About an hour ago, while I was on the floor on my yoga mat doing my stretching, I heard the low mournful sound of a faraway train.
As I stretched my limbs, I thought of how I’d heard this sound in the dead of night. And how I’d always wondered where it was headed. It seemed a sad thought to be plunging in the darkness toward a destination in the dark of night.
Several of you have asked me about the yoga stretching I do twice per day. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before. But I’ll go over it a bit again.
By the time I was 30, I had to have back surgery. I could barely walk. I used a cane. To walk from my house to the car was so painful I can still recall my tiny mincing steps. The surgery really didn’t help. I had a pretty good seven months, then it was back where I started.
It never occurred to me at the time that there was something I myself could do about it. I depended upon doctors too much back then.
And then my life changed when, and I don’t recall how it came about, I visited this sports medicine doctor in San Antonio. She was fantastic.
Instead of talking surgery and strong pain pills, which I didn’t like to take, she showed me these yoga stretching exercises. She sent me home with pages of what to do, how to do them.
I was just turning 40, and I recall thinking: how on earth could this help? But I dove into them and did exactly as she told me to do.
Within a few months I’d lost about 20 pounds, probably from the sheer movement. (Wish it still worked that way.)
And the sciatica that had plagued me much of my life was gone. Gone! I couldn’t believe it.
But I have stuck to that regimen and do them twice per day no matter what is going on. My day is sort of arranged around them.
Seventeen years later. Yes, I’m overweight. The ankle injury that’s been so difficult has put about thirty more pounds on the scale that I’m desperate to get off. I’m hoping this spring I can do more in the yard and get some of it off. Still, no sciatica.
It takes about 20 minutes twice per day. First thing in the morning, I get down on my bedroom floor. I keep the yoga mat and a tightly wrapped towel close by. And I start the exercises. If I feel stiff, I stretch in other ways that aren’t on my list.
When we wake up in the morning, most people are running around the kitchen, making coffee, getting kids to school (for you younger ladies), and our body simply isn’t ready.
The yoga stretching is my way of transitioning from sleep to daytime activities. I would no more think of just getting up and taking a shower and heading for the kitchen than I would fly.
As I stretch, I feel my body start to relax into the movements. I feel the tightness that has crept in overnight begin to ease. And then I take my morning shower and start my day. Pain free.
In the evening, before my meal, I do them again. I have learned that it is as much mental as it is physical.
My evening ritual of stretching allows me time to process the day, put it away, and ease toward night and sleep.
Then I take my evening shower to further relax my body. I do some stretching while standing in the shower too. Like putting my hands against the tiles and stretching the back of my legs. I feel the tightness leaving my legs.
I don’t even recall how it was I came to go to this doctor all those years ago, but it completely changed my life. I was pain free for the first time in years. Not that I still didn’t hurt myself lifting and doing things without thinking, but now, with the ankle injury, there is less chance of that. Because my ankle will stop me before my back gets to that point.
It might not work for everyone. But it did absolute wonders for me.