Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Watching my Thighs Shake During Yoga

By almost any standard, I'm in good shape. I swim 1/2 a mile 3 times a week. I bike 6 to 10 miles a day. I walk my dog at least a mile. Most days I do yoga or Pilates. And I do my physical therapy exercises which include sit-ups and side-planks. Plus, I have a chin-up bar across the door to my bathroom. I don't do chin-ups, but I do hang from it for at least 10 seconds every time I walk under it.  
But I can only stand still for a few minutes before the pain in my hips is intolerable. I can only sit for a few minutes unless I'm sitting on a stability disk that keeps me in motion. The most basic things hurt! 
Yoga is supposed to help  A woman in my yoga class tells the story that she was scheduled for hip replacement surgery but cancelled when yoga made her joints comfortable. I watch in awe as she sits crosslegged on the floor and leans forward to put the top of her head on the floor as well. Maybe someday, but for now, I'm working on beginner poses.
I have trouble with what should be a simple pose --Prasarita Padottanasana, wide-legged forward bend. I can't get my legs wide and when I bend forward as the pose requires, I see that my left kneecap won't stay raised and my left thigh quivers. It's almost a game -- come on kneecap - up you go.  And when I do manage, however briefly, to get that kneecap up, the quivering stops.  I know this is counter-intuitive. Quivering is supposed to indicate a tired muscle.  But this is a muscle that is out-of-control. When I briefly manage to get it to cooperate, my IT band (Iliotibial band, along the outside of the hip and thigh) starts to complain. According to Wikipedia, this is a common complaint of the elderly, particularly the elderly who bicycle. So, after yoga, I have to get out my foam roller and release my IT band.  I thought the point of exercise was so I could live the rest of my life my way. Now it seems that the only options are schedule more exercise or give up and sit in a chair on my stability disk. I doubt it would be safe to drive sitting on a stability disk, and besides where I live there is no place to park. So, next challenge -- get those left thigh muscles strong enough to keep my left knee up and my thigh still. 

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