That Was a Good Popping Sound, Right?

You might recall I recently hurt my back doing back bends. This is an ongoing saga. It is getting better, but good grief would I like it to end!

A few days after I hurt my back I had a massage. My therapist and I first assumed I had torn something, but that turned out to not be the case. At the end of 90 minutes he wasn’t sure what I had done, but the good news is that the massage helped. Within three days I had almost no pain. And then, five days after the massage, I fell asleep on the couch. I woke up in the middle of the night, decided I was too lazy to walk up the stairs, and went back to sleep.

In the morning the pain was back, and it was worse than before. I wanted to cry. I also headed on in to acupuncture.

Acupuncture was an interesting experience. I had needles mostly in my back and in a few spots on my legs. My acupuncturist reported to me that the skin around one needle (where I had the most pain) immediatly turned pink as soon as he put the needle in. Another needle burned. I have never had a burning experience in acupuncture before.

I don't like the experience, but it's worth it.

I don’t like the experience, but it’s worth it.

I left acupuncture and about six hours later was in yoga. Everyone agreed that moving was good for me. I could do anything that didn’t cause pain. Why not keep going to class? I saw no reason to stop even if some of my postures were extremely limited (and trust me, they are very limited right now in terms of depth, but who cares?).We were in the second set of wind removing posture (final part) when it happened. I had both legs pulled into my chest. It didn’t hurt, but I felt this need to release them. As I did my back made a loud POP! that completely freaked me out. I knew it was either very good or very bad.

Luckily, it was very good.

The relief that came over me was insane. My back felt soooo much better right away and for the rest of the night. The pain was still there, but it was greatly diminished. The next day the pain was still present, but better, and a new level of soreness had crept in making me think I had likely had a pinched nerve. And then things started getting better.

After two days with no class I returned to find my range of motion had improved. Probably no one else would have noticed this, but I did! And the popping came back, but this time in triangle. I didn’t get the same sense of relief this time around. This second pop was just as loud, and just as prevelant, but not as noticeable in terms of pain relief. Probably because the pain was already way down.

That was a normal sound, right?

That was a normal sound, right?

Things are looking up! I can do sit ups again, and I can almost grab my foot in SH2K. The other day I did camel with no pain (camel actually feels very, very good. go figure).I’ll have more to say about this whole practicing with a back injury thing in a future post. But the lesson for now? If you can go to class GO TO CLASS. Go even if you cannot do whatever it is you are used to doing. It is better than sitting at home. It is definitely better than sitting at work. 🙂

Yoga + Menstruation

In analyzing how people arrive at my blog, I learned that the most popular key word search was about yoga and menstruation. So I thought I would take this post to share my experiences on taking a Bikram yoga class while having my period.

I’m not sure what questions people have about taking Bikram while on your period. So if you have one, leave it in the comment section. If I have a thought I’ll respond or just write more posts. From what I can tell based on the searches, most people want to know if they can come to class when they are having their period. I would say yes, you can, unless a doctor tells you not to. However, I’ve come to class before when a doctor told me not to (cracked ribs), and I don’t regret it. I tell you this so you know who you’re dealing with. 🙂

I have horrible, horrible periods. Taking yoga when I am having them is generally a pretty rotten experience. I get what I like to call the rolling black fog which is exactly what it sounds like. I get dizzy, I see blackness, and making it through class is very, very tough. I also tend to sweat about 1000 times more. So gross. Way more gross than normal.

But things have gotten better lately, and I’ll tell you why: acupuncture.  I asked my acupuncturist to help alleviate some awful physical symptoms I experience outside of the yoga room which include: (a) massive abdominal cramps, (b) extreme tiredness, (c) lower backaches, and (d) general grumpiness. The cramps have also shown up in class, and they are a whole lot of no fun. They have brought me to the floor and kept me there more than once. I am so afraid of getting cramps in class that I will take advil before I go to class even if I don’t have cramps. That’s how bad they are if they come on in class.

So my acupuncturist has been working on this for 4-6 months now. Every month I come back with a new report, and he does more work. This time, all the major issues except the grumpiness were non-existent. I had no cramps at all. At all. This is a big deal because I have always had major cramps every month of every year since I was 15. I had no idea that in six-ish months they could be reduced to nothing through acupuncture. This is amazing.

My yoga was also better this time around. I still sweated 1000 more than is normal, but the rolling black fog was not as dense, didn’t show up as often, and didn’t stay for very long. I was very tired one afternoon after class and took a 90-minute nap. That could have been due to my period and taking class or not. I don’t really know.  Class was still difficult to get through for the first two days, but not like it normally is. It was at least 60% better.

In summary, here’s my take on the whole yoga while menstruating thing:

– it is not fun (for me)

– class is usually more difficult

– I sweat more

– I am terrified to get cramps during class

– acupuncture is worth it

That being said, going to class is better than not going to class even if it means taking a break. If you’re like me, and find yourself having awful menstrual cycles, you might consider acupuncture. It has helped me tremendously both in and out of the hot room. I personally don’t see any reason not to go to yoga while having my period.

So that’s my two cents on the subject.

Acupuncture + Yoga

I go to acupuncture once or twice a month. I go once a month to deal with things I am trying to improve through acupuncture, and I go twice a month if I am sick. My acupuncturist has stopped a sore throat in its tracks while I was on the table with needles in me twice. I love him. Personally, I believe in acupuncture. I’ve amassed too much personal evidence at this point to think otherwise.

I do not go to acupuncture for anything that has to do with yoga. However, my acupuncuturist has a yoga (non-Bikram) practice and loves to talk yoga shop with me. On Monday I got him to give me suggestions for how to do mountain. We’ll see how it goes. He’s got a good track record with me.

My acupuncturist encourages me NOT to go to class the day of or the day following treatment. I have never gone to acupuncture and then followed it with a Bikram class in the same day. That sounds like too much. My body needs to process the acupuncture treatment. However, I generally leave 24 hours between a treatment and class despite the fact that this continues to play out as a poor decision. I believe my acupuncturist means that if I get treatment from him on a Monday (even at 9:30 am), then the earliest I should go to class is Wednesday.

I like to believe I can go to class on Tuesday at 9:00am which is roughly 24 hours after the treatment. This turns out to be a fine decision once or twice a year. The rest of the time it sucks. For some reason, I continue to do it.

Let me start by saying that on Monday, when I had acupuncture, it was a wild and crazy experience. Probably the wildest I have ever experienced in my almost two years of going. My acupuncturist had to remove two needles from my legs that were hurting and wouldn’t stop. They hurt when he put them in, they hurt the entire time they were in, and they hurt coming out. Then the general area where they had been continued to hurt. It was an annoying throbbing sensation. There’s reasons for all this which I’m not going to try to get into because I can’t explain it super well. Don’t let it turn you off if you want to try acupuncture. I think it’s worth whatever discomfort I have to put up with.

So I followed up this lovely treatment by taking class Tuesday at 9:00am. We were literally on the second breath of the first breathing exercise, and I had come to the conclusion that this would be the class I actually died in. No matter how many times I may have thought I would die in class before, it really was going to happen today. We’re two minutes into class and all I can do is wonder why the fans are not on. It’s crazy hot in the room! Can’t the instructor see how badly we are all sweating and near death? Oh wait. You mean not everyone’s Breathe mat looks like they took it in the shower with them by the end of half-moon? It’s just me?

I snuck a look at everyone during party-time. No one was sweating at the level I was. This could only mean one thing: Buckle up for class and enjoy the ride. Something’s coming out, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

And it wasn’t.

I wanted to lay down on my mat for the entire warm-up series. I considered sitting out the entire standing series. I really thought this was an idea worth serious consideration. I did sit down – twice I think – and it did help. But damn! When we got to standing bow I could see some improvement on both sides, but I felt so bad I had to sit out second set. It was a good decision to sit out, but I was bummed. I wanted to know what was going to happen in standing bow. Twice during the standing series my legs pulsed in the area where the problem needles had been taken out the day before. Crazy, right? Never had that happen before.

The floor series got better – technically. I started to feel better, and I did the postures. But when we flipped over for spine-strengthening I smelled something awful, and that smell was me. I was face down in my sweaty mat, and it was foul.

By the end of class I felt better than when I had begun which is usually the case when I have a rough class.

Again I am reminded that we never know what’s happening with the person on the mat next to us. No one said anything to me, but my experience just reinforced that when someone looks like they are having a bad time, they are probably having a bad time. No need to judge. Maybe flick some water on them out of sympathy.

Does anyone else have any acupuncture and yoga stories? What happens for you?