Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summer Yoga Class

The end of May I started my first yoga instructor training class at the community college. I took a yoga class last year and loved it but I had never committed to a daily regime. It was a first for me and I was totally committed. I knew I would be doing yoga for the rest of my life after taking this class as the change in my back was phenomenal. My family has disc degenerative disease that has manifested itself in many of my uncles, aunts and cousins.

As a teenager in high school I was very active, then in my early 20’s I bruised a few of my lower lumbar lifting something to heavy. Years later I carried three babies to full term, all the while suffering miserably because I carried my babies low in my back. I would have never made it if it weren’t for my chiropractor. After my children grew older my back seemed to weaken from years of lifting them. I was constantly going to the chiropractor but my back never did get better to the point I could stop going altogether. It seemed to always hurt at some point. Over the years it has gotten worse and I just learned to deal with the pain.
In the 1990’s I took my first yoga class. I was hooked instantly but I did not do yoga daily it was more of a once a week thing. As the years went by my back only got worse. Then about a year ago I enrolled in a yoga class at the community college. Every week I did yoga, I enjoyed it so much I started going every day. To my surprise my back stopped hurting. I finally had one day one day where I no longer felt pain. This is when I knew I would be doing yoga for the rest of my life.
About a month ago, my mother had an MRI done on her back. When the results came in her doctor called her and said, “I don’t know how you are even walking, your back is so bad.” I guess that’s where mind over matter kicks in. The doctor discussed shots vs. surgery. Neither sounded good. The shots are a temporary fix until you can no longer take the pain. At this point the only thing left is to have the surgery to decompress those discs that are causing so much pain. An appointment was made for her to go in and have her first shot but to our surprise this doctor wouldn’t do it when he found out what medication my mother was taking. If she were to stop taking the medication then the possibility of her having a heart attack increases dramatically. We weren’t willing to take that risk so now the shots were no longer an option.

Since then my mother has been going to physical therapy to help her legs from recent knee surgery. She noticed her back was feeling better from the water therapy she has been going to. Water yoga!! I am not about to say anything; if it works I will encourage her to continue.

I share this story with you because I believe I may end up just like my mother if I don’t start doing something now to prevent deteriorated discs. I am told I already have some spots that are deteriorating. I don’t want my back getting worse and if I can share what has been successful for me, perhaps my experience will help others to find relief.
The yoga class I took over a year ago impacted so much I decided to check out the yoga instructor training course. There are five classes in the course and I had already taken the pre-requisite class. I found out that I could have taken all five classes but that was not possible for me working as much as I do. Plus what if I did not like it? I decided to sign up for one class. There were 15 women in the class, four were slightly older; myself included. The girls were in a much different place with their practice than I. They were almost competing with each other and bragging about teaching classes already. It was very different from anything I had experienced. Still I was open minded and refused to let it bother me. Each time I went to class I felt set apart from the rest of the girls. Two of the older women quit, the other one acted like she was 20 years old. I was embarrassed for her. Every week I sat among these girls forcing myself to smile and inner act with them, while in my head I was screaming. I was determined not to let their age get the better of me when they spoke of how easy it was to do twist up in a pretzel as if I could not. I was left out when they exchanged phone numbers to make plans to go to a yoga class outside of our classroom. Still I went every week. If I had not loved yoga so much I would have quite the class- but I am not a quitter (I do admit to quitting the class a hundred times over in my mind). Also I paid for the class I wasn’t about to throw away my hard earned money.

At the end of class we all had to teach a sequence. Mine was a restorative sequence for the hips. It was lovely. I was the ending sequence which meant I had to include the cool down sequence as well. When it was over everyone evaluated you via slips of paper they could commented on. I received great reviews from my classmates which was a shocking surprise. A couple of girls said I should seriously consider doing a guided meditation series. I laughed because I have heard this before. If I could change my voice I could do audio books. What fun that would be. I was just happy my yoga sequence was over with. I turned in my binder with one remaining class left to attend.

The last class could not have come soon enough. I did the yoga sequence instructed by another classmate, collected my binder and was on my way out when my teacher stopped me. She gave me a big hug and said, “I have truly enjoyed getting to know you. You are a wonderful lady and I can’t wait to see you out in the yoga world instructing.” I was so happy this was a perfect ending to my class. I bounced down the stairs, arms loaded with yoga paraphernalia when my binder slipped from my hands. There staring up at me was my final grade for the class. My smile couldn’t get any bigger.