for me and I have a lot of pain issues so before I would get out of bed in the morning I would stretch. As I have been learning yoga, especially this past 2 weeks, I realize that what I was doing counted and was important.
To let you know how significant this is, I am going to tell you some of my physical history. I probably have covered this other places in the blog but I am going to talk about it again here because it is important to put things in context and it allows me to give some good examples.
I have always had bad knees and a bad back. I had torn cartalige, a torn ligament in my left knee and by the time I was 30 I needed a knee replacement in my left knee. I had a couple of orthoscopic surgeries and they helped some but not for very long. I walked with a limp and was not nearly as active as I wish I would have been. This made me put on a lot of weight and that, taken with my odd gait, put pressure on my other knee and when I was 40 I was told I needed a knee replacement on my right knee too. My doctor told me I had to be 50 before they would consider doing that surgery though because they last around 10 years and the next time they have to do it, it is a lot harder. This situation got so bad thought that when I was 44 we had no choice but to do knee replacements on both knees. I have also had whiplash and I have some pretty significant spinal degeneration.
I also have fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and weakness. I was also having other stuff that I am finding out now is all connected. Plantar fasciaitis is inflammation of the fascia of the feet. It is extremely painful and makes it difficult to even let your foot touch the floor. Along with that, I saw that my doctor had written that I had “claw toe”. I had no idea what that was but I realized when I looked at my toes they were curling and odd looking and that my toes were getting a lot closer together.
My hands were also doing weird things. I would wake up with my hands clenched extremely hard. Then I noticed that it wasn’t just when I woke up but that my hands were often tightly gripped. If I really focused I could sort of relax them for a moment but they almost immediately tensed again. This same thing happened in my low back. I was having back spasms so bad that it felt like my tailbone was being pulled toward my shoulders. This was especially noticeable when I was lying down. There was also a lot of neck spasticity and I often had bad pain issues with my neck. Simple tasks became hard for me like cleaning the catbox or cooking. The slight head tilt when cooking would cause extreme spasms and pain.
My shoulders were tight and hurt and at one point I was having a hard time getting shirts on and off. I used to be a nurse so seeing patients that needed help with activities of daily living was something I was familiar with… and so was seeing contractures. Contractures are a condition of shortening and hardening of muscles, tendons, or other tissue, often leading to deformity and rigidity of joints. While I was familiar with these conditions I was also used to seeing them in frail elderly people or extremely injured people that couldn’t move much. The point of all of this rambling? My body has hurt, its hurt bad and hurt for a long time.
Yoga is helping with all of these things. I had been noticing things. A little here, a little there. The first thing I noticed was that I can stand up now just using my leg strength. I always push up on the arm of chairs to help me up and I noticed I am not doing that. This sounds like a small thing but was huge for me.
Yesterday I really realized how much this is helping when I saw that my toes are no longer curling in the bizarre way that they had been. I didn’t have much movement in my feet at all. I couldn’t separate my toes and my feet were pulled at an odd angle to the inside of my body. Now my feet are straighter and my toes aren’t curling as much AND I can separate them all now. Because of the curled toes, they rubbed the top of my shoes and caused blisters which made it hard for me to wear shoes.
I noticed all of this because in the classes I am taking now, we pay a lot of attention to our feet. We have to make sure that our weight is balanced on the foot, that we spread our toes our and we have to flex our toes. Alignment is stressed and even though it has been less than 2 weeks, I am seeing a difference. I also realized that my neck hasn’t been spasming to the same degree that it was and I don’t wake up with my tailbone being pulled and my hands aren’t in a tight spasm when I wake up either. I also think my posture is a bit better. It still has a long way to go but better is better.
At first I thought that this studio that I am going to is working miracles and it really actually is I think but this is all the cumulative effect of months of work, a lot of which took place (and on bad days still takes place) in bed. I didn’t think much about my little bed yoga practice other than to think I hurt and had to move.
The first thing I did to start this was cat/cow moves to try to alleviate some of my back pain. Usually I did it in bed but sometimes it was just bent over the bed or my kitchen table. Then I would lay on my back and just raise one leg and stretch it straight up and then bend at the knee. Because of the knee replacements I couldn’t bend much at first. When I stood up and tried to bend my knee and raise my foot to the back i could only raise my foot about an inch from the ground. Now my knee is much more flexible but I still need to work on strength.
I am making this post to tell people that big changes start from little changes. I am still extremely overweight. I still have fibromyalgia and other crap but I am seeing more and more how much we can affect our own health and even when we can’t improve certain things about it-we can work on acceptance and loving ourselves as we are… where we are in our process.