I had a total hip replacement on November 3. According to my in-home physical therapist, I am doing great. I feel that the recovery is taking much longer than I had expected. When you are facing a surgery like this, others regale you with stories of their experiences saying they were off pain meds in 3 days, they walked a mile day 4, they competed in the Olympics day 5…. I have it on expert authority that they are lying! While they might not think they are telling tales, they forget or are so happy with the ultimate results that they exaggerate how they got there. One medical professional I talked to likened it to giving birth, women end up with this beautiful baby and then say, “oh it wasn’t bad at all”. For the record, I had two children and I have never said that!
I am desperately missing my yoga community and my personal practice. On the other hand, I have been touched by the outpouring of support from my students, friends and family. Two of my closest yoga instructor friends, Ann and Sandy, have taken over my class schedule, maintaining consistency and providing beautiful practices.
I started writing this blog last week and have made some good progress mentally and physically since then. Today, I decided to take class with Sandy who was subbing for me. What a lovely and supportive experience! I felt so much joy being with the community (both in the studio and on line), did LOTS of modifying and felt for the first time in a month, almost like myself. Thank you all!!!!
So, what have I learned from this experience? And what can I impart to others facing this or any other physical challenge? Patience. And so, whether you are having a temporary set back with a minor injury, are recovering from a procedure or are just not feeling well, here is what I have learned:
Listen to your body. We say this so often in yoga that it is almost a cliché. However, each day as you approach movement, find what feels good. Some sensation is fine, pain is not. Breathe into the movements, don’t hold your breath, and turn on your core no matter what you are doing, it helps!
Practice Self Care. Small rituals that make you feel nurtured are important. For me from day one in the hospital, I insisted on basic hygiene followed by braiding my hair and putting on lip gloss and hand lotion. These rituals made me feel human. Once at home I lit scented candles, wore my fuzzy socks over my compression stockings and polished my nails (no not my toes, could not reach them and had no volunteers).
Move Every Day. Getting up and moving every hour is helpful whether you have had surgery or not. Step away from your desk (couch) and walk around the block or whatever small increments feel good to you. I started by pacing my bedroom with the walker and slowly advanced to multiple small walks around the neighborhood. A good practice anytime.
Practice Yoga. You don’t believe that I am standing on my head today? You are right! Remember what Yoga is. Remember sutra 1.2, the meaning of yoga, “Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah” or “The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga”. Simply put, if we learn to control our mind (through meditation, breath, asanas, contemplation) we will achieve the goal of yoga. So, take the time to practice some breath work, a short meditation, and some stretching, this is yoga. It will do your mind, body, and spirit good. Challenged by meditation myself, I find it helpful to use an app or YouTube video to follow along with.
Our Practice – Supported Bridge – Setu Bandha Sarvanagasana
My favorite go to restorative yoga pose is supported bridge, and I can do it now! I love this pose as we get the benefits of an inversion while feeling nurtured and supported.
The benefits of the pose, being an inversion with our head being below the heart, suppresses the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and promotes the parasympathetic nervous system. Basically, it helps us relax. The back benefits from the extension aiding to improve posture and is also a heart/chest opener. I think it helps with chronic back pain.
To come into this restorative pose, lie on your mat with a block nearby.
Lie on your back soles of the feet on the floor and knees bent, feet hips width apart. Arms are alongside your body with fingers toward your feet. Feet are parallel.
Lift your hips off the floor pressing down in your feet and place a under your back, directly under sacrum. This should feel very comfortable, play around with the block on the short side or middle side to determine what feels most comfortable for you. Stay for several minutes if possible as your body settles into the passive backbend.
To come out of the pose, push down through your feet, lift your hips, and remove the block.
Here is a link to a new article about the benefits of supported bridge
Meditation – Compassion For Oneself
Being compassionate to yourself is a very important practice. When you are tired, angry or in despair, you should know how to go back to yourself and take care of your tiredness, your anger and your despair. This is why we practice smiling, mindful walking and breathing, and mindful eating. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. ~ Buddha
Nurturing with Food – Cranberry Orange Muffins
I have not been cooking this past month, my husband Pete has been on duty full time, thankfully! However, with the holidays upon us, I am always thinking of ways to use cranberries. This recipe is one of my favorites for muffins that are full of cranberry flavor and are healthy. You can adjust the sweetness level to your taste.
If you have leftover cranberries, string them with popcorn (another of my favorite snacks) and put them on your Christmas tree if you have one. If you do not, the birds love the strings on any tree outside!
See you on the mat (soon)