Dr. Suess

"And will you succeed? Yes indeed! Yes indeed! Ninety Eight and Three Quarters guarenteed!"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Summer's Adventure

In 1997 I asked my doctor if I could do yoga. I wore AFO's (Ankle Foot Orthotics, they are the brace that goes from just below the toe, to just below the knee with a hinge at the ankle). I had had many issues with tendonitis, joint injuries ... several of which required surgery ...3 knee surgeries and shoulder. Countless steroid shots.

I needed help to walk up the stairs and down the stairs resulted more often than not in a tumble down the stairs. A gallon of milk was as likely as not to land on the floor. I dislocated my shoulder by slapping a friend in the shoulder as part of the musical we were in.

My ankles would twist in a heart beat, every single joint would hyper extend. I was born with hypermobile joint syndrome, but the weakness of the myasthenia gravis intensified the joint instability.

My doctor said that yoga was a very bad idea. Weak muscles, that only get weaker with use and unstable joints ... yoga was not likely, at that time, to make me stronger and the flexabilty would worsen .. in my case a bad idea.

Here I am 12 years later with lupus having effected so many joints ...the hyper extention is no longer an issue for almost any joint. My thumb can ALMOST still touch my arm, where I used to be able to lay it flat on my arm. My knees don't hyper extend, neither does my ankle, shoulders toes or knees. A few have gotten tight beyond what's normal.

I can walk up and then down a flight of stairs (although there are times I still fall). I no longer wear leg braces. In short, I'm healthier than I was 12 years ago. So, I asked again about Yoga, same doctor thought it was a GREAT idea and gave me the go ahead.

I'm not a person who breaks the ice easy. I don't like going to strange places and if I try something new, I'm likely to need a friend to do it with me.

But this summer, my determination to do something new and different ...and healthy ...drove me to seek out a yoga class. I found one, signed up and went to my first session on Tuesday.

I had trouble with a few of the poses, but mostly because of my weight, not ability. I LOVED the session. When I got home I wrote the following to my therapist:

I just came from my first yoga class. I absolutely loved it! I was afraid ... something new ...new people ... expectations ...and then the ever present fear of rejection ..for whatever reason, but in this situation, specifically my weight.
I also was afraid I'd be fairly miserable at being physically able to do anything.
I had a chance to talk beforehand to the instructor when I signed up. She asked me about my health issues (she was familiar with most of them) and said she knew how to help me make the appropriate modifications.
She also said she'd let the class know that it would be a bit longer to allow time to help me.

I showed up, everyone was incredibly nice and I felt absolutely no judgment. Lots of encouragement and hints for 'survival'. We started and the extra time turned out to be unncessary. She didn't need to help me with much. After class she said that my own instincts to modify appropriately were remarkable. She also asked me "Are you SURE you've never taken yoga before? ever?"

That made me feel good. I could do a large part of what we did, some, my weight is an issue, but most I could do. Balance has always been a particularly bad issue for me, i've spent WEEKS and hours in PT on balance ...until they gave up and said that I just needed to be careful. I was able to do the balance pose, at least the beginning pose.

She told me that my phase one was 'beautiful' and after class I got a lot of encouragement from the other class members. One guy said I'd be teaching before too long (a bit of an exaggeration,but his intent was very kind!)

Dr. Holt said I could go up to 3 times a week, the package I bought was 12 classes in 100 days, so I figure 2 times a week to start probably good. I can take it next fall at TCC for free if my classes don't conflict with the yoga classes.


It was amazing. I walked out of the class completely pain free for the first time in 15 years. The pain relief lasted for 3 hours and I'm still in less pain than I've been in a long time. I go again to my class tomorrow. I'm looking forward to this new adventure ... self discovery ... healthy ... mindfulness ...


  1. It's wonderful you found an exercise you enjoy doing. Take care, PK.

  2. That is too cool. I wish you the best in your classes.