Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On the mend

I went to physical therapy with Donna on Wednesday and Friday and she did ultrasound and massage on my ankle. It always hurts worse when I leave than when I walked in, and I try to tell myself that's because things are moving around in there, trying to get better. No doubt there's a lot of old scar tissue, too.

But still. I'm irritated that the swelling hasn't gone down and it's been over a month since I busted it. Actually, I'm just irritated that I'm supposed to limit "excessive walking" and really any other activity I might enjoy doing.


I typed all of that more than two weeks ago, on December 15. I was frustrated. I also had a chest cold and cough that, unfortunately, continues. ’Tis (or was) the season, right?

The swelling continues. The only time I notice relief from it is after I massage the rock-hard area behind and below the lateral ankle bone (calcaneous) then elevate and ice it for an hour or so. Oh yeah, and when I've done a hot/stinky/sweaty yoga class.

I took three of them in November after I hurt it: one at Yoga to the People, one at Hot Yoga Saratoga, and one at Bikram Yoga La Jolla while I was home for Thanksgiving. It seems that those 26 postures get the fluids movin' on out of that joint. Unfortunately, finances and schedules and other things that I tell myself are important have gotten in the way of taking classes.

I'm still supposed to be in PT, but, speaking of finances, the office couldn't work out the same deal with me for the New Year, so I'm checking out—AMA, I suppose. Oh well, Donna got me up to working with the Theraband. When I hiked on Christmas and two days later, I wore the hulky ankle brace. Icing the ankle afterward seems to have helped; crisis has been averted.

My dear friend Judy was teaching New Year's Day at Hot Yoga Saratoga, so I headed up there...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


My triceps are sore from last night's chaturangas with Adi.

Various leg muscles are sore from walking with a purpose and not flipping my left foot around.

A few more weeks of sore muscles and I can assume there's some kind of progress, right? Maybe I'll buy a scale at that point.



It sounds silly, even to me, when I say that it's been hard to find a routine now that I'm working (at the magazine) Monday through Friday, 9-5 instead of (at the newspaper) Thursday though Monday, 5 (p.m.) to 1 (a.m.). Now, I'm gone from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Trying to fit something in before work still seems impossible, and trying to fit something other than dinner and dog-walking after work seems impossible. At least before, I had one solid chunk of time that I could get a lot done: Start coffee, do dishes, drink coffee and eat something while catching up on blogs and news, then yoga, then hike with Leo before going to work. the sleeping immediately upon returning home.

I miss my near-daily hikes with Leo... Which is a reminder that I should try to fit them in on weekends, while we can get out in the daylight.

However, I'm grounded. I went to physical therapy yesterday for the ankle I sprained a month ago. My therapist, Donna, has banned "excessive walking." I've been taking the subway from Grand Central to work every morning for the last month instead of savoring my 14-block walk. I actually like the walk. The cold was invigorating; the people-watching pretty good, too. So I'm supposed to keep up the ($$$) subway routine until further notice. if walking is out, hiking on uneven terrain most certainly is out as well.

My ankle was so sore after the physical therapy, and my ego was bruised too... It's so silly, feeling like a therapist's words are some kind of personal attack when they really aren't. Of course, there are probably therapists who are mean and judgmental. But Donna isn't one of them. After evaluating my gait, she said I whipped my left foot around a weird way as I walked. Then she noticed that just standing still, feet close together, I weight my right side more. (That may have something to do with issues in my left hip, too. Ohhhh, the issues in my tissues.)

As she was explaining these things to me, my eyes welled up and I got emotional... I felt like they were faults of mine, personal failings. I wanted to apologize. I'm sorry I can't walk right and it offends you! It offends me, too! It's so, so incredibly silly, but maybe it's this way for lots of people who are so body-identified. My mind and my body are inseparable, to me... Reflecting now, I think it rubbed raw some of the other personal failings I'd felt, like, if I'd just stayed in shape, this sprain wouldn't have happened. Like I should have been able to prevent this, or fix it on my own.

She explained gait to me, in really simple terms. Heel-toe. Repeat. No weird left-foot-whipping flourishes. Got it? So this is quite the exercise in mindfulness. I have to relearn how to walk. I have been trying to pay attention to every single step. It's so strange. And then just standing still, trying to weight both sides equally? I can honestly say that even in those 15 years of ballet, I have never considered this.

I was going stir crazy yesterday, and wrote this:
I want to get away to a healing, warm, preferably sandy place. As that's not in the cards now, i need to create a space that is safe, nurturing, healing, restorative in my own home. I can do this in the living room... with diligent attendance to the daily filing and accumulation of the paraphernalia of life (read: junk mail and bills). You have to start somewhere... It doesn't have to be a daily Bikram practice right now.
What I need to do to restore:
• eat small amounts of nourishing food
• do the yoga (start with a half-hour and go from there. both morning and night preferably to figure out which works better for a longer practice. to get pm done, take leo for a half-hour walk first.)

So last night, I did a half-hour video on the blog section of YogaToday, and it was OK. I always like that teacher, Adi, because she's intense while keeping a light attitude. The ankle is sore today, but I think that's as much from the ultrasound and massage as it is from the yoga. I should be icing...

I think just getting into a routine will help me feel better about myself, in general. Grounding postures should help with the right/left disparities. Balancing postures should help with strengthening all the little intrinsic muscles in my feet and ankles. It's interesting, trying to restart a regular practice while knowing I'm supposed to take it easy. Is this the only way I can give myself "permission" to ease into things, and have compassion for myself?

This post at Elephant Journal popped up today in my Facebook feed, and I love its message... And from that, I was led to this, at the Kripalu site:
Cyndi Lee, founder of OM Yoga and a practitioner of both hatha yoga and Tibetan Buddhism, doesn’t fight her resistance to a regular practice—instead she takes it to the mat.
"My obstacles to yoga are an inconsistent schedule, fatigue, and laziness. I work on those day by day. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t. Remembering that yoga helps lift my energy is the antidote. So then I just get down on the floor along with my resistance, take a deep breath, and start my practice."

If even the pros can have off days and obstacles, I should give myself permission to, too... Once I acknowledge the difficulties, though, I should follow Lee's lead and "just get down on the floor."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Back to the mat

I used to have a kickass yoga practice.

During one of the hardest and most confusing periods of my life, I'd get up early most mornings and drive a few minutes down the road to this studio, what I had come to think of as my studio, and ease into my day with deep breathing, intense stretching, and heavy sweating. In August 2007, I completed 30 classes in 30 days, and had never felt better about myself.

In May 2008, I moved to upstate New York. The middle of nowhere, it seemed to me at the time. Although the space and quiet were likely good for my head, I desperately missed having a convenient studio. I practiced the Bikram series on my own, intermittently. I did a Rodney Yee video or two, but was unfulfilled. I went to one class at one of the closest studios, Satya Yoga, in Rhinebeck, and could justify neither the half-hour drive there nor the expense for class (I had been on a work-study trade program back in Utah).

In November of that year, I had moved into a new apartment with a fabulous guy and my crazy dog. I planned for days to go to a Bikram class on Thanksgiving at the nearest studio—45 minutes away. Despite some food poisoning the night before, I showed up with a happy, smiling face at 9 a.m. Despite not being in a hot room for more than six months, it was one of the best classes of my life. I dedicated that class to my teachers in Utah: Jackie, Alex, Julie, McKell, Sarah, Andrea, Rebecca, Lisa, Terese, both Brandys, Julia, Jamie, and my superduper good friend, Judy. Without that studio offering me a safe place to work through "the issues in my tissues," I'd never have made it to New York.

I went back to the Yorktown studio for one class, and the teacher had just returned from being certified at training in Acapulco. There, she met Marc, a man I had practiced with and become friends with in Utah. It was so cool to have this connection to a place that had so unexpectedly become "home." Again, though, I couldn't handle the long drive and big fee for classes.

I went a couple of times here, the nearest "hot yoga" studio, and it was okay, but I just wanted to find a really good, hot, Bikram class, for a good price, with cool people. Picky, picky me.

I read about Yoga Today in some healthy-women's magazine, or maybe I feel down the rabbit hole that is the internet and clicked through 17 sites to get to it. At the time, the site offered a rotating library of 10 to 15 free, hourlong yoga classes from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The classes really resonated with me because they're taught by real people, with real students, and they goof a little bit and make corrections, and there's audio problems sometimes, and they take it all in stride. The hyperproduced Gaiam videos, although in beautiful settings with ostensibly calming music, never really worked for me. These free classes, with entertaining people, were so engaging that I got back into a semiregular practice through the Springs and Summer of ’09.

Then I got a job (my dream job, really) that keeps me out of the house from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. I'm still trying to negotiate a routine.