by Robin Goldman
"In March of this year ('99) I suffered a bulged disc in my LF vertebrae as diagnosed by a doctor at the St. Francis Memorial Hospital Sports Medicine Clinic. A yoga teacher suggested I might instead be suffering from an extremely inflamed psoas. At any rate, I have been unable to sit down in any position since the beginning of March. Grocery shopping, household chores, etc. are out of the question, as I have not been able to lift anything heavy or move freely. I have had waves of pain, sometimes insufferable in the middle of the night. Pain medication/anti-inflammatories have nothing to alleviate the physical sensations.
"I called Mary Jarvis, because I had noticed in her flyer that Bikram Yoga had helped her heal her herniated discs. I had taken 10 classes before my accident, and was eager to resume practice, both for its physical benefits, and as I felt it complemented my spiritual studies.
"Mary encouraged me to come to class as soon as possible, and a few days later I did so.
AFTER MY VERY FIRST CLASS BACK AFTER A ONE MONTH HIATUS, I FELT FANTASTIC! I left the studio with absolutely NO PAIN, a feeling of lightness and air running down my spine. That night I decided it was fitting and appropriate to begin my 100 days of yoga straight with no interuptions.
Today I have completed Day 25 and my progress has been astounding.
"Three days ago I felt it was time to try the locust asana. And today I was amazed at the movement in my body. As my legs hovered in the air, our teacher exclaimed "Robin! Amazing!"
I knew it was great that I could finally try the pose, but not until I slowly lowered my legs to the ground did I realize my height -- my legs kept moving toward the ground, and yet the ground was nowhere to be found! Now at Day 25 my Half Moon pose is incredibly deep for me, deeper than when I was not injured, and I have not fully recovered yet. My pleasure in being able to enter certain poses again, or experiencing a deepening of poses I was able to perform since Day 1, was not based in a competitive sense of accomplishment, but rather that DOING them provided physical evidence that I was HEALING.
"When I meditate deeply on the source and location of my injury, I see how I have cracked myself open to release the lifetimes of pain and sadness, a beautiful purge on my path to enlightenment. I find that certain poses in class will release ancient pain and that I will weep to flush it from my system. Thank you Divine One for this chance to heal!
"On a more physical level, even before my accidents I could see the benefits of the yoga.
I am a cyclist who had been experiencing lower back pain for about a year. I had been practicing weight lifting with a trainer to ensure proper strength and development to assist me in my long distance tours. Nothing provided strength and comfort to me as did the Yoga!
"Soon after I began yoga practice, a friend and I were cycling up one of San Francisco's vertiginous hills, and I marvelled at the new sensations in my lower back. Just as I was able to feel the strength of my quad muscles propel the bike forward as I pistoned my legs more steadily and strongly, so too did I feel this in my lower back! Those back muscles felt like . . . a leg! It was as if someone had their hand in the small of my back and I was being pushed from that place up the hill. I have never in my 9 years of cycling felt that body awareness and strength from my back! Therefore I was especially disturbed when this disc (or psoas, or both!) issue arose and sidelined me.
"I could go on and on, but I will conclude for now and say that I had been wanting to make Hatha Yoga a bigger part of my life, and poof! I received that chance. I cannot wait to see what the next 75 days will bring. Physically I have made more progress in 25 days than I did in the prior 60 without yoga. I use my time in class as a spiritual practice as well, which has led me to glimpses into the infinite during asanas and savasana. Sublime.
"My doctor had recommended a variety of quadriped and abdominal exercises, gradually increasing the number and length of the repetitions in 2 week intervals. He encourages Yoga or whatever physical exercise feels good. He has added in 15 minutes on my home bike trainer 3x per week to kickstart my cycling muscle memory. With my focus and desire, he saw no reason I could not go back to the actvities I wanted to engage in, but couldn't say how long it would take me to get there. He was very impressed when after 2 weeks into treatment I told him some of the yoga positions I could already practice and that I was even going to yoga 1.5 hours every day.
"For me what is most important is that my mental state is quieter in class. I am much more focused. I rarely fidget between poses. I rarely drink or mop my face between poses. I want nothing to distract me from the space between my thoughts. I pay more attention to the positions of all of my body parts. I'm a better yogi injured than when I was uninjured. I guess that depends on your interpretation of injury!"