Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bodywork session #3, more musings

I just had my 3rd session/appointment (whatever you want to call it) with my bodyworker yesterday (her name is Marie, I'm tired of saying "my bodyworker," takes too long, lol).  In this meeting we went over pictures that we took from the last appointment.  She took a bunch of me standing normally from different angles and in other positions as well as video so we could see what my body did once it started moving.  After I got over the immediate, "oh my god, look at the face I'm making!  I look like such a geek!  I don't like _____ and _____  or ______ about my body," it was really interesting to actually see what my body looks like when I move, or am just standing still:

1.  I totally look like I was hunching over, even though I thought I was standing up straight!  I could actually see it, my shoulders are rolled forward...that's the tightness of the pectorals that she was talking about
2.  I also look like I'm leaning forward, like all my weight is in my toes, even though, again, I thought I was standing vertically!  Marie said that I am a very "forward-moving" person, ain't that true!  It also has a lot to do with trying to balance out the anterior tilt (which is also very clear in the pictures).
3.  The left hip and shoulder are so obviously higher than the right, it's really crazy to actually see it.  I've never had issues with either of these things before, it's still so hard to believe.  But there is no discounting what I see in the pictures, lol.
4.  Interestingly enough, the left shoulder and right shoulder become even when I raise them out to the side in a "T" position.  She told me that I need to work on strengthening the muscles that bring the shoulder blade down on that side.  I forgot to ask which one that was, lol, and we ended up focusing on something else during the meeting, so we both kind of forgot about it.
5.  During squats, I have great upper body position, she was very impressed that I didn't move out of alignment there when she had me raise my arms above my head.  She said usually people will start bending or arching in their back to compensate for the weight of their arms.  I didn't do that.  Gold star there.  No star when it came to knee-ankle alignment, I'm way too far forward.  One reason she had me do squats was to gauge how strong my glutes are.  They're not, lol.  That's why the alignment is bad. 
6.  I need to work on engaging my core.  No surprise there, I know it's an issue.  She took a picture of me in forearm plank--no core engagement, I'm sticking my butt up in the air.  Busted.  :)
7.  Super shiny gold star for 0 hamstring tension, lol.  Thank you Ashtanga, lol.  She couldn't believe how open my hamstrings were, lol.  No gold star for lifting my head up when I raise up from a forward bend.  She videotaped me coming up from a forward bend and literally the first thing I did was look forward.  Which is not good for neck or back because I'm compressing the cervical spine.  The whole spine (neck included) should be in a straight line when I come up from a forward bend.  I'll work on remembering that.

So, those were the highlights of the pictures and videos.  The rest of the meeting focused on my hips.  She worked on releasing the psoas again.  No where near as painful this time or as sensitive.  The first time she worked on it I was quite literally twitching at her touch when she worked on the right side, lol.  Hardly any issues this time.  Huge progress.  The other huge thing was discovering just how tight my right quad is.  I knew it was tight, but I didn't realize it was that tight.  In poses that stretch the quads, it's always a little tight on the right side, but I've always thought it was still pretty open because I could almost "do the full pose."  But, apparently I wasn't doing it with the correct tilt in the pelvis.  I was taking advantage of already having an arch in my low back.  She kept my hips neutral (not letting me tip them forward) and holy cow, the right side was SO tight.  I couldn't move my foot in very close (picture knee on bench, bend foot in toward bum...but no arching your back).  She had to remind me to breathe because the stretch was so intense.  Left side, just fine.  She thinks that is a huge issue relating to the low back problem.

When the pelvis tips too far forward, it creates an arch in the low back, thereby compressing the low back.  In order to reverse it you need several things: open hip flexors & open quads (if those are tight, they hold your pelvis tipping forward, because that's literally what they are designed to do...bring your pelvis and your thigh towards each other) and strong lower abdominals (to literally curl your tailbone under you and the front of your pelvis up).  Problem is...I don't have any of that, lol.  Or I have very little.  Combine that with the left hip being higher and apparently that's enough to cause problems in the back.  One other little fun fact is that some major supporting muscles are not strong enough: gluteus maximus (right side) and gluteus medius (left side).  It was very clear in the pictures and video.  When she had move up and down in a crescent lunge, my left knee would track more towards the outside more than the right side did--which is indicative of weakness in the gluteus medius--that is the muscle on the outside the hip that helps keep you from collapsing in the hip when you walk, they're basically like hands holding the sides of your hips in place.  And apparently, my left one is weaker than my right.  Interesting fun fact considering that my left hip is higher than the right.  It's almost like I collapse a little on the left side.  Lots going on there.  It feels like there's a lot of imbalances left over from the foot injury and from attempting to heal the injury and they've never really been addressed.  The focus was always on the foot, rather than how it was effecting the rest of the body (which is how this body work is different from physical therapy).

She asked me what I was thinking and feeling when we finished.  I said that all this just makes me want to go for a run.  My legs (bum included) used to be so strong.  I also told her about how I haven't felt like practicing during these last couple of weeks that I've been working with her.  She asked why, what would make me want to practice again?  Honestly, I'm not sure.  Sometimes I feel like the yoga isn't good for my body, or at least that it's not enough; that it needs other things.  Again, that's something that I've said before, it just feels like it's becoming much more apparent these days.  There's also something else that I told her kind of spontaneously that I hadn't really thought about before, but I think is a big influence.  "I feel like I don't know how to move without hurting myself."  Part humor, largely not.  I had SO many injuries when I ran.  Every time.  Shall I list them?  There's too many, let's not.  Though I had far less when I ran cross country.  Probably because I tend to run more naturally when I'm out in nature--go figure, lol.  I feel like my posture is better and my attitude is better--more relaxed and just enjoying the run.  Anyways--lots of injuries from running.  Got injured when I played volleyball with friends (hello wrist sprains!).  Got injured during a hike.  Injured in yoga.  Though I didn't actually get injured in rock climbing it definitely contributed to the recent shoulder injury. 

"I feel like I don't know how to move without hurting myself."  So, this time, I finally stopped.  All the other times, I just kept pushing through whatever pain was there.  Marie said that was actually very mature and wise.  Took a long time to learn it, lol.  It still isn't always my first instinct, but I'm learning.  But you know what, can't stay immobile forever, you get injuries/issues that way too, lol.  When you don't use your body, then the muscles get weak and then you can't even support the weight of your own body in simple, everyday things--like walking--let alone actually exert yourself.  The jobs that I have done since I moved here involve very little physical activity.  I literally SIT all day long.  Even in the security/loss prevention job.  No wonder my butt is weak, I sit on it all day!  And how good can it be for the low back to constantly have all this weight sitting directly on it?  It's not.  She also asked me "the question," "Do you like your job?"  Whatever, it works for now.  I have one, they treat me well, the people I work with are very nice, it's extremely low stress, they pay me well, I have benefits, I can practically do whatever I want (I'm writing this at work), there's very little to complain about.  But it is by no means long-term; God I hope it's not long-term.  It works for now.  Beyond that, I have no idea, and I'm tired of trying to figure it out.  So, no doubt there's something to be worked out there.  But right now there's something more immediate that needs attention--the yoga.

I'm about half-way done with the training.  This weekend is a training weekend and the first one with Jennie Cohen.  After this, there are only 3 more weekends, and then I'm done.  Assuming I pass the exam, in about a month, I will be certified to teach yoga.  And I'm hardly practicing right now.  I think the break was much needed but, it's become clearer and clearer that if I continue with the yoga, I have to really change how I practice it.  There's just too much going on that can really be addressed in a class setting....or in the Mysore room.  How much quad and hip flexor stretching do you see going on in the Primary Series?  The shoulder issue I could address in there because it's a subtle action that I need in all the poses, I just have to move slowly and with enough attention to get it.  But everthing else just feels like it's something that I can only fully address and work on either in a consistent private session with someone who knows what I need (can we say "expensive") or in a home practice.  Which is the one part of yoga that has been the hardest for me to work on.  Doing my own practice, consistently, away from studio or teacher.  And it's becoming very clear that that's the direction I need to go.  I'm not entirely sure why I'm so resistant to it.  Possibly because I feel like I'll be losing the connection to the community I've grown to love. 

Yeah, I think that's a lot of it.  I've spent a lot of time out here on my own, doing everything on my own that it's been nice to be around people and not have to do everything myself--even if it's just having someone else lead me through a yoga practice, lol.  But I remember reading an introduction to a book on yoga and the person had said that, "at some point, the only person who could take your further/deeper into your yoga practice is you."  It kind of feels like it's getting to that point, if it's not there already.  How much of that can you really do when you don't have your own practice.  The Ashtanga practice comes close, because I am doing it on my own, but it's still within a certain structure.  And I'm not sure that it's really working for me anymore.  Also, as I learned from having to do nearly every single track practice on my own during my last season, there's a certain kind of inner strength that can only come from doing your own practice; from finding ways to motivate yourself and push yourself in a healthy and encouraging way without constant outside support.  And I feel like I've really lost touch with that.  It kind of feels like this is the place I'm supposed to work at right now: how do I have my own practice without completely losing touch with the community that I have grown to love?


  1. i wrote this long awesome comment that got eaten. i'll just have to talk to you about it when i see you next. but i'll say here that i am LOVING hearing about your bodywork sessions.