One Small Problem at a Time

So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I injured my back and I’ve been able to do some Yoga – in fact my physiotherapist has recommended continuing as long as I’m more careful – but actually, I haven’t been doing it anywhere near as regularly.

Usually I love my classes so much that I also do 15-30 minutes of yoga each morning before I get ready for work and this was really helping me to feel more positive and embracing of the day ahead. Unfortunately however, when I stop doing something regularly I find it really hard to get back into the rhythm and flow of it, particularly when I can justify why, on this particular morning, it might be okay not to do it.

My back is fine now; I’ve been to a couple of weekly yoga classes since and had no issues at all. My yoga instructor has a fresh awareness of my back troubles and so is very clear about what to avoid, or do differently, when he’s instructing us which is great.

So I really have no excuse not to do morning yoga. I’m being lazy and I’m slipping into my old depressive ways. I’ve made so much progress so I need to pull myself out of this spiral and get back to making positive changes.

I want to explain to everyone what got me where I am now and, hopefully, remind myself how I felt then, and how yoga makes me feel now so I can take a step back from the precipice and choose self-care again. When I talk to anyone – be it a counsellor, my college tutor, my manager – about the various things in my life contributing to this overwhelming feeling of failure and loss of control each person responds with ‘no one should be expected to cope perfectly with that many things going on at once’. They’re absolutely right, so, no one should be expected to read about all of it one blog post. Instead, I’m going to break this up into my current mantra.

One small problem at a time. One small problem at a time. One small problem at a time.

 

 

 

 

Such a Clumsy Girl.

So. On to the Clumsy Girl part of this yoga journey.

Those of you who know me are well aware of how clumsy I can be. And also how lucky I can be – it’s all usually scrapes, bruises, trips and twists. I haven’t been rushed to hospital in an ambulance and I haven’t broken any limbs. I really feel like I shouldn’t have said that…

I thought I’d share with you all just a small number, lets say ten, of the many ways in which my family have determined that I’m a danger to myself, but thankfully not others:

  1. Absent-mindedly walked into the back-end of a police horse. Yes. How did I not see it there!?
  2. Slipped on the decking in my back garden and smashed my shin into the step by the back door. Thinking about it I think that might have been my first experience of Pigeon Pose…
  3. Cut a perfectly circular chunk out of my finger opening a can of coconut milk.
  4. One year later gave myself a matching scar on the other finger trying to drill a hole in some shells to make a necklace. 
  5. At secondary school I lobbed (yes, lobbed) a javelin so hard that it broke into at least 5 pieces when it hit the ground. Plus side – I was never allowed to do javelin again.
  6. Walked into a lamppost while texting and broke my nose. I still have a tiny, tiny bit of bone floating under the skin on the bridge of my nose.
  7. When playing hockey at high school I slipped and smashed a poor girl in the teeth with the hockey stick. Starting t rethink that ‘danger to others’ thing right now…
  8. Stabbed myself in the leg with a Stanley knife while doing some DIY. Thankfully nowhere near my femoral artery but you hear some stories…
  9. Fell down a hole trying to catch a shiny Pikachu in Pokemon Go. I had to wait for my husband to stop laughing before he could help me up.
  10. And finally, my favourite – glued both my eyes shut with superglue. I had to have my eyes scraped with a scalpel… perhaps this is a post in itself.

Despite all of these, I really don’t have much lasting damage. I do, however, have a damaged knee from my teens. I was throwing a stick for the dog, my hips twisted but my foot remained in place and my knee-joint twisted inside my knee cap causing the cartilage to tear and fold. Again, no rush to hospital – an attempt at some physio and eventually a consultation with an Orthopaedic Surgeon leading to keyhole surgery. It’s never quite been the same, clicks sometimes and occasionally it just gives out, or I ‘go dropsy’ as my husband likes to call it.

I also have a loose shoulder from a drunken roll off a garage roof and I’m prone to sciatica as the muscles in one side of my back tighten much more than the other and nerves get trapped. All in all, I should really have more damage but thankfully that’s it. So far at least. This post is feeling more and more ominous the more I write…

Anyway, to demonstrate my clumsiness, I wanted to tell you about my experience at yoga last night. I have to admit, I had poor judgement at the very start and I should have stopped there and then, I ignored the signs that my back wasn’t as stable as usual and I suffered the consequences. Unfortunately so did my yoga instructor – he’s mortified that I hurt myself in his class but it really wasn’t his fault.

We were three-quarters of the way through the class, I’m sure we were about to start the relaxation. We’d been doing a lot of back bends and twists that I hadn’t tried before so some I was doing the very basic version, others I was sitting out all together, knowing that I really didn’t want to hurt myself and perhaps this wasn’t the week to try. My back had felt… odd… during the initial corpse pose – I couldn’t quite find the position where i felt my back was supported by the floor – and so I was being cautious. Until we started Pigeon Pose.

Now, I had done Pigeon Pose before, when trying a class nearer to my home, and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t too challenging for me. I was also feeling a little like I hadn’t been able to do a lot of the poses on this particular evening so when my instructor guided us through one I knew I had done well previously I let go of my caution. Mistake number one.

In the position, with my right knee up behind my right palm, and my right foot somewhere behind my left palm, I’m laying forward over my leg, with my left leg outstretched, feeling really good about being able to do this one – and my weight shifts over to the right. Now, if I’d remained calm I’m sure I could have lift myself back to position and come out nice and slowly. Instead, I panicked. And the pesky all-or-nothing muscles in the right side of my lower back went into protection mode and seized up around my spine making it very difficult to get out of the position that was now really squashing my leg and – yep, you guessed it – my dodgy knee.

So, I’m out of action for a few days while I let both recover sufficiently, then I’ll be easing myself back in gently.

You may be wondering at this point, what relationship do I see between my clumsiness and my yoga journey?

Well. In my previous posts I explained how yoga made me feel, how my mental health was at a point where I needed to take control and make positive changes, but I’m learning that yoga has so many more benefits. Being the Clumsy Girl that I am, my balance is absolutely awful so I want to improve this. I’m hoping that I can strengthen my core and stretch those muscles in my lower back so that they all work together, at the same speed for a change. And I’m hoping that through learning the poses and working on my breathing I can become more aware of my body, more coordinated and mindful of my surroundings and can actually become less clumsy.

I’m hoping that through yoga, I can become a more stable person both mentally and physically. I’ll let you know how it goes…

 

The Yoga Bug

My first yoga class was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. I know, I know, I sound all hippy-dippy already. Thats not what I mean.

I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. I had the same feeling I had about everything I agreed to do with another person, no matter how much I liked them or the activity – I regretted it because I just wanted to go home, put my PJ’s on and sulk. Annoyingly routine is something you can maintain even with moderate depression.

But I made a promise, and my friend Merran was right – when you agree to do it with someone else its not just you your letting down, its them too so cancelling is not an option without a valid excuse.

By the end of the class I was positively jubilent! I could do it! I finally found an activity I could do sufficiently enough not to hate every second of it and myself afterwards! And actually, I quite enjoyed it! And I wanted to do it again immediately. I went home, burst through the front door and said to my husband “I’ve done it! I’ve finally found my thing! Yoga is my thing. And I love it.”

The look of relief on his face was incredible. Swiftly followed by the realisation that yoga is all I’m going to talk about until even I can’t stand it any more.

Yoga makes me feel, in that moment, like the only important thing in the universe is my body and my awareness of it. My breath and my movements. Everything else falls away. Merran and I joke that our favourite part of the class is the relaxation for the last 15 minutes, where we lay in corpse pose and our yoga teacher gently guides us through a body scan, because “where else is it acceptable to just lay on the floor and do nothing but relax?” Even at home we’re disturbed by family, neighbourhood noises, phone alerts etc., but here we just lay. And its beautiful.

Clik here for more information about Bristol Yoga Classes: http://www.yogabristol.com/

That Moment in Life

I’ve never really been much of an active person.

I’ve tried, don’t get me wrong. I used to do PE at school just like everyone else, even went to Badminton and Trampoline some evenings but the older I become the lazier I get. Recently I’ve become so lazy that I don’t even like walking to the corner shop, I always find a reason why we can make do without, or I’ll go tomorrow, or the next day.

On the other hand, I’m a hard worker. A really hard worker. I like to be good at things and I enjoy doing things I’m really good at – but I’m not good at activity so I avoid it at all costs. My husband will attest to this. Only he knows just how truly difficult it is to get me to walk anywhere further than the driveway without moaning about it.

Recently I stopped being good at my job. It was AWFUL. I had exceeded my capacity for brain power and cognitive thought through various difficulties at home, increasingly more demanding workload and a college degree one evening a week and could no longer function at the expected standard. MY expected standard, as I later learned at a counselling session. I ground to a halt, realised just how bad I’d been treating myself and then… broke. I just broke.

I learned later I was the only one who couldn’t see it happening and had convinced myself that I should be able to deal with all of this, so deal with it I will. Well, I couldn’t. Because no one could be expected to, it was all just too much.

During all of this my friend Merran had said a few times, ‘I keep saying I’m going to be more active, maybe we could do Yoga or something? If we do it together then we’re more likely to stick to it.’ I kept pushing back. I don’t have time to do yoga!? don’t you know how much I’ve got going on at the moment!?

Eventually, after speaking with my doctor, I attended a cognitive behavioural therapy course to understand just how much I was expecting of myself and what little changes in behaviour and habit I coud make to cope with difficult times. One of the topics was activity. Of course it was! Up to this point, the more I spent time with my counsellor and listened to the other people on the CBT course, the more I started to realise that it had been screamingly obvious I was not okay and that I was at a critical moment in my life where I could let it all drag me under – or I could take control of my life and my choices and make a positive change.

As the conversation moved towards the percieved obstacles of activity suddenly my mind started to clear – Merran. She knew what I needed and had been trying to coach me in to it without setting off the inevitable bomb that was ticking away in my mind. This is it. This was the moment. Lose control completely or make a positive change?

I messaged Merran as soon as I was out of the class – I could not wait for that class to be over! “A little while ago you asked me about yoga – do you still want to do it? I’m in.”

And thats how it all started.

The class mentioned above was called Getting the Balance Back and is run by Bristol Wellbeing Therapies: https://iapt-bristol.awp.nhs.uk/