Monday, December 21, 2009

How I Fixed My Body (injury update #2)

In November 2008, I had just gotten fired up by yoga. I was determined to study and practice yoga in depth. In January 2009 I had some photos taken of myself demonstrating the sixteen yoga poses that I was going to be working with, so that I could chart my progress for the year.


Well, about two weeks after that photo shoot, I injured my shoulder. And suddenly my life became about something else. Dealing with pain, Loss of function. Starting over. I went from doing over 200 pushups, to not being able to do a single pushup. I could barely put on a shirt.


In March I started to feel a bit better and wanted to be buff for a show I was doing, so I started to lift weights again. I was pushing them around as best I could do. And I was smart to start light and build incrementally and slowly. And I warmed up well and stretched afterwards. But the pain came back. I also noticed I was building my body incorrectly. I was building asymmetry and imbalance by using compensatory movements to mask my weakness. I noticed my right deltoid getting huge and my right chest shrinking smaller and smaller.


After the show ended, I went off the weights again and sort of went “back to the drawing board.” I knew I didn’t want to do weights again, but I wanted to get strong and get my muscles back. I had some more yoga photos taken on my birthday, June 15. When I saw those photos I was absolutely shocked at what I saw. I was so crooked and atrophied, whereas I typically always had a very symmetrical and proportionate build. But the atrophy from the injury combined with my deranged workout supported by compensation patterns had created a monster.


I wriggled on the floor to heal my body, and because it was the only comfortable way to move. My body was begging for it. I read about what the best ways to get muscles and to get lean and to exercise the heart and lungs, and with what I knew from teaching Nia and from yoga and from being in the fitness field for most of my adult life, I mixed it all together and started integrating it all. I was doing yoga movements but thinking cardio intervals. I was stretching by relaxing. I was holding stillness. And I was flowing. I wanted it all to flow together like it used to.


So I created Energy Flow. Or I should say Energy Flow emerged. I discovered it.

It put my body back together in such a cool way. I walk around now and I

literally feel like a gymnast. I wanted to take my discovery into a class and see if I could share this with the world. And, students are remarking now at how surprised they are that they feel so strong afterwards or that they’d never been able to do a tree before. I’m delighted to find out that the one student who has been to all six Energy Flow classes, is telling me now that her Pilates teacher who has never singled her out in class, in the last class complimented her form three times. Every week she tells me she’s so amazed at herself for being able to do these movements.


But it all started from me not being able to lift my arm. I actually didn’t start my own, personal Energy Flow program until October. I took all of September and ate a strong emphasis on raw, green vegetables and no gluten, dairy or wheat. And I stretched all the time. (That’s how I developed Deep Yoga, but that’s another story) I got all skinny and bendy. It was all part of my healing process.


Then, starting in October I began my Energy Flow program at home. I was amazed at the intensity I could generate just moving while knowing my anatomy and knowing yoga movements and following my instinct to balance and heal myself. And of course I had all of my previous knowledge and training so I was in familiar territory. And it worked. I leaned up really fast because I was doing High Intensity Interval Training. I was doing them on a yoga mat in my living room. And, at the same time, I was stretching and strengthening my body in functional movements. I was practicing a little bit of my Yoga Tune Up every day after each workout, and at the same time I had a little yoga practice of my own.


So I drew up a plan that was all incremental and periodized to create the Energy Flow class format. I used all the elements of what I had used at home and put them into an hour format. I created a cycle of twelve classes and different phases the program progresses through. My plan was to take other people who couldn’t do a pushup and turn them into walking gymnasts as well.


In a few weeks it will be one year from the date I took those very first yoga pictures.

I plan to do another photo shoot of me doing those same original sixteen yoga poses. Even though I hadn’t spent any time or energy focused specifically on working on most of them, I’d like to see how my body looks now compared to what was basically the last evidence of my pre-injured body. If I look as good as I feel, it will be a great testament to the power of Energy Flow.


Stay tuned.


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