Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Acu-High - Driver Recommended

It's been an interesting yoga year for me.  The moment I started on a new path-yogically speaking-I noticed a new sensation in my shoulder. Yea, that's what I'll call it - a sensation.  I was very aware of this shoulder sensation when I signed up for a 4-day yoga extravaganza back in June.  But I did it anyway.  I was drawn to this festival: yoga from 8-5, over 8 sessions to choose from, all day long? Yes, please.
Because of where I live, a community where most of the yoga studios teach only one specific kind of yoga, I have kind of been pigeon-holed into this certain type that is in love with "chaturangas".  Chaturanga Dandasana = Four-Limbed Staff Pose = mucho amounts of pushups.  Don't get me wrong, I love pushups and love having the lean, musculur arms that come with doing them....if they are taught properly. 

After realizing there was more to yoga postures than just practicing chaturangas, I started to really focus on my alignment. "Alignment." Huh.  I don't think I'd ever heard that word uttered in a class I'd taken up until now. I don't know much about anatomy, but it would make sense that, before you move into a challenging posture, one would want to align the body correctly so as to avoid all possibilities of injury.
As I began un-learning postures that had been engrained in my head over the past 10 years and re-learning them the correct way, the sensations in my body became more pronounced: lighter, better, but I kept coming across blockages: tightness in my elbow, kinks in my back, a stiff IT band. 

I do this stretch at night, while laying on my back, that "cracks" every vertebra as I roll my back against the floor.  When my chiropractor found a knot in my back, he asked if I was doing any kind of twist or stretch that would crack my back.  When I told him what I do and how good it feels to release that tightness he responded, "What you're doing is aligning your back in an incorrect way.  I'm releasing that tightness as well, but back into the correct alignment."

By finally practicing postures and techniques that made sense to my body, my "old" body was saying, "Wait a minute....I'm stuck!" So what do I do now?

Weeks of physical therapy helped to strengthen, but didn't seem to get at the root of the problem. Massage is a quick fix but it seems to revert back to the same old problems once I start exercising and posturing. What's next?! Do I have to spring for an MRI?  I play the mandolin and I have shows coming up! I can't afford surgery!!!  Hmmm....something to remove the blockages....

Acupuncture.  And when you need needles stuck in you at an affordable price, where do you go? Portsmouth Community Acupuncture, where you can lay comfortably in an armchair with a man snoring in another one right by your side. Ahhhhhh.

I told the acupuncturist about my three main problem areas. She listened intently as she mulled over in her mind where she was going to place the little needles into my flesh like a voodoo doll. When I finally made it over to the big plush armchair, she started by placing the first needle on my collar bone, then moved to the muscle right above my collar bone, my sternum, forearms, hands, calves, feet, and even forehead and hairline. When she left the room I felt the effects immediately.  There was a liquidy-feeling to my arm. Then it turned hot. Then seemed to go numb. Then it was heavy.  I felt the sensation radiate to my left foot - somehow it seemed to relate. I moved my head slightly at one point to adjust myself.  My deltoid muscle throbbed.  "Wow," I qi (chee) is doing some funky shit."

I lay for the next hour reciting "om mani pad mi hum", to myself, which was interrupted by a few passing thoughts and muscles twitches.

To explain the new sensation I felt after being pin-pricked, I'll compare it to what i know best:  After a steady, flowing yoga class, and a nice, relaxing savasana, you feel a "yogi-high" and walk around smiling with a feeling of bliss all day...or, at least until you leave the studio :)

This was different.  I felt foggier, but still light. Things had shifted. Emotions had been released. Physical sensations were apparant. Certain limbs actually felt stiffer, then, when I moved them, lighter. I chatted with Emily for a while about next steps, how long it would take to feel results, etc. What she didn't mention, however, was that I should have called for a driver. 

I decided to take a ride out to the outlets, since I was already out and about, as I had heard about a mega coat sale.  Now I've lived in this area for over ten years.  I know the streets like the back of my hand. The outlets are less than ten minutes away from where my car was parked.  I left the parking lot, then took four wrong turns before I finally made it to the outlet which ended up being closed. Four wrong turns - as if I was a complete stranger to the neighborhood and was reading directions upside-down off a scrap paper in the dark.  My mind seemed to shut off and my body was just floating around in the ethers of Acu-land. I was so glad the store was closed.  I was a danger to the roads, and I probably would have tried to buy more than I needed. 

I went home, made a quick dinner, and relaxed for the rest of the night.  I looked up: "Acupuncture: What you need to know after a treatment."
I related particularly to this statement: "Some may notice their body was floating, as if they were weightless, or on the contrary, they felt heavy, as if their body was sinking into the bed," and was glad to know that a little cloudiness was normal after reading that "Some patients would become more emotionally sensitive for a short period of time. One could cry for no reason; grief for something that happened long ago; can't tolerate other people."  Feeling bitchy at work? No problem. Just tell your colleagues you've come from acupuncture. They'll understand.

I've already made a second appointment for next week. My qi is ready.