I missed my Yoga class today by choice. Mark Whitwell , states in his book : "Yoga of Heart", "Healing happens for individuals, relationships, community and the world when we participate in life in the form it is already given".
I had planned for two whole days to take a 7 pm yoga class. My thoughts were excited to return to a full 90 minute meditation in practise which is what I like to call a lengthy asana/pranayama class. I was looking forward to being 'instructed' and taken outside of my own head. I was struggling to remain present in my moments as my mind kept telling a story that I was not yet ready to 'let go' of and as a result, could not quite participate fully in observation of my moments. I had been hurt. I wanted space from this hurt, just for a moment.
Then, the phone rang. "Hello. "
Hubby "what's up?"
Me: "Uh, getting ready to head to yoga".
Hubby: "I am not feeling so hot"
Me: "I am sorry. Mm, can you rest up? Take some Ibuprofen?"
Hubby: "yeah but ..."
Me: "But what?"
Hubby: "Are we cooking these veggies tonight?"
Me: "No, I am going to Yoga. I will do it this weekend."
Hubby: " Ah, they can't wait til this weekend, they will go bad. Ok, you go to yoga and I will cook the veggies." (Did I detect a sound of disdain?)
Me: Silence as I wanted to scream. Feeling absolutely horrible for not wanting to go home and help my hubby out. Totally debating if I should focus on my self- which is a ok with me. I need to take care of me as well, oh god, why does this have to happen when I need my yoga class the most!!!!?
And on and on my little thought processes complained. Then, I stopped. Noticed what I was doing. I have the freedom, the tools to make a choice. I have everything I needed right then and there in that moment. I can choose to access that space in my own mind and body that gives me the exact same results as attending a 'yoga class'. It is called 'life'.
"Yoga is the movement of the life current... into its inherent relationships, the body, the breath and perceptions, our experience. To merge, to be with our experience rather than react to our experience, is yoga. Then we are no longer clogging our system with our reaction. The energy of life flows." - Mark Whitwell.
I can experience "Yoga" at any given moment. I decided to take my Yogic practice home with me, forgoing the asana practice, instead- finding the yogic experience through direct participation with relationship. I chose to go home, and practice the 'letting go' of my expectation, the hurt, the perspective that fueled the hurt, opened my heart to my hubby, and tried to fully participate in the moment. Making the decision was easy, putting it into practice once I was home- was the challenge.
I had been hurt by words spoken and to be present in the same space that was a constant reminder of the 'hurt' was difficult. I avoided eye contact for a good half hour, then I decided that I did not need to hear or receive anything from my hubby, that I had all I needed in this moment. I did not need his hugs or acknowledgement or his smile or touch that at this moment, I needed to be loving to self and commit to being fully present with self and with the relationship towards my hubby without the preconceived 'need' from hubby. I chose to 'let go' in just this moment.
And together, we prepared meals and dessert together: Vegan chocolate Mousse and Dharma Shala Soup!!
Dharma Shala Soup took quite a bit of preparation! The simplest of soups , totally vegan and vibrant with energy as the ingredients include chard, kale, leeks, onions, ginger, olive oil, and veggie broth. Simple yes. However, for a restless mind, preparing this meal was a 'meditation' in practice. I chose to be present. I chose to attend to the cutting of the veggies, the washing of the veggies, the attention to my environment. "I see, the cutting board. I feel the knife in my hand. I see you- hubby. " All without judging, without expecting, without hoping or manipulating the conversation is some way as to achieve a 'goal'. I instead practiced 'yoga'. I chose to be mindful, just noticing without judging. I chose to let go of my hurt just for this moment. Instead, focusing on the life experience. The first half hour was torture. I was hurt and wanted a solution. However, the words of Mark Whitwell kept resonating in my ears: "Yoga is the direct devotion, participation and intimacy with Life as it is already Given, whatever it is altogether! This is what reduces duhkha (restriction or pain), nothing else."
And so , I focused on a deep breath, then I looked at hubby and said "I see you." Smiled and thanked him for making me a better person. Told him I needed to forgive him and he hugged me and said he never meant to hurt me.
And now , I sit, with a tummy full of yummy vegan chocolate mousse- that I made participating in my moment, a moment that I would have missed out on- if I would have chosen to stay inside of myself and not allow my mind, my body to participate in the experience of 'relationship' other than my own. A memory now, that will reinforce the ability of the 'process' to create change in my heart, body, and mind.
Relationships suck sometimes because getting hurt- totally sucks. But, the process of remaining present, the process of forgiving, of loving, of being compassionate to self and to others- deepens the connection to self and others. In it's irony, relationship is necessary to live life to the fullest, to help us see beyond our own selfishness, to learn compassion to self, to others, to learn how to forgive, to learn what we are capable of and that we most assuredly- have all we need already within ourselves.
The irony of this story, is that I chose to act in love to myself first. I chose to listen to my need for healthy relationship, my need to learn to let go of my pain and the only way for me to do this- is to directly confront the pain- being in it's presence and proactively 'letting go' by participation in the life experience that was playing out- preparing meals with hubby. I intend to live in freedom.
"The cultural obsession of looking for perfection diminishes our noticing the perfection that is already established in us as life and abundantly given." Mark Whitwell.
Vegan Chocolate Mousse:
This recipe was taken from "Raw Food, Real World" by Sarma Melngailis. She owns a cool kick ass Raw Vegan Restaurant in Greenwich New York called 'Pure Food and Wine'
2 cups coconut meat (baby coconut is best I think!)
3/4 cup coconut water, at room temperature
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
In a Vita-mix or high speed blender, puree ALL ingredients! Then transfer to bowls or cups to chill in the fridge or eat right away! I prefer it chilled with a little fruit on top or whipped cream.
The hardest part is getting the baby coconut open and scooping all the insides out but it is so FUN!!!
Dharma Shala Soup
It doesn't interest me if there is one God or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
if you are prepared to live in the world with it's harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have been told, in that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God.
To all my crossfit enthusiast that have walked through my door post a back injury, this one is for you.
First of all, let me start off by saying, deadlifts are not bad. They are not good. They are what they are to you, at this time in your life. If you embrace this form of movement, go into the posture with grace and power. Skill and Will. Knowing what you are capable of because you have taken the time to really inquire both with logic and with Sensory Integration skills that help you to isolate and identify each muscle you need to power up in this pose.
Let's begin with a mechanistic view of this pose. In a initial movement of a deadlift position, the knees are bent, the hips are hinged, and the trunk is forward, coming infront of your Center of Gravity and outside of your base of support. It is mostly taught, to have the lumbar spine 'flexed' or in a posterior pelvic tilt. Mechanistically, we know that in physics when this occurs, the amount of 'torque' load at Lumbar vertebrae 3 mostly and 4, is going to increase tremendously- even before additional weight is applied. In a restorative or injury prevention training, I would teach lumbar spine neutral and work on increasing both psoas and hamstring length to help maintain lumbar spine neutral (that is just the beginning). Keeping the hamstrings long enough to allow as close to 'neutral spine' in the lumbar spine as possible at the beginning of this pose because moving into a flexed lumbar spine with your trunk outside of your center of gravity will increase the load more on the anterior portion of the vertebral body. This means, there is 'unequal' force as compared to an 'equal' compression load in 'neutral spine.".
Remember, that this position, in and of itself is going to increase the compression loads on the spine by shear movement of the trunk away from the center of gravity.
Then, we add tight hamstrings, which do not allow, the pelvis to remain in 'neutral' alignment, instead pulling the pelvis into a flexed lumbar spine and posterior pelvic tilt.
We need to hold up for a second. It is important to note that this discussion is about 'prevention of injury' and 'restoration of a balanced muscular system in spite of being in the 'deadlift' posture. Some coaches teach that lumbar flexion in the deadlift is the way to go. I am not saying that is wrong. What I am saying, is this: Just know what you are doing from the mechanistic aka arthrokinematic point of view, in order to determine which position of your spine is good for you at that time. Yes, you can get initially get more POWER from a Flexed lumbar spine for several reasons: 1) it turns on the pelvic floor and transverse abdominus by shortening some of these muscles. 2) It shortens the hamstring at the proximal end , so therefore when you go from the transition of knees bent to knees straight, you can potentially achieve a bit more power as well. HOWEVER, this is where Restorative Personal Training can guide the athlete into maintaining positions of power while preventing injury. It does however, take a bit more time to train this way, because initially , you will lose power in your deadlift. The reason being, because you have changed the mechanics of the posture and now you must re-train the hamstrings, transverse ab, pelvic floor muscles, psoas , lattisimus dorsi, and the erectors of your spine to recognize this new place in space as related to your limbs, head and center of gravity- it's called kinesthetic awareness.
The training to 'sense in' to having the ability to isolate each small instrinsic muscle and inquire whether or not it is turned on or off or needs more attunement- takes a bit of time and skilled intervention.
Deadlifts, involve many, many muscles that interact with one another and at any given point, if there is a weakness in one of those areas, can create a change big enough to strain, sprain, or herniate in the back. Gross motor muscles that are interconnected fascially in this posture include but are not limited too: latissimus dorsi, erectors, psoas/iliacus, all 3 hamstring insertions, and your iliotibial band/tensor fascia latae.
From a restorative/mechanistic point of view, deadlifts can create potential injury and signs could look like this but not limited too:
- pain in the front of the shoulder, pain in between the shoulder blades, pain in the lower back, pain in the inner knee, pain in the front inner knee, pain below the knee cap, pain in the buttocks region near the sitting bones, pain near the coccyx region, pain in the ribcage posterior and anterior, pain in the space between the ribs and the hip on the side. Interesting to note as well , that many of individuals that perform Strength and Conditioning Power Bodybuilding have very high pain tolerances and pain may not be their way of telling them something is not right. This is why it is important to have help , assessing alignment and movement within the joint spaces, within the capsule, and having sensory integration techniques performed with a skilled and trained individual to help bring to the participants awareness of physiological, muscular, nervous system, and skeletal events that may lead to potential injury or may be preventing more strength gains from occurring. It is pretty safe to say, that if one has received an objective diagnoses from a qualified physician that there is indeed a herniation in the lumbar spine- that one should take caution when performing a deadlift in a flexed spine as this will only exacerbate the herniation over time. Signs do not have to include back pain with a flared up herniation. They can also include hip 'sticking', alignment issues, clicking in the hip or back, changes in gait, changes in strength, changes in the proximal or distal joints, trigger points in the innervated musculature, facial tightness, and referred pain sites such as inbetween the shoulder blades or near the posterior lower rib cage and much much more.
I regularly see a crossfiter who has a history of a diagnosed herniation- you know who you are and I love you! Through the years, we have watched how easy it is to mistake knee and hip pain for 'pure muscular' issues, when infact it is stemming from the consistent chronic repetative compressive loads put on the herniated disc through deadlifting. Please remember, your form may be Perfect but even in the most optimal form, due to the mechanistic/arthrokinematic alignment that this posture demands, there will be no way of avoiding a certain amount of increased compression and increased potential of torque. Considering all that is happening here such as the latissimus dorsi engaged along with the psoas and hamstring while the trunk is away from it's Center of Gravity.
Without getting to much more into describing the kinesiology of these muscle groups, think about the force that is placed at the L3,L4 vertabrae when all these things are applied: trunk outside center of gravity, pull from hamstrings on pelvis, pull of psoas muscle on L1-L5, pull of lats through the thoracolumbar attachment site. And that is just a few of the forces all culminating at this already structurally degraded site.
Don't worry though Crossfitters, there is HOPE. Integrative Functional Movement™ is the combination of Orthopedic Massage, Restorative Personal Training, and Functional Yoga all in one session to teach you the Tools to identify and treat yourself. You will learn things such as why to GET RID of your FOAM roller unless you know how to use it effectively. Meaning rolling out without following up with Recipricol Inhibition stretching is a WASTE of YOUR time. Sounds like a another post. And why Functional Yoga can take your training to an entirely new and elevated level of performance! I write for you!!! I wish you all wellness so that you can Continue to do the movements you LOVE , this is not about STOPPING! It is about DOING MORE!! Namaste.