After three rigorous weeks of strength training and cardio in P90X, you get one “recovery week” of stretching and core-building routines to give your body a chance to recuperate. Go figure, this is the week where I injure myself. It wasn’t the weights, it wasn’t the (modified) high-impact cardio, it wasn’t the sound of Tony Horton upselling Recovery Drink causing me to bleed from the ears. No, it was the yoga program. What? you say, how can that be? Isn’t yoga restorative? Blissfully stretchy? A physical meditation? No, not if you know anything of my long, long relationship with Yoga.
Yoga and I first connected in the early 90’s in Chicago. A Sivananda Hatha Yoga Center in Uptown. We hit it off immediately. I liked Yoga’s gentle spirit, her rigorous precision, her centered spirituality. It was something I was missing from my life. She introduced me to mysteries of life I had not even contemplated. She was spiritual, but she was also physical. Oh, so physical. She made my body feel great. I was hooked.
We saw each other once a week at first, but soon that wasn’t enough. I needed more of her. We began to Flow, and that’s where things started to get hotter. She was bending me, twisting me, easing me into positions I couldn’t have imagined I could get into. My body was on fire. Purified. Chattaranga, baby, Chattaranga. Jump back!
I moved to Los Angeles, and things got even more intense. Sweatier. Deeper. Power Yoga. Bryan Kest. YogaWorks. Muscled bodies moving in tandem. Crescent Pose. Scorpion. Twisting Half-Moon. The mirrors of the room fogged up with our humid breaths. Somewhere in the back in my head, I heard echoes of teachers: “Yoga is a state of mind. The pose is unimportant. The equanimity is all.”Yes, yes, I knew that, but still, it was the challenge of the physical that drew me on. “Let’s go further, baby,” I whispered, and she smiled and bent me over, one leg at a time.
Then, I found an Ashatanga Center above a liquor store in Silverlake. Hardcore. Mysore. Endless salutations, an infinite variety of twistings. I wasn’t young anymore, but I thought I could still do it. Could get that arm under the leg and back, contort my spine, jump back, and back, and back. Yoga had become sterner, more demanding, less… flexible. Was I feeling sick? It was the toxins, a few Wheels would do the trick. Muscles injured? It’s how we rebuild you. Then came the day when realized I was spending more time injured than practicing. I had to stop.
Still, I couldn’t completely stop seeing her. I went back, periodically, to the Larchmont Center. To the Y. But it wasn’t the same. I was broken. Then came the injuries: Knee tear. Knee tear. Bulging lumbar disc. And I found that every time I tried to get back into Yoga, I would end up injuring myself again. I had to admit it: it just wasn’t working.
And now, the P90X yoga series. It was all poses I had done before (albeit, not for a while) and the teaching was sound. I modified it severely: no jump-backs, no twists. And it worked, for the first three weekly routines. I could do it! I was feeling strong! Then, in the recovery week, Yoga X came up twice. That’s what did me in. I got that old feeling— “I can do this. I’m strong enough.”— and BOOM my back went out. Hubris! Hubris!
There is some merit in age and adversity. In the past, if I got injured I would either try to “work through it” and make things worse, or I would drop everything and lay in sloth. Now, having gone through this injury and its rehabilitation, I knew what exercises to do and how to mitigate its severity. I didn’t have to stop the P90X program, just modify. After a week with many icing sessions and one massage with miracle masseur/angel Maurizio (really, he’s that good) I got back on track. It’s all good now.
And Yoga? I’ll do laps instead. And get my meditation on at the Zen Center. Yoga and I, we had a lovely time together, but I have to admit, we’re just not good together anymore. Shavasana, baby. Shavasana.