Ouch and ahhh. The Benefits of Yoga?

For almost three years I have not attended a yoga class. I used to love yoga. Well, I used to have a love/hate relationship with yoga. Love because every time I walked out of a yoga class, I felt like I’d had a massage. Hate because most of the time I thought it was excruciatingly boring and pretty painful and hard. But I’m a true believer in yoga and the HUGE benefits it provides for our bodies. I really think that if done right and regularly, it would truly be a great preventative to chronic body pain of all sorts. For crying out loud, all you have to do is look at Madonna’s body and energy to see the benefits. However, I never did it on a regular basis always on the up and down seesaw of working out. Sometimes I was dedicated and went once a week, other times I got busy or poorer and stopped working out all together. However, when I injured my back, I found that yoga aggravated the pain and when I started seeking help for my pain, some of the practitioners discouraged me from doing yoga and encouraged me to “rest my back”. This seemed like a get-out-of-exercise-free-pass to me and I took it.

What I think has happened (this according to my chiropractor with whom I think I agree) is that I’ve been so careful about aggravating my back that all of the rest of my body has gone into a protection mode and the muscles that are protecting are now so tense and in such spasm that nothing will release. Including my injury. This makes perfect sense to me except that I heard the same thing from a physical therapist two years ago. I tried doing gentle stretches and got a prescription for a months-worth of muscle relaxers which I took at night to try to really relax my muscles. It didn’t work, so I had my doubts about the spasm theory. When a year later I finally dove in and got an MRI it was discovered I had a bulging disc and some tears. Which came first the chicken or the egg? Impossible to know, but it was another get-out-of-exercise-free pass and time to try various western medical practices such as getting cortisone shots. Didn’t work.

All of this plus the recession put me in debt and I stopped doing anything for my back altogether until I could take significant time off from work for proper care and healing or had enough money (or some miracle change in health insurance) to get major back surgery.

So even though there has been no miracle change in health insurance, I’m finally out of debt and here I am. Taking the time off from work, getting regular chiropractic care and dedicated to doing yoga regularly ignoring the pain (but not over-doing) to see if eventually this might-be spasm will release. The yoga class was still a love/hate thing. The instructor was great, but it was hard. I felt a lot of popping in my pain area when doing one of the poses which made me a little worried, but it didn’t seem to cause immediate pain and when I walked out I felt like I had just gotten out of a massage. The true test is tomorrow when even if I didn’t feel aggravation of my back pain during an act of exercise, the pain will intensify the next day. Time will tell, but no matter what happens, I’m determined to stick with it. After all, I splurged on the yoga studio’s introduction ten-pass discount!