Whoa, I took what I thought would be a brief hiatus to focus on our move to Oregon earlier this year and—poof!—became a blogger-with-neglected-blog cliche. But, I’m here now on this crisp, clear morning and so are you, so…welcome, and thank you!
We’re here in the midst of holiday season. Gathering with loved ones, whether joyful or stressful (or a likely combination of both), can lead to an increase in pain. Inability to participate because of pain, as we all know, can be distressing and sometimes heartbreaking. So, it’s time more than ever to step up the self-care and attune to our bodies and our minds.
I’ve done an ultra-modified yoga-pilates-physical therapy fusion at home for years. My practice, born of necessity and desperation, is partly comprised of various techniques I’ve picked up over the years. The rest of it consists of a bunch of things my body just wants to do.
Lately, my body has been telling me to switch it up and—wouldn’t you know it?— I saw a flyer for an adaptive yoga class. My first class led to a flare-up, a painful “Told you so!” echoing from my limbs, reminding me to be more aware. Clearly, I would require adaptive adaptations, but with the thoughtful help of my two new teachers, I’d make it work.
When we got to a pose that was too painful to do in any form, one of the teachers suggested I imagine myself doing it. She explained to the class that we can benefit from simply preparing our bodies for the positions and visualizing them. So, I engaged my core, focused on my breath, and did the pose in mind only. In other words, I acted as if I was physically moving my body.
The suggested modification reminded me of the impact visualization has had in my life for so many years, especially since pain from CRPS and a complex spine condition progressed. Those of us in pain act "as if...” for the benefit of others all the time (behaving as if we’re not in pain, for example). So, think of visualizing as a way to project an “as if...” image solely for yourself. If your leg is cold and hurting, imagine it’s swaddled in a soft, warm blanket. If a venue (or a person) is overly stimulating, take slow breaths and gaze at the ocean in your mind.