Bloggers read other blogger’s blogs, that’s how we make blog-friends. Lately across the my email subscription blogosphere, there is this increasing feeling of stress of not having enough time to get everything done, a sense of disappointment that resolutions set not even a month ago have already been abandoned, and a feeling of already needing a break so quickly into to 2013. Not to mention pressure, guilt and other emotions that aren’t written about. I recognise this things in myself as well, hence why my hopes for 2013 were all about settling my mind and taking the pressure off. They are also about progress and I will continue to work towards this progress all year long. I repeat: All. Year. Long.
Have you ever thought that negative emotions could be connected to injury? (In my case, running injury). We have a sense that negative emotions contribute to disease, but could it be that they could also contribute to that back pain that just won’t go away? The tightness you feel in your hips, no matter how much stretching you do? That sharp pain on your side that no medical professional can firmly diagnose? I’ll be honest, this didn’t even cross my mind until back in November, Ashley suggested my ongoing pelvis and right heel pain could be related to something called TMS, or Tension Myositis Syndrome, a term used to describe psychosomatic pain that is felt mainly in the back and pelvis, related to certain negative, and sometimes repressed, emotions that many of us feel: striving for perfection, guilt, people-pleasing, competitive, etc.. I didn’t give this much thought but took it on board, because at the time, I had just switched to a new physio therapist and thought he would definitely be the one to sort my issues out. Him, and the osteopath I would see in December. They would be my injury saviours.
Fast-forward to mid-January, after a dismal osteopath appointment, which didn’t make much difference at all and brought back some pain my physio had taken care of, I went in to see my physio therapist (PT Alan) again. After cracking my pelvis and lower back, but still seeing issues, PT Alan approached the injury from another perspective. He asked me ‘How are your emotions?‘ Not something one would expect from their PT, and some might find it intrusive, but he broached it from the point of view that no matter what he’s done to adjust my spine and pelvis, somehow things were only changing slowly and that something else might be causing this pain. Not at all caught off guard, I replied that I knew I was stressed and that I was a perfectionist, my job can be really stressful and emotional at times, and that I put added pressure on myself. And running was a way for me to clear my mind and relieve this stress. He suggested that this added stress and negative emotions that I was holding on to in my body while I ran could be contributing to this ongoing pain that was causing him to literally scratch his head in confusion when dealing with me. Imagine how tense we feel when we’re angry, frustrated, and most of all, stressed? Now add that tension to your body when running, and consider that this added tension creates an added impact on your body when you’re running, creating undo stress on your joints and possibly leading to pain and injury. The activity you thought was helping you feel better, more calm and putting your mind at ease, was at the same time causing added impact on your joints because of the negativity you brought to your run. Even the act of running when we’re happy can bring negativity: every runner is plagued with the thoughs I hate this, this is hard, I can’t wait until this is over. And sometimes, we procrastinate and put off runs because we dread it. Why is there so much negativity associated with running? PT Alan’s solution was to try to let go of that negativity before going for a run, acknowledging that yes, that would be very hard to do, but consider it could make such a difference. I considered it, I’m open to it, and I’m working on it.
This is where yoga comes into play. I know that yoga is an activity that requires you to be in the moment: the moment your mind drifts, your pose and balance is affected. Quieting your mind helps you focus on your practice and be totally aware of your body. I used to practice Moksha Yoga in Edmonton, which is a type of fast-flowing hot yoga done in a humid 37’C+ room with a cork floor. I used to love this yoga because it calmed my mind, gave me incredible flexibility and challenged me in new ways. I also used to love lying in the hot room before class, always imagining I was lying on the beach in Spain, (don’t know why there, but that’s where my mind had me). As a result, I was well-versed in the Warrior series, flowing from Downward Facing Dog (or Angry Cat as one of my elementary students said), to plank and then into Upward facing dog, and many balancing poses. Everyone was a sweaty mess after class, but we all saw the value in what we were doing.
|My beach in San Sebastian, Spain|
I knew that one thing I could do to settle my mind practice yoga again. But where? I moved to rural Scotland, where hot yoga has yet to creep, so I needed to find a different type of yoga to practice. The new gym in Laurencekirk offers a Monday night yoag class called Shakti Flow, led by Louisa, which is a combination of yoga styles and breathing techniques to help release tension and negative emotions in our bodies, and balance the our chakras. I’d heard of chakras before, but didn’t know much. After my first class though, I knew that my chakras needed balancing! Chakras are centers of our life force (Prana), and they correspond to vital points in our bodies. These various vital points situated in our bodies are associated with the way we govern certain emotions, positive or negative. A playful way to look at it would be:
– Tight hips? What are you afraid of?
– Knee pain? Are you a jealous person?
– Sore lower back? Do you feel secure?
– Pain in the pelvis? How are your relationships? Do you feel joy?
I could write an entire post on chakras, but I won’t because this one is long enough, but basically, perhaps my unbalanced chakras could be contributing to the pain I’m feeling in my pelvis and hips. I need to examine my joy and security in life, and hopefully in doing so, my mind will be more at ease and my pain will go away. Although Shakti Flow yoga seemed to be the only one that fit my schedule, maybe in a way it was meant to be.
So what is yoga in rural Scotland like compared to urban North America? Well for starters, Lululemon is no where in sight! Which let me say, is a really nice thing. Yes, Lululemon clothing is beautiful, yes it makes our bums look good and yes, it doesn’t fall and shift like other fitness clothing can, but holy crap, is it really worth that exorbitant price tag???!?! I know when I lived in Canada, I was slowly becoming a slave to Lululemon and other expensive brands I thought I needed and justified buying, even though I was just out of university carrying a heavy debt load. It’s expensive in North America, where I thought $62 CAD for a long-sleeved running top was expensive, but now that it’s expanded to the UK, that $62 top is now £62, crazy! I like how my new yoga class is helping my chakras, but also not creating this consumer pressure I felt when I did yoga in Edmonton. Yes, I own Lululemon, but haven’t purchased it since 2009, and will most likely continue my embargo of it until further notice. Or maybe, just ask my husband to buy it for me instead.
The room itself is cold, so I’ve been doing yoga in my comfy hoodie, and it’s next door to the main equipment room, so we hear music blaring while we practice. I’ve also had to purchase my own mat because the gym doesn’t supply mats, but rather smaller foam pads which make some poses impossible. The yoga itself is fun: we do several dynamic movements with breathing to begin, where we look very silly but warm up, then begin to work on our chakras, and ending in traditional hatha yoga, where we do typical yoga poses. I’m adjusting to the difference in yoga culture, but enjoying it at the same time. No pressure, just fun and balance.
I know that this is a different way of approaching injury, and that some might be skeptical to this way of thinking, but all I ask is that you are open to it. Perhaps this might help you with that nagging, chronic pain that’s been plaguing you for a while.
If you’re open to TMS, take this survey to get a better idea of what it deals with.
And if you find that the pressures you put on yourself are blogging related, check Ali’s post via Christine’s blog that says to much about how reading other’s blogs can affect us negatively and how we should just unsubscribe and stop reading.
And finally, if you’re wondering about the pain, it’s diminished greatly these last few weeks, thanks to changing my way of thinking and working on my chakras.
Hope you’ve all enjoyed your weekend, I know I have.
Next up: A Time for your Piece post on Burns Night and haggis!