As I alluded to in a previous post, I put my back out this past weekend. I'm not exactly sure what I did or how I did it but all I know is that I was walking up the stairs with Daisy in-arms one minute, and unable to put my left foot down, lift, or bend the next.
Unfortunately, this event coincided with my Goddess of Pain Relief - my massage therapist, Tanya - falling violently ill and winding up in the hospital. She got better from the hospitalizing event, by the way, but now appears to have contracted the flu, poor thing. Obviously I feel horrible for her and want her to take the time she needs for her recovery but, from a purely selfish standpoint, the timing really sucked lemons.
Without her healing hands I was left somewhat blowing in the wind. What to do to relieve this pain???
I took a trip to the chiropractor on Monday (somebody I had visited during my pregnancy and the rotten pubic malfunction incident) but honestly don't know if I believe that those little activators actually do anything. A little click here and a little bump there, lift your head, tilt your head, move this arm, push here... ten minutes and $50 later and you're walking out the door wondering if you're feeling relieved because someone told you that you should be feeling less pain, or because you are actually feeling less pain. (If it were really that easy, wouldn't we all just be going to the chiro for ten minutes?) I can never quite tell but I was in enough pain to pay $50 and try.
Tuesday, although bringing slightly less pain and stiffness (and enabling me to kick the pain killers for 8 hours) still presented enough discomfort to make me grouchy by the time the afternoon rolled around. Not wanting to resort to pills again, I decided to pull out the Kundalini Yoga videos.
Kundalini Yoga was my first experience with yoga. Back in 2005, I was under a lot of stress at work and started getting muscle spasms in my upper back and neck. I did a lot of research online and found Ravi Singh and Ana Brett. Their style of yoga promised relaxation and relief without all the pretzel-twisting and, as favored yogis of celebrities such as Gwynneth Paltrow, Madonna, Sting, and the Red Hot Chilie Peppers, I figured there must be something to it. I did their first DVD, Ultimate Stretch, and was hooked. Although it felt as though I hadn't done much at all (I was a gym rat in those days and was used to huffing and puffing my way through a workouts like the Big Bad Wolf), I woke up the next day sore but in a good way. Plus, at the end of every practice, I began to feel energized, loose, and happy. Best of all, the muscle spasms started to go away.
After a while, however, I got more and more interested in other types of yoga and delved into more physically challenging practices focused on building strength and stability. I slowly all-but gave-up by Ravi and Ana workouts.
So, yesterday, was a return to basics, if you will. I let go of the voice in my head that said I needed to be doing something physically challenging that promoted weight-loss and strength-building, let go of "achieving" anything at all really, and did a 45 minute practice, breathing, meditation, (which I often skipped) and all. Once again I was reminded why I turned to Ravi and Ana in the first place: I stood up and felt immediate, palpable relief in my back. The pain wasn't gone but I felt as though something had "let go". It's amazing how the smaller, less ambitious movements of Kundalini yoga, coupled with the somewhat unusual breathing techniques, can really make a difference.
Later that night I dug back again into my tool-chest of things I've learned from past pains and injuries and remembered what a physical therapist suggested for piriformis issues - a tennis ball and a wall. Since I was experiencing pain in my right buttock, radiating out from my back, I fished-out a tennis ball and stood up against a wall, using the ball to massage out the gnarly, painful bits of my back, butt, and thigh. It was painful but oh-so-relieving.
By the time I was ready for bed, my pain had reduced by a good 50%!
So, the lesson of Tuesday was to remember that small things can make a difference; whether a little activator, a deeper breath, or a little yellow tennis ball.