Saturday, August 27, 2005

Yoga Beachy

Since last Sunday, I have barely written about my asana practice....mainly because there has been no asana practice of which to speak. The last time I did a full-on practice was before my surgery (August 7, I think), and last Sunday was the last time I approximated a full-on practice. Over the course of the past week, I have been pretty leery of doing much of anything except walking and occasionally riding my bike (at less than 5 mph) as I have developed what appears to be a "seroma" at the top of my abdomen - a collection of fluid that has nowhere to go because it gets stuck between scar tissue and sutures and tissue swelling. In my case, this is not much of a surprise, as I know that I tend to swell up at the slightest trauma. It's not unusual to develop a seroma after a tummy tuck, although I think it more commonly occurs in the lower belly, sometimes leading to what is called a "Ken Doll"effect, if you get my drift.

It started to develop last Tuesday, right after I had my JP drains removed. Also, no surprise. That is exactly when these things tend to develop - right after the drains are removed, leaving the excess fluid with nowhere to go. Over the course of the next several days, I was still not allowed to stand up straight, so there was a bend in my abdomen anyway. But when I was finally given permission to stand up straight, the "bend" in my abdomen didn't go away. Instead, there was this bulge above my belly button. As the days went by since then (it's been roughly 10 days, I think), the bulge got bigger to the point where it is the size of a 4-month pregnancy, except at the top of the abdomen instead of at the bottom.

Not pretty, right?

One day, just a couple of days ago, it suddenly dawned on me: this can't be right. So, I called my plastic surgeon, who as it turns out, is away for the week as well. The doctor covering for him didn't give me much comfort and told me that she really couldn't answer my questions without seeing me. She then told me to stop walking around so much and to stop trying to do my normal activities. This upset me, and didn't sit right with me, since I FEEL absolutely normal; why should I be essentially bedridden? But still, I tried to do as little as possible the next day, which is pretty difficult when you're on an island with no automobiles and only your feet to get you from point A to point B.

I next spoke to a different doctor - a much more senior plastic surgeon in the group - and he was MUCH more comforting. He explained to me that this could be easily remedied by aspirating the fluid when I come into the office next week, and that until then, just go about my business.

And so I did. And the bulge has actually diminished a bit, although it is definitely still there.

But long story short, that is how I came to being on the beach today, stretching out a bit and gradually inching my way toward practicing most of the Primary Series. First, I was chatting with the Husband, and I casually picked up my right toe with my "angustha" grip and improvised my way through Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana. Then the next thing I knew, I was folding over into Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. Soon, it was Triangle, Revolved Triangle and Revolved Side Angle, which, by the way, is WAY easier to do on sand. The Husband decided to take the kids over to boogie board near the life guard, and I stayed on my towel, by now seated and folding over into Paschimotanasana.

When I got to Mari A, I noticed that a woman was staring at me unabashedly. She was a few years older than me and in fabulous shape. I smiled and said, "You too?" She said, "Yeah, I'm a yoga teacher. " Turns out she doesn't practice Ashtanga, and she had already done a vinyasa practice early that morning. But next thing I know, she brings her towel over to sit facing me, and she's asking, "So, how do I get into that pose, Marichyasana A?" And that is how I came to practice from Mari A through the rest of the Primary Series with a woman I had never met before, sitting on the beach in Fire Island.

And I bound in Mari C on the left side. No strap, no towel. Just me. And I can feel that Mari D is not too far down the road on the left side. The right side still doesn't settle into that "sweet spot". But I can tell it's improving. The surgery has somehow left me more supple, more flexible. I think that the damage to my abdominal muscles from my pregnancies was much more of a hindrance than I had thought. In spite of the fact that there was a three-fingers-width tear between the right an left side of my rectus abdominus muscles, I was still powerfully strong in my core. But what I didn't realize was how much this tear impacted on my flexibility - my ability to twist and bind. At least that is what I am thinking is going on now.

What it doesn't explain is why my padmasana (lotus) feels so comfortable and why I was able to bind in Pindasana (embryo pose). It does help to explain why I was able to grab both feet in Baddha Padmasana though.

Me and my yoga friend had a great time, and I was shocked when she told me that she is over 50. A testament to yoga's fountain of youth.

And I feel fine right now. I can't wait to have my doctor aspirate this water balloon I've got in my tummy, but other than that, I feel fine...and I am so excited to get back to practicing regularly, including vinyasas!

Tomorrow, it's back to the mainland, back to reality, back to school, etc. I have so many things to do - go shopping with my kids for new backpacks, for school clothes, for sweat socks (they constantly complain about whatever socks I bring home for them, so this time I am taking them with me), plan a cocktail party that the Husband and I are having in three weeks, go to training to be a volunteer at the WAR Room (which is the Resource Room and "Welcome Center" for breast cancer patients at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. "WAR" stands for "Women At Risk", by the way. All of the War Room volunteers are breast cancer survivors, and their job is to usher in the newbies and help them see that they too can make it...), finish up an article for My Guru Guide about Yoga for Breast Cancer Survivors, teach a couple of yoga classes.... tired.....



Anonymous said...

perhpas you should take it easy for a while on the asana front. it'll be there when you are ready to return. wouldnt want you to hurt yourself, takecare!

Anonymous said...

seriously, you are not giving yourself ample time to would be ashame if you hurt yourself. The bodie needs time to recuperate after such a major surgery. be gentle on yourself.

Anonymous said...

also, don't forget yoga is not just about asana practice... thats a hard thing to remember in the west it seems...i forget it sometimes myself! there are other ways to work on your yoga passion w/o having to practice asana while your body is trying to heal...

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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