Hello November! I wasn’t actually sure whether to add today to the diary since my practice was really just me rolling around trying to give my hips any space but I figure (1) it’s my diary, it counts if I want it to haha and (2) I did roll out my mat and start with child’s and end with savasana so a practice it was even if it was short. And this is one thing I really did want to add to my diary: yoga is what you make it. Yoga can be a sweaty (or not) studio class, it can be an online anywhere class, it can be on your mat or on the grass or just you sitting in stillness. I’m not going to define yoga here because that’s a topic that deserves so much more thought, but right now, at least part of yoga is moving yourself in a way that brings you peace. So about today. Yesterday I ran 10.56 miles (ahhhh!!!). It’s hard to believe 8 years after reconstructive knee surgery I can even think about running let alone be three weeks out from a half marathon (and I attribute this fully to God’s love and faithfulness and unbelievable healing because by all accounts, this shouldn’t be happening), but it’s true. As much as my knees are in actually strangely good shape, my hips are in dying agony. SO! I rolled around on my mat doing every single version of juicy hip work I could think of (all the pigeons, except the flying ones!), giving my sore, aching, hips what little space I could. It really helped and I promise coming soon is going to be the long runner’s hip tonic!
Breakthrough alert! Finally got the transition from Astavakrasana (8 angle pose) to Eka Pada Koudinyasana 2! It’s not even close to graceful but I can make it through! For me, I’ve practiced both these poses for a long time now but the connection dropped (literally) trying to get my foot under and through. Today we were encouraged to play with it and I tried something new. Rather than smoothly floating through, I tried pausing in the middle for half an inhale then continuing to shoot my foot back. This one little moment of refocusing away from the postures to the simple act of “just shoot your leg back” gave me the strength I needed in my core to make it. Also important in this transition is leaning your chest forward. The balance shifts from a more verticle 8 angle to a more horizontal eka pada, so you need to lean forward just a bit to counter the weight of your extended pack leg.
So in conclusion: pause, breath, lean, and shoot! Give it a try and let me know if this helps!
In other flying news, my Koudinyasana 1 is feeling stronger and stronger. I wrote more about this and yoga, running, and my knees in general in my 60 days of yoga project on Instagram @KatieTraufferYoga so check out that progress and the daily pictures over there!
Ah New Jersey Teacher’s Convention, you are my favorite time of year. Growing up my Dad (a high school English teacher) used this time to take me to Disney every year. While having a 4 day weekend isn’t quite as magical, I’ll still take it gratefully! So actually this wasn’t a 4 day weekend, it was a normal weekend and working at home 2 days BUT it still meant I was able to go to the 7:15 PM class rather than the 6:00 AM class! Tonight almost didn’t happen, though. I read my schedule wrong and thought there was a 6 PM class; as I learned rolling in the door at 5:55, it was a 5:45 class. Rather than go home and mope, I went on a coffee date with the hubby and hung around for the later session. Today was a tribute to Natarajasana so we practiced standing, side planking, even laying down with the intention of shifting perspectives. My back is hyperflexible, a blessing and a curse. It means that I have a bit of a liquid spine, but it also makes it hard to build the strength needed to support that. You would think someone who can easily touch their toes to their head in pincha would love a backbendy class but truthfully they’re the hardest for me because I both want to bend as far as I know I can, but I also need to respect what’s good for my spine. Just because I can bend doesn’t mean I should and that’s both a difficult and a good exercise for me to practice. It’s easy to practice the things we love, but it’s practicing in the places where we find resistance emotionally or physically that make us grow.
Ah yin, you are so simple yet so challenging. One of the joys of power vinyassa is getting out of my head, giving over to my body.Yin in theory should be great for letting go but for me all that stillness and silence makes it harder to get out of my head. My husband says I’m just not good at relaxing and it’s hard when we live in a world that, maybe even rightly so, glorifies hard working productivity, but I think there is still value in being able to shut all that off and reboot so I’m working on it.
I have to be honest, I’m writing this post in retrospect sitting on my couch two days later barely functional. Somewhere between Thursday and Friday, between all that backbending Thursday and all that deep hip work Friday I hurt my right hip. We don’t know how bad it is but we know we have to take it seriously. Any activity is painful, not overwhelmingly so, but last year my younger sister got an avulsion fracture (chipped bone) because of her hip flexor and and the half marathon is just too close to take any chances. For now I’m resting and taking some of that relaxing time I’m not so good at and praying this will pass, that I can get enough rest before the race to be okay. There might not be any yoga updates for a few days, I certainly don’t expect to be in classes this week, but I will keep you posted however I can.
November 7-20: Injury and My New Yoga
Yoga diary, it’s been a while, but I promise it hasn’t been a long time since I rolled out my mat! On Saturday the 7 I hurt my hip, it was actually pain that had been building for a while, particularly after running, but it became un-ignorable (is that real? now it is!) on Saturday. I tried resting it completely for a few days but as soon as I got up to do anything it would start again. I saw an orthopedic who diagnosed it as a hip labrum tear and sent me to get an MRA to confirm. I’m having that done on Monday and seeing the surgeon Tuesday. We’re really praying that (1) the test shows the tear and that (2) the surgeon can get me in the week after Thanksgiving to fix it. I’ve been unable to drive (aka get to work), to sit in a chair for more than 15 minutes, or to walk more than around the apartment (I made that terrible mistake yesterday trying to go get coffee and was in pain all night and this morning for it!). I’ll be honest, this has been hard on me. I was supposed to be running a half marathon, a miracle half marathon with my knees, on Sunday and that was quickly out of the picture. Aside from not being able to go to work (and thank goodness I’ve been able to work from home!), we’ve been planning this big trip to Disney for Christmas (using all our DVC points for 2 years, waahhhh) and the surgery would vastly improve my ability to enjoy the trip (let alone sit on the airplane!).
What does all this have to do with yoga? Everything.
I’m a power yoga girl, an inverting, binding, drenched in sweat kind of yogi and with this injury, I had two options: change my practice or stop practicing. In the past, I would have stopped, I would have just been sad about my race, sad about my practice, sad about my limitations. This time is different, though, because I picked option one, I’m still practicing. This new practice doesn’t bend very far, it doesn’t stand or lunge and it certainly does not twist period ever. Yet this new yoga is slow and careful and intentional. It breathes and lengthens and softens and listens.
This injury has taught me that it’s okay to be something else, its okay to adapt because this new yoga, this is a different kind of strong. This is the strength to still roll out my mat, this is the strength to focus on what I still can do (and it’s surprisingly a lot), this is the strength to practice even when it’s hard, even when I have perfectly acceptable reasons not to. This is the strength that will carry me through so that when my hip is finally ready to practice with me the way I know and love, the rest of me will be ready to jump in too. It’s the strength to be joyful in that I can do anything rather than sad that I can’t do some things.
So what am I doing now? Well, I’m rolling out my mat just about every day for 25-30 minutes. Cat, cow, down dog, dolphin, pleeennnttyyyy of supine core work and some light back bending, it’s all in there. I’m going to start posting in here with each practice, but it took me until today to really see that this is my yoga now and it deserves to be in the yoga diary. My 60 days of yoga is (probably obviously) on hold until I’m recovered, but I’m going to try to resume posting pictures from my mat because I still can and I want to celebrate that!