I say “Ashtanga”, you say “What?”

Attempted a similar pose to this last week. My knee is still navy blue. And there’s a bruise in my armpit. But I almost had it!! Mostly.

I have decided to embark on a journey. And I have no idea where it ends, or what’s waiting for me when I get there. Except maybe some sweet bendy contortionist moves.

Back when I had my stroke (18 months ago now!!) the one thing that I didn’t forsee as part of my aftermath is this crazy chronic joint pain I’ve had since I got out of the hospital. My hips, lower back, shoulders and even my elbows will randomly lock up, pinch, throb, or convince me I have broken something (we’re talking compound fracture pain here). I’ve talked to all my doctors about it…I took over the counter pain relief medicine for a period of time (no more!! that stuff just makes your stomach all wonky)…I even go to massage therapy once a month to keep me relatively mobile. But, without fail, by the end of each month I was feeling like I’d been in a bar fight. A bar fight during which a  big truck drove into the bar and smacked me directly in the back, while my bar fight opponents simultaneously punched me in all major joints related to anything your body does while it’s awake. Yeah. That bad. So at the first of the month I’d go crawling to my massage therapist, begging her to fix me and put everything back where it belongs. She would, and I’d feel pretty good…for about 3 or 4 days.

Me and this dog would so be besties. I dig his purpleness. And I think our rolls have been equivalently slowed.

I’m stretching my budget as it is with the once-a-month massage assist on the mobility front, so having the kinks worked out weekly just hasn’t been an option. I needed another solution, and fast. I thought perhaps increasing my muscle strength would help hold my joints together better (I’m not a doctor. I have no idea if this is a thing. It just certainly felt like all my connected bits were coming apart. Those are wrapped in muscle. Thus, more muscle = more connection between the bits. So there’s my underlying thought.)

Anyway, after researching things I could learn that would give me more muscle, that I could afford, and that would ultimately translate into something I could do at home FOR FREE – I picked a yoga class at our local rec center. For $5 a class, I could go up to twice a week, and reconnect my pieces…hopefully.

Honestly, I had practiced yoga sporadically for about 7 years. And by sporadically, I mean like, 25 times en total…and by practiced, I mean participated in. I just never got into the groove of it. It seemed like there was a lot of waiting around in awkward positions. I’m attention-deficit-hyperactive – awkward I can do – waiting, on the other hand, I definitely don’t do. I needed a more fidgety discipline. Or one with more talking.

I had nothing to lose this round, so I was feeling pretty determined. But I was totally not prepared for the awesomeness that awaited me. The compact power machine that walked in to teach that yoga class kicked my ever lovin’ ass with non-stop flow from one pose to the next. Based on breathing, not counting (I can’t keep a count to save my life…there’s so many other things to be thinking about) AND WITH NO WAITING!! Just constant, joyful motion. By the time we got to the nap at the end (more commonly known as Savasana, or corpse pose) I was wiped out and my muscles didn’t have enough strength left to even think about hurting. I was hooked…and afterward, I had the best night’s sleep I’d had in over a year.

[This video – that for some reason is frozen on a ridiculous boobs&abs shot – is pretty representative of the type of yoga taught at my class. This girl has really put together some great courses if you don’t want to take a class, I’ve used them several times when practicing at home.]

Exhibit A: Bendyness Maximus

It’s been about 2-ish months now of weekly classes with my teacher, which have expanded into a 2-3 day per week practice (with the extra days taking place at home). I still get twinges and pain, but it’s manageable and I see a future without me in a wheelchair at 40 years young. It’s been so inspirational in fact, and I feel so amazing, that I have decided to embark upon the practice of Ashtanga yoga. This is going to require a great deal of dedication, is practiced 6 days a week, and the practice involves much more than just bending and breathing – but I believe it’s the next step for me. I believe there’s something incredible waiting on this path for me. And even if I don’t reach the end of this road, at least I’ll be mostly ouchless and super bendy. Which is okay by me. Really I don’t see how this isn’t a win-win situation.

I have a lot to learn though. Like A LOT. I’m on day 3 y’all. And I’m doing more reading

This is what the pose is supposed to look like (minus the usual head twist). However, I’m saying “do this” and my body is saying “you’re a lunatic, sit down immediately”

than practicing because I can only do about 30 minutes of the hour-and-a-half-primary series…right up to the part where you grab your big toe, stick your leg straight out to the side and look over your other shoulder. This is where gravity takes the mickey out of me, and my leg reminds me that my hamstring is more stubborn and ferocious than a starving hyena. But I’ll get there. Slowly, and with a lot of practice, I’ll get there.

And there’s sure to be some funny tidbits along the way, that I’ll happily share with you guys. See? There’s something in it for you too. It’s a win win win 🙂


~ J ~


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3 Responses to I say “Ashtanga”, you say “What?”

  1. Patrick says:

    Good to hear it works for you! My mom does Pilates (not Yoga, but similar enough I think) and she swears by it. She’s got Scoliosis and the exercise helps her back pains immensely.

  2. Patrick says:

    She’s not that coordinated either. She goes to the “senior’s class” where most of it is lying down LOL

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