I am taking a yoga class. It is a class for “mature” adults and so we all grunt and groan together and help each other up off the floor, which is much better than the ultra bendy classes my daughters drag me to. Our instructor is great and takes us slowly through the different poses, correcting our form and complementing our efforts.
I think I have been holding my own in this class. Even though I started right after my reconstruction surgery I have been able to do most of the stretches and poses. Except sitting crossed legged and especially bending forward from this position. We end each class in this pose - sitting, breathing, and then bending forward. Almost everyone can bend pretty low - some almost down to the floor. I can’t budge. Really. The best I can do is move my chin forward. Nothing else moves. And I have noticed that any of the poses that require hip flexibility, I struggle. And by struggle I mean I can not do them. At all.
So I went to my massage therapist, Michele, who always asks “what are we working on today?” I told her about my tight hips and she went to work, poking and prodding. Then she climbed up on the table and started bending my legs and rotating them this way and that. My right leg went pretty much whenever she took it. The left leg, not so much. In every direction she tried to take it, it would just stop. Then she said something that made me laugh and my leg went a little further.
She told me that my joints were fine and my muscles flexible enough. What is keeping my hips from moving is my head. My head! Yup, she said that whenever I try to flex my left hip, my head steps in and clenches all the muscles. Crap.
The majority of my injuries from the assault were done to my left side. Shattered left foot. Broken left ribs. Missing two left teeth. And I long ago realized that I tend to instinctively protect my left side. But I now I realize there is much more going on. Michele explained to me that my head is protecting something - an old injury, an old trauma, something. It reminds me when Peachie had her nose badly broke playing basketball. She went down in a heap while a pool of blood spread along the gym floor. She was never the same player after that. She could stand on the perimeter and shoot 3 pointers all day. But when she had to play body to body, she always turned away. She knew she shouldn't, but it was a reflex. She always protected her nose.
For years and years I worked to fight my way of the box trauma put me in. And I think I have finally accomplished that. Now I am sitting on the outside of the box, contemplating how to rid myself of these final vestiges of weirdness. I need to figure out how to get my head to tell my hips to relax and unclench. I am sure that whatever my head is protecting is no longer a threat. But I’m not sure how to convince my psyche of that. Michele tells me that just being aware of the cause and effect is a start. Awareness. I am working on awareness.
When I can do this - I win.