While participating in a 1970s ashram yoga class, I loved the challenge and discovery of what my body could do. I felt strong and limber, and the poses didn’t stress injured joints. In fact, I hadn’t acquired injured joints yet.
Fast forward 40 years. I thought a yoga class would relieve chronic pain I suffered from several injuries to legs, hips, and back.
These mishaps were hardly worth a doctor’s visit, but monthly chiropractic “tune-ups” helped keep me going. Regardless, I needed exercise that would strengthen muscles enough to pull joints into alignment and keep them there.
My own daughter, who holds a Masters’ in kinesiology, told me the strength and conditioning exercises of yoga would make the chiropractor’s work more effective.
When a yoga class opened up that included a chiropractor assisting the instructor, it sounded perfect.
The first session proved challenging indeed. Even with the chiropractor modifying my poses with pillows and pads, it was still too painful to kneel, bend, and fold.
The extra hundred pounds I had gained since my 20s didn’t help either. Sitting cross-legged or lying in child’s pose was impossible. I once prided myself on being able to sit and reach out to grab of my toes. An abundant tummy took that triumph away from me.
I thought if I only kept at it, my body would eventually respond positively. After suffering from chronic pain for several decades, however, I didn’t want any more. Yoga seemed to aggravate rather than relieve my joint pain.
Tai Chi also washed out. Standing for an hour left me with aching hips and knees. My daily hikes eventually stopped for the same reason. There had to be some exercise I could enjoy.
My daughter suggested pilates.
“Don’t you do pilates on a rack?” I whined.
“Just try it, Mom. The studio has an instructor who is sympathetic to injured people. Try it out with private lessons for awhile.”
I am eternally in her debt. After two years, with a six-month haitus for a knee replacement, pilates has renewed my body and my life. My new knee is limber, pain-free, and fully functional.
At 55, yoga stressed my injured body, but if I had continued yoga throughout life, chances are my small mishaps wouldn’t have injured my body as badly as they did.