I have been practicing Yoga for over a decade. I started, then I dropped it, and then I started seriously around 7 years ago, and since then my practice has been very consistent, I have reached a level of strength, flexibility and balance that I never knew I could reach, and I am also a lot more calm and less anxious than before. Three years ago I completed my 200 hours Teacher Training, and since then I specialized in teaching Yin Yoga, a style of yoga that targets the soft tissues other than muscles (tendons, ligaments, fascia). I have studied the benefits of holding Yin poses for longer periods of time (3-5 minutes), and I am convinced of the long term benefits of this practice. I also continue my Vinyasa practice, where the poses work more on the muscles and the breath is the common thread that connects all the Asanas together.
Over a month ago, I started having problems with my left hip, experiencing pain in particular after long periods of sitting down. My day job (Project Manager in Software) implies that I will be sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, sitting in meetings, or traveling around the country in uncomfortable planes. But I thought I shouldn’t worry about the consequences of all this sitting down, since I practice Yoga at least 2 to 3 times a week, and I also have my own personal home practice. Well, that was not quite true.
When I had X rays done in my hip area, we discovered that my lumbar-5 vertebra had fused with the sacrum, which limits the mobility in this part of the spine and causes the affected muscles to contract more frequently than they have to. This was causing my Psoas and my Quadratum Lumborum to be very tense all the time, which was the source of the pain I was experiencing. Of course, once these muscles are all tensed up, there is a whole chain reaction in the area affecting ligaments, tendons and other muscles.
My first reaction when I saw the X ray was: How could this happen to me if I practice Yoga? While I was being explained how to relax the muscles, and the exercises I had to do, on top of the physical therapy involved, I couldn’t stop thinking: but this is exactly what I tell my students in my Yoga classes to do, to avoid what I am experiencing right now! In reality, there is no clear reason why this happened, and it may be something that happened a long time ago, and if I didn’t practice Yoga, I could be a lot worse. The good news, is that one of the recommendations is to continue practicing Yoga and stretching those muscles. I should also continue my other physical activities such as working out and riding my bike, but now with more knowledge about what is happening in my body.
Once I was over the shock of what was really going on with my lower back, I realized that now I have an explanation for sensations I had been experiencing while practicing yoga all these years. I had noticed that my left side was very different than my right side and in some poses, I had a more limited range of motion and in other poses, I could feel some pulling in areas on my left side where I didn’t feel it on the right side. Now I am pretty much back to my normal activity level, including yoga.
There is a world in Sanskrit that defines acceptance: ‘Santosha’, which is one of the teachings of Yoga.Learning to understand and accept our physical condition is not easy, but we all have our limitations, and these should not define who we really are. Now when I practice Yoga I understand better what is going on around my left side, and I can consciously work on the muscles on that side to relax them better.