Friday, November 23, 2012

My Asteroids

One of my favorite holidays has always been Thanksgiving. I especially love the day after even more. Jeff and I take the kids to his parents' house, go to Camelot Tree Farm, cut down our own tree, return home to start Christmatizing. I then have a turkey sandwich with lots of cranberries, a glass of egg nog (without the cheer), and then finish with the decorating.  We then turn off all the inside lights, save the Christmas tree and outside lights, and admire the beauty. We then pick up our children. When we turn down our street, and they begin to see the twinkling lights, their excitement turns to squeals. Magical! We are blessed to have huge windows in our old old house, so the sight is breath taking. This will all happen (I hope) according to plan this afternoon, but if the past couple of days is any indication of how today will turn out, I'm in for a ride!

It started early Wednesday morning. My depression took on a new low. Menopause sucks! Sucks, I tell you!!! It seems no matter what I did to try to put some light into my day, my mood kept getting sadder and darker as the day progressed. I had been preparing food all day to have Thanksgiving at my parents' house. This year, my lovely sister and her family spent it with us (she's from GA, so having her there was a real treat) along with Jeff's parents. Therefore, we all needed to be sure we had enough food, so the preparation would be taking me all day.

It was around 7:00 Wednesday night when I realized I had forgotten to pick up my hormone replacements from the pharmacy on Monday. I had been two days without it. (Now before anyone gets on my case about taking hormones, this is not estrogen. It's a bio-identical progesterone made from plants, and though there is no long-term studies about the risks of getting cancer from this bio-identical, not taking it would mean disaster for my family, my friends, my co-workers, and fun!) So anyway, I realized this too late. The pharmacy was closed. Well then I started crying, and Jeff agreed I needed to figure out a way to get a hold of my pharmacist. I called their after hours hotline, and got a call from the pharmacist an hour later. While waiting for the call, I made my gluten-free pie crusts. I cannot understate the difficulty of making these pie crusts--they don't stick together, and what I had was a crumbling mess. Of course this didn't help my mood, and I cried even harder trying to press the crusts into the pie plates. Eventually I got it to work, and to be honest, it was the best pie crust I've ever had. Bar none! Tear-soaked and all!

Finally the pharmacist called and I explained my situation. I told him Jeff could meet him out at the clinic to pick up the medicine since he was on that side of town at the kids' karate class. He hesitated a few seconds, and I lost it--the crying started up again. Hearing my distress, he said he'd go out there and pick up the meds and drop them off at my house!!! Well, the blubbering increased. I knew there was a reason I liked this pharmacist more than any others in town. When he arrived, I threw my arms around him and said, "You've no idea what this means to me!"  And he gently said, "I think I do." Amazingly, he charged me only for the price of the prescriptions and nothing more.

Shortly after, Jeff and the kids arrived home. My oldest son said to me, "Dad told me about what's wrong. I'm so sorry about your asteroids." Well that snapped me out of it as only children can do! I laughed and laughed (and some crying mixed into that--I've had lots of practice). We had to explain that it was my hormones that were off kilter, and the hormone is called estrogen. Estrogen, asteroids....hmmmm....made sense to him.

So now as I sit here, Jeff is busily bringing up the decorations preparing for our day. I do know that today will be a wonderful day filled with beauty and love. I am so glad that I have a sense of humor about all this--warped as it may be. My wish for all of you is to have a safe, peaceful, and tear-free holiday. Cheers!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Final Reflections on Youthful Glow

It amazes me that no matter how many times I show up for my yoga practice, I experience something new with each pose if I'm mindful during the process. This is especially true for the poses I do on a daily basis. I've been doing the sequence from the Master Class section of Yoga Journal for a couple of weeks now and I notice different sensations in my body, I am very aware of what my mind is doing, and how I feel afterwards.

A couple of the times I did this sequence, I was unable to get into a relaxed supported shoulder stand. I adjusted and readjusted to hit that sweet spot, but nothing worked, and I left the practice feeling frustrated. However, a few days before that, it seemed that the supported shoulder stand was effortless. I did not keep track of the time I was in the posture, but I would guess it was between five and seven minutes. And I felt so light and free when I came out of the pose.

My biggest hangup with doing yoga is my expectations of my practice. I "expect" that I'll feel better after yoga, that my muscles will soften and respond, that my mind will remain peaceful throughout my practice. What I find frustrating is that when these "expectations" do not turn out as I want them to, I become disappointed. So, what I continually work on is to just be with my body, my thoughts, and allow my practice to unfold as it should. If I can remember the saying, all in good time, that helps me to put my practice into perspective.  So when I have days where my practice doesn't leave me feeling better or freer, I just need to remember, that maybe just showing up for my yoga practice is enough. I also think when my practice becomes more challenging, I may actually be experiencing new levels of deepening into the stretch, and my body is trying to make the adjustments needed so that my body will be safe.

For all those who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope your day is filled with many blessings. Namaste.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More Reflections on Youthful Glow

In my previous post on Youthful Glow I shared each pose that Yoga Journal had published in its Master Class section of the periodical. Now, I'm just going to share my feelings after each day of practice rather than going into each individual asana.

Sunday I was stiff! I had taken Saturday off due to the fact we were running around, and quite frankly did not make the effort to take 15 minutes out of my busy day. What I noticed is that my shoulders stiffened again. I tried to remain optimistic by reassuring myself that this is a process: some good days, some days where I need to practice more self love. Sunday was one of those days.

Monday I felt sooooo good that I practiced the sequence again in the evening! Too much of a good thing? I don't think so. It just reaffirmed what I felt on Sunday: some days good, some days challenging.

Tuesday OK, so today I squirmed in the Supported Shoulderstand with a chair. For some reason, my lower back did not like the chair today. My cushion either wasn't positioned right, or I may just have had one of those more challenging day.

But overall I have to say! My upper back pain is not so intense as it has been. I can sit at the computer for longer stretches now without having to take physical breaks. I really do love this sequence!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Reflections on "Youthful Glow" from Yoga Journal

In the November 2012 issue of "Yoga Journal" Leigh Ferrara along with Desiree Rumbaugh share a sequence in the "Master Class" section of the magazine. As a person who has dealt with chronic pain much of my life, this sequence looked like it held some sound possibilities to incorporate into my daily yoga practice.

The area of my body that is most affected by pain is my upper back and shoulders. and this sequence focuses on opening the heart center and releasing tension in the shoulder region.

So three days ago, I started the following sequence:

Sequence: Prasarita Padottanasana: Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend, variation

Chair Twist

Chair Shoulder Stretch

Dhanurasana: Bow Pose

Salamba Sarvangasana: Supported Shoulderstand, with a chair

Click on this link: Youthful Glow and you will be taken to the Yoga Journal website where you can read the article and see the poses. You will see how the pose is supposed to look. Make sure you are physically able to do these asanas before trying these. Be gentle as you proceed...

OK, now my reflections:
When I started this sequence on Wednesday, I noticed that my back was quite stiff. I was able to clumsily get into chair positions and notice that my tightness started to soften, but only a bit. My upper back cracked and I had an endorphin rush. It felt as if I were in a chiropractor's office and she was adjusting my upper back. AAAAHHHHHH.

On Thursday morning, I felt a sensation in my shoulders during the Chair Shoulder Stretch that felt oddly painful. I backed out of it slightly and tried breathing into my shoulder tightness. I stayed for only two minutes (maybe less--we tend to expand time when we are in uncomfortable situations.)  But I got up feeling a bit better than I did on Wednesday.

This morning, Friday, I noticed something completely different. My shoulders no longer had the pain in the chair shoulder stretch. It felt as if I had been doing this posture for months, but it had only been three days! I also varied the supported shoulderstand with a chair, by gently lifting my legs off the back of the chair and held them at a 90 degree angle to the floor. I was able to get into a deep relaxation in that posture. However, one thing I did not expect: I was feeling my emotions without panicking. I have been dealing with some uncomfortable emotions for a while, and it felt completely safe today to feel those feelings. So this is what is meant by having an open heart. I do not have any expectations for the day, and that right there is freeing.

So for those of you who struggle with upper back pain and tension, I suggest you try this. I am thrilled I found this sequence. I will continue in the next few weeks documenting my reflections of this sequence. I am very optimistic for some very positive results!