Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Addressing Things that Begin with 'Ps' with Meditation and Turmeric

I'm on a regular schedule now: three studio classes a week, no excuses. It feels good to be back into a routine, knowing no matter how crazy my week gets I WILL be on the mat at least three times.

Today I woke up to kiss my husband good-bye, rolled over to go back to sleep, and immediately felt a nagging pain in my right hip. I attributed it to having spent too much time sleeping on the other side, causing my leg bone to be out of alignment and under-supported (damn child-bearing hips).

I woke up to my alarm a couple hours later, and staggered out of bed, with the actually worse than naggy once I started to use it feeling none diminished. It took me breakfast, coffee, and free-association before I remembered what this sensation portended: I had strained my psoas in class yesterday. Lame! We only did two Crescent Lunges, and I didn't even go that deeply into them! It was probably the transitions from lunge to Warrior III and Standing Split. The temptation to stretch it to relieve the discomfort is as strong as last time, even though this time I know better: stretching will prolong it, rest and heat will heal it.

So, you know, if you take a tough yoga class, and later that day or the next day get a funny burning kind of pain in the front of your hip socket with or without a strong urge to stretch, you probably strained your psoas. Don't stretch it. Apply moist heat one or twice a day, and continue to baby it for a few days after it stops hurting.
This is a psoas. Notice that it is a big-ass, and important muscle. It connects the upper and lower halves of your body. Any kind of lifting knee toward your chest action is managed primarily by your psoas. Why don't you give it a nice pat, and say 'Hello' and 'Thank you'?

I've never sustained a serious injury yoga-ing. I strained my psoas once before during a class that was very Crescent Lunge heavy. Actually, it wasn't as bad as this, I just proceeded to make it worse by trying to stretch it till it quit feeling funny. So how did I not notice by body needed a break? Well, my job writing takes up twelve hours of my week that were all in use before, so I've been flirting with the line between stressed out and mentally unstable for a couple weeks now trying to find a way to fit in everything I want to do in a week.

I know I desperately need these three yoga classes to get me out of my head and into my body and slow me down a bit. But a yoga class isn't magic: it's totally possible to spend that whole hour or ninety minutes going over your to-do list, or telling yourself how much you suck at this, or a million other not-so-yoga-esque things. I had some lovely moments of being present to my breath, of just observing and feeling my body move without getting hung up on being tired, or how tough the second half of this sequence was going to be, but clearly I wasn't present enough to notice when my psoas muscle announced it needed a break.

Which is frustrating, because I'm not sure what I can, or should, do about that. I can't realistically reduce my schedule any appreciable amount at the moment. And my schedule is obviously interfering with my sleep, and with my remedy for that interference, yoga! I've got to stop making excuses and meditate more. Maybe that's the missing puzzle piece, and my cranky psoas muscle is my body's way of telling me that Asana practice is just not going to cut it anymore, time to level up. Hmmm...

Alright, I'll give that a shot for the rest of this month, and I'll keep you updated on my progress. Without an accountability partner I'll never manage.

On another note, I don't think I previously mentioned that I have eczema, which is an autoimmune inflammatory skin disorder-no biggie, I just get patches of red, itchy flaky skin in pretty predictable areas when my skin's too dry, or I'm under a lot of stress. It's gotten a lot worse under the previously mentioned stress, and I was beginning to think I'd have to call my dermatologist and try the next stronger level of topical steroid. This is something I was not happy about, because as you use stronger stuff to treat it, the condition tends to escalate to psoriasis, and from there many patients develop rheumatoid arthritis, a far more serious autoimmune inflammatory disorder in which your body attacks, and destroys, your joints. I'm a write/yoga instructor/aerialist. I need my joints. Having heard a lot about the amazing anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric, I bought a bottle turmeric extract for only $10, and I'm thrilled to report that after less than a week after I started using less than the recommended dose for the minimum recommended times daily, my eczema is almost completely back in remission.

So, you know, if you're dealing with any kind of autoimmune inflammatory disorder: Crohn's Disease, Irritable Bowl Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis, Eczema, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc., absolutely go buy turmeric and give it a try. Of course, keep right on taking any meds you've been prescribed as they've been prescribed to you, but do discuss any changes in your condition (fingers crossed: improvements!) with your doctor, as a change in treatment may be warranted.
Fair warning: it doesn't taste great, and it will stain anything it touches a vivid shade of yellow. Here's 19 more great things about turmeric!

Live Omily,

1 comment:

  1. Update: Today I felt like the Patron Yoga Saint of the Psoas when I found myself sitting next to a marathon-runner on the train today. I overheard him complaining of tightness and pain way up toward his hip socket in spite of carefully stretching his quad muscle. I immediately jummped in to enlighten him, explaining the psoas muscle, and some easy stretches for it. Yay good deed for the day!