A very cool thing happened in yoga practice today. A student who is studying physical therapy and has worked with our teacher often was able to attend. The summer group has been very small and today’s class was chattier than usual. The teacher, Mimi, asked the physical therapist, Caroline, to name the major muscles we stretched in certain poses. As we rolled up our mats I asked more questions. This connection opened my eyes.
All afternoon I was, and even now I am, filled with a new energy. When I told my husband about it — right after class because I was so excited — I told him I felt like I got some hope back. I have a reason to feel like my recovery will not stop where I am today. I will be able to keep moving forward.
I now understand that it is my psoas major muscle on each side that causes me the most trouble when the weather flares up, followed by the adductors (brevis and longus). But the cool part is, now that I know their names I can learn about them, and ways to loosen them up.
I’m excited because I’m betting if I can get those muscles stretched and loose on a regular basis than the stiffness on a bad day would be less severe because they would be starting from a more relaxed play. It stands to reason that right now they are stiff on my best days, which means when it gets worse it effects my ability to move. Certainly I am not an expert. But I am good at digging up information. I’m starting with Yoga Journal. Their website’s search function was like a gift from the universe tonight. In just a few keystrokes I found articles on the Psoas, the Piriformis and some information written for yoga teachers about using yoga to help relieve chronic pain. I’ll use the weeks before my fall class begins to learn as much as I can — and put as much as I can into practice each day.
I have an anatomy book. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier. During physical therapy we talked about how my lower abs had basically shut off and I had to wake them up, but I didn’t ask for more specifics. What I was doing then was what I could handle. Now, I’m ready to focus on these specific muscles. I guess I just answered my own question.
Mimi and Caroline are planning a workshop for sometime in September that will focus on the psoas and the piriformis. I will make sure I am there. I need to take charge of my destiny. I have been practicing yoga twice a week since January and I know it has made a remarkable difference for me. There have been days that knowing it is a “yoga day” has gotten me out of bed. And even when I’m feeling pretty good, yoga makes me feel better. I can sit longer and longer, I can breathe better, and I have been able to stop a panic attack from escalating by using what I have learned so far. But I have only done yoga outside of that class setting a handful of times. I’m going to use what I have learned and continue to learn to bring a bit of yoga into each day. It may help me sleep better, it will make me feel stronger and more confident in my ability to trust my body and it will ensure that I am spending quality time on my healing each day.
I feel like today I finally felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be — in that room on that mat. I’m going to do something with that feeling right now. I’ve never practiced twice in one day before, but there’s a first time for everything.