Tag Archives: yoga

Do it for the feeling

Today I went for a jog…and it was hard.  I’m not a natural when it comes to exercise at any rate – it’s just never come easy to me – but today kicked my arse.  I was thirsty, I felt like my breakfast was still digesting, I was out of breath too soon and my legs felt like bricks. It reminded me a lot of when I first started.  But I’ll start this post a little further back than that.

After I broke my leg, the doctors said I wouldn’t need any physio because the breaks were in the tibia and fibula, not the joints.  So although they had operated on me three times to insert, re-set (because my foot was pointing in the wrong direction the first time), and finally remove the nail that extended from my ankle (joint) to my knee (joint), and although a good part of the trauma my leg went through was at these joints (owing to the two screws at either end to hold the nail in place), no follow-up therapy was carried out.  Consequently, I had a lot of pain, particularly in my ankle.  I couldn’t walk for more than half an hour before I began limping.

It didn’t help at all that I’d begun putting on weight.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

You gotta love some body.

The penny really dropped for me in a roundabout way.  I’d decided to try giving up cigarettes, and it would take me three rounds (gum, patches, and finally Champix, as well as an extraordinary nurse and very supportive partner all along the way) before I really and truly got there.  But when I did, I was immediately struck by how much less my chest hurt and how many more stairs I could take than I could whilst I was still lighting up (duh).

But there were other pains: back pain, which came and went and was debilitating; pain in my ankle and knee from a lack of physio after my 3 surgeries following my broken leg; and then just the normal aches and pains that go along with carrying 60 lbs too many around with me everywhere, every day, all the time.  This giving up smoking thing was very much connected to my well being in three ways:  vanity (I was sick of yellow teeth, being stinky, and worrying about those horrible lip wrinkles), fear of death (kept picturing myself on my deathbed with lungs that would never clear out again, having to look my loved ones in the eye), and the anger that came with constantly feeling a lack of control over my situation (nothing took precedence over making sure I’d had a cigarette when I needed one).  Giving up cigarettes is something that occupies every free moment of thinking time when one is going through the hardest bits, and consequently, I spent lots of time contemplating the function of the body I was healing.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

The Yoga (Every) Body

Way back in January, I started sending off queries for an article on yoga.  It was one of the first articles I pitched, when I was just getting started with this whole writing endeavor.  It was actually my mom’s idea:  debunking the myth of the skinny yogi.

The piece was dear to my heart for three reasons:  Firstly, I know how much yoga has meant to a lot of people who live in / have lived in bigger bodies (myself included).  It can be, and often is, the catalyst for an entirely different way of living life.  Secondly, I also know that it’s utterly fictitious to say that yoga cannot be practiced by any living, breathing human being (and occasionally pets…see: Karma Yoga).  Yoga isn’t just Hatha!  But even Hatha Yoga can be modified to meet the needs of just about anybody, even people with some severe disabilities.  Being bigger-bodied is by no means a disqualifier.  Finally, once I got the ball rolling, I was able to speak with a number of passionate, inspiring individuals about their practice, and about how they feel about the subject.

The article has gone live, and you can read it on Elephant Journal.

I’d also like to introduce you to some of those exceptional people who gave me a bit of their time and whose innovative, out-of-the-box thinking really inspired the piece:

Lauren Rose, LCSW, RYT, is a psychotherapist in New York.  Her brand of healing is quite literally body and soul:  she is also a yoga instructor.

Meera Patricia Kerr is the genious behind the extraordinary book Big Yoga.  She fuses all of her learning, including the teachings of her guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda, creator of Integral Yoga, into this excellent resource.

Anna Guest-Jelley is the founder of Curvy Yoga in Nashville, Tennessee.  The studio is just one part of Anna’s work – she offers online courses for students not yet ready to practice in public, and sends out regular wellbeing emails to everyone as well.

Janet Zinn is the lovely and tireless psychotherapist from New York who dropped 60 lbs., owing in part to her yoga practice.  Mind, she gave the interview whilst jogging…I don’t think I could recite half of the alphabet while jogging!  She also encourages her clients to incorporate yoga into their healing, and really walks the talk.

Tony Riposo is the founder and director of Infinite Light Yoga in Syracuse, New York, and was so passionate about this subject, I think he could have written the article far better than I did!  His studio and practice are committed to working with every sort of person, especially those with mobility issues.

Dr. Moshe Lewis is a pain rehabilitation expert in San Francisco who often “prescribes” yoga to his clients.  He understands how difficult it can be, particularly for people who’ve not had exercise as a part of their lives, to get back in tune with their bodies.

Do let me know your thoughts on the article once you get the chance!  Namaste!

Tagged , , ,

On the joys of the unattainable

I’ve been doing yoga for just over a year now.  It really struck me as amusing this morning when I realized that the anniversary of ths profoundly life-altering decision had come and gone sans my attention to it.  (Anybody who regularly reads this blog will know I’m a sucker for anniversaries).

It’s not that it’s been a year since the first time I got into downward-facing dog pose – actually, a friend from long ago, J, introduced me to yoga nearly a decade back, and I knew then how special and extraordinary it was.  But I was clueless as to how it could fit into my life.

Not long before we left for the Philippines, Chris suggested we enroll in a yoga class in London.  Having someone with whom to enroll took all the fear out of it for me (I was shockingly unfit at the time), and I never hesitated for a second.  That lasted 6 weeks, though, and then we were off, visiting France (where we did a few asanas, but nothing that impressive), road-tripping around the U.S. (where we did exactly nothing for more than a month), and then making our way to the Philippines, where copious amounts of stress, heat and humidity for the first few months meant that – in spite of that being the picture-perfect scenario for getting my practice up and running – yoga was forgotten again for a while. The running excuse was that we didn’t have mats.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

On Balance

In the Primary Series used by Astanga yogis, there is a pose I’m nowhere near able to get into called ardha baddha padmottanasana (say that three times fast), or half-bound lotus intense stretch posture.  It looks like this:

credit: astanga.fi

 A modification of a modification of that one is another posture in its own right, called vrikshasana, or tree pose.  It looks like this:

credit: life-care.weebly.com

I struggle with this one, too: balance has never been my thing.  In fact, I recently found out that this is not just because I’m not trying hard enough:  by nature of the fact that my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mother all had or have something called genetic or hereditary neuropathy, there’s a pretty good chance I’ve got it, too.  I’m not too terribly worried about it – while my grandma’s not at the height of her game, she was a sharp shooter up until 80+, as was my great grandma, and my mom comes to speak to me on Skype more often than not pulling off her gloves from working in the garden, returning from or on her way to a workout, or exhausted from a day filled with any number of physical tasks.  I’m just annoyed that, from the little I can understand from what I’ve read on the interweb, I’m predisposed to the clumsiness that’s ailed me all my life.  I am, quite literally, a natural-born klutz.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Why I do yoga.

“You don’t have a soul.  You are a soul.  You have a body.”

~ C.S. Lewis

I’m pretty confident in saying that I struggled a bit as a child.  I know we all have our difficulties, and probably mine weren’t any greater than the next kids’, but they felt huge to me at the time, and I guess, as per one of my last posts, I’m comfortable admitting that perception counts for a lot.  Anyway, the source of a lot of my suffering was my body.  First, I was tall.  Really tall.  By the time I was 10 years old I was 5’7″ (170 cm).  Once, when out buying school supplies with my mom, the cashier asked, “So, will you be going into 6th or 7th grade this year?”  I was going into 2nd.  Tall wouldn’t have been all that bad, I guess, because there was, for the first few years of school, one boy who was taller than me (he left after 3rd grade.  I have never forgiven him for that.  Mr. David F., wherever you are…).  But I was also fat.  And fat can be cute sometimes, others not.  Without a doubt I fell into the latter category.  Compounding the issue, of course, was the fact that I had a terrible overbite accompanied by a horrendous lisp (thanks for sorting that out, Mom), and have always, always been quick to tears.  Children can be mean, and I’m sure at times I was one of the mean kids, too, but most often I sat alone at lunchtime, or walked laps around the soccer field at recess.  I was last picked for every game, and openly mocked in class by both teachers and students.  I was decidedly unhappy.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,