Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yoga Butt

My friend Anna tells me there is a technical term for what ails me: yoga butt. Don't laugh, it's a technical term!
And no, it doesn't mean the beach-ready, hot pants wearing type of yoga butt we are all told we are aspiring to, but rather, as she puts it:

SI inflammation/instability often confused with sciatica

Yup, that's what I got. That's what a whole bunch of yoga practitioners I know have, too. Let me tell you how I think it all started with me...

I did a lot of Ashtanga. A Lot. Every day, primary series, with all vinyasas, for several years. Then I started to get hurt - sore wrists, sore hamstrings, sore knees, sore lower back, sore neck. It got to the point where I would dread getting on my mat in the morning. But, you know, yoga makes you feel better, right? So the more yoga I do the better I will feel, right?

Hmm. The end result seems to be that I have overstretched some ligaments deep in my hips, so my whole pelvic area is not as stable as it should be. (Yes, I have talked about this at length before, I know!)
A word of warning: if your hip structure doesn't want to do supta kurmasana, or any of those other pretzel poses, don't. Otherwise you will end up like me...

That's why I went looking for a kinder way to practice and teach yoga, and, thank goodness, I found it. But the legacy of my silly, joint-compromising past lives on.

Visiting the chiropractor has helped a lot. In fact I am thinking of recommending him for canonization. But. He wants me to do asymmetrical strengthening with more attention to the weaker side - and the first time I did that, I dislocated again and had to go trotting back for another adjustment.

So I am sticking to really simple stuff - the fab sacrum sequence from Yoga for Wellness by Gary Kraftsow - he has a dvd of this out now too!
I toss in a few other poses, almost all symmetrical, no one leg forward one leg back stuff, and definitely definitely no pigeon. That pose, much as I love it, is lethal to my current condition.

In fact, I am finding that the poses which feel 'right' are strength builders, mostly with my back at least a little supported - like locust (and variations), boat (and variations), bridge, gentle versions of urdvha prasarita padasana, and of course, the not cat-cow, chakravakasana.

On the recommendation of my mom-in-law, who is a naturopath, I am also taking the supplement MSM which is hopefully going to help with healing.

It appears that my yoga butt is just going to take time to heal. And patience. And we all know how well-endowed I am with patience. Maybe I should get some hot pants to tide me over?


Linda Sama said...

love this post, nadine! I think I might have the same thing, despite what Dr. NC told me at KYM in January -- I have pain that is localized on the right side of lumbar spine, near sacrum....and I just got that same DVD yesterday!

I got it for my husband, but I'm doing it too!

peace, sister....

Luckymortal said...

Thank you thank you thank you

for this honest post.

You'd get the idea that a good number of yoga teachers are some kind of immortals who never suffer these types of injuries from pushing too hard.

I guess we're initially drawn to things we're good at, so a lot of us who get into yoga are very flexible by nature. It's so easy to forget that self abuse is not the point....

Julie's journey said...

I do really really gentle yoga for really really stiff people and it suits me fine. Did the "bird" pose once in a Les Mills Body Balance class and ended up more like a dead bird - never again! Hope you feel better and stronger soon.

Kelly C. said...

WONDERFUL post! i can relate both to your tales of woe from days gone by (ashtanga gave me *yoga shoulder* about 12 years ago and now it's my mission as a teacher to use my abilities to prevent such a fate from falling on my students!) as well as your journey to kinder yoga. thank you for this post.
Wishing you a speedy recovery!
and thanks for the link!! *)

Marya said...

Thanks for a great post. I read your blog, when I have time, and love your honesty.
I too have "yoga butt" (thanks for giving it a name!) Although mine is hamstring attachment. I literally call it my "pain in the ass"!
I teach as well and think students can really appreciate it when teachers say they are working on things (through injury, moving slowly, challenges, etc.)
As a great yoga teacher once said, "it's yoga practice, not yoga performance!"
May your butt be well.

sas said...

Nadine - thank you so much for sharing this. It lead me to getting Gary's DVDs and they are wonderful. I was taking some yoga classes that kept hurting my back and neck over and over again. I thought I was doing something wrong - but when I stopped doing the yoga the pain was much less. Now to strengthen and heal! The entire process has been a great learning experience for me.

Bonnie said...

I have never herd it called yoga butt before, but that actually is a pretty good term. So many yogi's I know have this

Anonymous said...

To be fair, I didn't coin the term "yoga butt." I borrowed it from Leslie Kaminoff, a longtime Desikachar pupil. He calls the practices we learned at KYM "ugly yoga" -- lovingly, of course. I'm a proud practitioner of ugly yoga!