I started my yoga journey 2 years ago hoping that all the stretching that I had heard about would assist the nagging, persistent and sometimes sharp pain that I lived with in my lower back and hip. Needless to say I did not hold out much hope as I had been through the mill of doing exercise, staying away, riding my horse, resting, physiotherapists, chiropractors, acupuncturist and even esoteric healers trying to find the root of the pain and in that a way to fix it.
Initially the deep stretches of Trikonasana (Triangle pose) and forward folds seemed to bring some relief. Pigeon and the hip openers seemed to be unlocking something that had been stuck for years. Perhaps the new movements I was exposing my body to were getting the joints oiled and maybe this was what I had waited for for so long.
The relief, however, was short lived and over time the pain became worse with each yoga practice – especially the very strenuous classes. I sought more advice and more medical intervention but with no conclusion. I left for my annual holiday at the end of 2015, despondent and in pain. Yoga Teacher Training was only a month or so away, how was I going to complete my classes if I was in so much pain. I chose to ignore this and enjoy my holiday, a run on the beach and a horse ride and I was flat on my back for 4 days unable to move. The pain was excruciating! So I rested and accepted that nothing I was doing was helping. Rest was the only solution.
I returned home and decided to start practicing yoga within my limits and pain threshold. Gentle, beginner classes to see where it had all gone wrong and why. I also started Yoga Teacher Training and did a Budokon workshop. In this workshop, the strangest thing happened – I was encouraged to practice differently which did nothing to add to my pain and finally there was some hope! The issue was not with my spine – my spine began to move with each roll and curl and in that there was some relief. The movement finally helped!
I knew I was on to something. I analysed every pose, I practiced moderately, building strength as I went, examining in minute detail each and every pain I felt and when I felt it. Like a scientist, everything was put under the microscope. My daily practice was documented until I knew what triggered the pain.
With this, I made my own diagnosis – I had lived with a damaged Sacroiliac Joint for years. The diagnosis was clear when the cause of injury was listed as “possible fall from a horse”, “may be made worse by exercise including yoga” and “the injury will be felt on the opposite side as the trauma or fall”. So I had a diagnosis at last and hopefully one this time that was correct.
Then I spent hours finding out how to fix my SI Joint – and quite simply in an old yoga journal I found my answer. 20 minutes later I was completely and totally pain free. I slept a full night with no pain and no medication. I cannot explain the relief, the joy and the sheer happiness to be able to get out of bed in the morning, pain free. My joy was short lived following a yoga class that day but I had the remedy to fix it. Once again, I “clicked” my SI joint back in and I was happy again!
So what have I learnt in this process – patience! Patience to not push my body beyond where it can go and the faith that if I listen to the feedback my body is giving me, I will find the answers. I know what I am capable of and when to push and when to hold back. And with that has come wisdom.
“Sthira Sukham Asanam”
Asana (posture) is steady and comfortable. Performed with willingness as well as acceptance. Firm as well as pleasant. Strong as well as relaxed. Maintained with effort as well as ease.
Written by Lara Bryant