3 Aug 2013

Back to the Blog

It's been a while. I stopped writing for many reasons, one was I couldn't remember why I was writing this blog in the first place.  Feel like I've gone through a bit of a growth spurt of sort, or perhaps some growing pains, nothing much to say.  I practiced, thought, wrote, studied, taught, learnt, and got on with life and that was enough.

February my old painful right knee took a major turn for the worse.  So practice was paired back to only what I could do without pain.  But for a few weeks everything was painful.  Even sleeping.

Two weeks ago I finally had surgery on the knee.

I had avoided this for too long, thinking I could somehow magically fix my knee with yoga, will power, and muscle.

Nope.  Torn menisci don't work that way.  Really.  I tried.

The last straw was bodyboarding, an enthusiastic kick to catch the wave well and truly locked my knee.  The only way out a partial meniscectomy.  Have been feeling very lucky that my knee locked in the sea, and not up a mountain, that there just so happens to be a leading authority on knees in the local hospital who could operate on me the day I hobbled in on crutches in excruciating pain. Also that it is summer holiday, my work schedule was light anyway, lessons could be easily cancelled and covered while I recuperate.

Why was my knee such a mess in the first place??? Oh yeah, yoga is bad for you I can hear people thinking....no no it wasn't the yoga.  In fact I'm always so careful with my yoga practice, it was everything else.

The ski accident, being hit by three cars in my life, breaking my right leg the first time, and damaging the knee the second, extreme sports, followed by extreme web-surfing and sewing, losing muscle...earthquake induced fear, stress, indulging in more coffee and sugar than I should have.  At times focussing perhaps too much on the spiritual and philosophical side of yoga, not working out deep pelvic muscle enough..oh the list goes on and one.

The first time I had knee problems was after a ski accident, ten years ago, very minor, no doctor, pain walking for a few weeks.  All fine for years.  Would have little pains in the months between ski and bodyboarding season.  Muscle tone down a bit. All the skiers and boarders around me are a collection of pain and injuries, that's the world of extreme sports.  Bit of pain is normal.

Then came that big old earthquake and nuclear disaster.  I sat in front of my computer for hours and hours, paralysed with fear, researching, reading, watching the winds, checking radiation levels.  Weeks of this.  Yes I did practice yoga, but it was more of an exercise in mental health maintenance.  A primary flow with Sharath.  Working on the breath and dristi, reading the Bhagavadgita. And most importantly no bodyboarding. Little did I know what a vital role this sport had played in keeping me pain free for more than a decade until I couldn't do it.

I didn't realise I was strong until I got weak.

So one day, doing the usual yoga, my hip popped.  Horrible sounding, never heard it that loud before.  They had often clicked a lot.  But this was an almighty pop.  The next day I couldn't walk up and down stairs, or much at all due to the pain in my knee.  What the hell?  I've read all the relevant articles about knees and lotus, stiff hips and pressure on menisci.  So what was going on?  Went to the doctor, and received the news that I had congential hip dysplysia.  Basically shallow hip sockets, which I had managed to keep under control by coincidentally using all the right muscles bodyboarding.  Stop the boarding, lose the muscles and femurs wobbled and popped and damaged my menisci.  On the one hand I was pleased that I hadn't done something so 'wrong' with my yoga practice, but on the other devastated that I was deformed!!!

So, I guess I hadn't worked on those muscles enough, and well to cut a long story short, many knocks to the menisci caused a tear in February (while jumping up from sitting on a cold cold night.....) thought it was getting better by June, I could walk, climb up and down stairs, ride my bike and yoga was getting back to 'normal'.  Then bam.

So surgery.  Now I am feeling more positive, this pain has gone on and off for years.  Finally it has been treated.  But I have to accept that Ashtanga yoga isn't enough to keep my thighs in their sockets. Need to supplement and literally work my arse a lot more.  Get my bones back in line.

I am very thankful to be teaching Yoga and to have this opportunity to understand my body in more depth.  Physiotherapy is just fascinating, I am drilling the guy with questions.

Determined to come out of this stronger, stronger than before. But building upon the spiritual foundations I have carved out in times of pain over the last years.  Pain really is a great teacher.  But I've had enough for now thank you.  At least these varieties of pain.

So time to rebuild my practice on all levels from step one.  Today I could finally move about the house without crutches.  Tomorrow I shall start with the Sun Salutations. Pranayama.  Meditation. Physio exercises, including light weights.


  1. Hey there lady! So glad to see a post from you! I'm off to google shallow hip joints here in a second, but I just wanted to say first that I'm glad to read you again. Sorry for your joints but inspired by your attitude to getting the muscles online and ready to do double-time. Good luck and happy blogging!

  2. > Nope. Torn menisci don't work that way.
    > Really. I tried.

    Had a torn ACL on the left leg. I did standing for about 6 months (much to the sadness of my teacher who blamed himself for the injury - happened during a soccer kick-about at his batchelor weekend!).

    Anyway overtime I added Primary and then intermediate and eventually was split to 3rd. But then I had some back issues and had to build back from Half Primary to Full Intermediate (just this month).

    And so it goes. I was 44 when I did my ACL and I'm now 48. :-)


  3. Hey there,

    Thanks Doug, it's so encouraging to hear about other people's experiences with injury. Seems, at times, like recovery is never going to happen, it always does, but when in the midst of it, I find it so hard to be patient.

    Glad you are back on track again, and again and again eh x

  4. Hello !

    I discovered your photo blog and this one not so long ago and I spent many hours looking at your beautiful pictures one by one and learning all about your Japan and yoga adventures. I always been fascinated by Japan culture & aesthetic. Like you I was first drawn to its religious and meditative traditions. I'm glad you are back writing. I can confirm that there is some people out there interested in your stories and people sharing your experiences. I broke my leg last year which I think was more difficult emotionally than physically! Like you I also need my daily yoga for my stability. Yoga did helped me to heel but it took much longer then I thought. We have to be patient and compassionate with ourselves ! My injury helped me to learn that and to appreciate my (now) healthy body. Thanks again for sharing your life stories with us. I really admire you ! You seemed to have taken many of your dreams seriously ! :-) (I also REALLY like your yoga bags !!! Are you able to deliver to Canada ? ;-)) Good luck with recovery ! I wish you the best and will make a little prayer for you. :-) Ève

  5. Eve, hello!

    Thank you for the kind comment. Yes, pain and injury do teach us to appreciate health. Am trying my hardest not to be impatient.

    Makes me really happy to hear that someone is enjoying my little glimpse into Japan. I do love where I live, sometimes doesn't feel like living my dream though, more like I just wandered along and ended up doing what I'm going where I am.....

    As for the bags, sure I can send anywhere you like ; ) Let me know if there is one in particular you like, it's funny there seems to be the one perfect bag for everyone...which one is yours?