I threw my back out over the weekend so I thought it would be an appropriate time to tell the story of my first back injury. The initital yoga center I opened was on Court Street in Brooklyn and one day I was just playing around by myself doing a weird/stupid version of upward dog with a block under my pelvis. I toned my abdominals and felt something give in my sacrum. It didnt feel like much at first but I knew something had happened that wouldn’t end well.
I couldn’t sleep that night. Every movement I made would create a searing spasm across my lower back bringing me wide awake. No fun.
I knew from pain and injury as I had already dealt with three knee surgeries but I was just starting the process of learning about the body that would lead to the creation of my walking program. This was before I got rolfed and I hadn’t yet met my chiropractor. At the time I had little advice or help to offer those in pain, myself included.
I did know about constructive rest position, a pose created by Lulu Swiegard whose book Human Movement Potential taught me, as much as anything else, what I know about the body. So that’s what I did.
For anywhere from a half hour to an hour, twice a day, I would lay on my back with my knees bent, my feet flat, and my thighs belted. My cat Bhavani would settle on my chest and the crazy cat Fifi, who lived in the basement, would lay down about ten feet away. Oh Fifi!*
Constructive Rest is some strange stuff. Some people feel a lot when doing it and some feel nothing. I am of the nothing variety but even though I didn’t feel much in the shape, I always felt more relaxed and loose afterwards if only for a short time.
After a more than two weeks of this, as I lay in constructive rest yet again, there was a click in my pelvis and my legs fell to the right. I knew instantly that I was better and I also now knew what it meant to have one’s sacrum go out.
Rolling over and standing up was amazing because all of the limitations that had been there a half hour earlier were gone.
I threw my back out this past Saturday and while I feel much better I am off to do a little CRP.
*There was a lovely yoga teacher from Jivmukti named Sarah Lord who asked me to house sit her cats Mu & Fifi. I lived on the top floor of a three floor building with a basement. Sarah brought the cats inside, let them out and Fifi ran into the basement not to be seen again for two years. I would leave an open bag of food in the basement and if it ever emptied before I noticed, Fifi would yowl from below to let me know. After two years I started sitting in the basement without moving and eventually Fifi showed herself. It was another year before she ventured upstairs. At the time of this story I still hadn’t touched her—it would be another year before that would happen and then only fleetingly. I learn in so many way but Fifi taught me about patience in a special way.