It has not been an easy year for me here in Bali. Since our family stayed on after our flights home were cancelled last March, we have navigated tropical fevers, braved an incessant rainy season and also had some accidents. Last October, a week before my birthday I experienced a really bad motorbike accident, which left me impaired for almost two months, before I really felt like I was back and healthy in my body.
Then last week, I had surgery on my left foot to remove a callus on the ball of the foot – an injury that has been impeding me from running or walking with ease for almost six years now. It first originated when I stepped on some broken glass!!! 🙁
After doing a yoga practice with a girlfriend where I wobbled every time I stood on my left (injured) foot; I committed to myself that I would look after this injury asap.
For me that meant no more waiting, but instead, taking action.
Last week, I went to the hospital here where I had been referred to a plastic surgeon by a dermatologist who I saw last November about the injury. Right, I was finally following up!!!
The consult appointment also included surgery. It happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to process the implications – In Canada, one podiatrist told me to think about surgery as being such an end of the road decision that I promptly gave up the idea altogether. And considering how many nerves lay on the soles of our feet, I understood how important a decision this was.
Yet, after the 20 minute procedure in Bali when I saw how much hardened callused tissue the doctor had removed, I was shocked and relieved. He also promised me no pain while walking once the foot healed. Of course, now it also meant, waiting and resting my foot while it healed.
It has been very difficult to stay stationary this past week. I realize over and over how much I rely on being in my body to feel good. And how important movement and yoga are to my wellbeing, my overall mood and my level of happiness.
I’ve tuned into to a different yoga and movement practice than I am normally accustomed to; and realize how much even a very simple routine can help move stuck energy and emotion out of the body.
Since I cannot weight bear on my left foot at all right now, the only poses I have been able to practice are on my back, and simple cat cows. Here is a simple routine that has helped me breathe, connect and feel more like myself. I would recommend it to anyone suffering from mobility issues, hip instability, if you are recovering from an accident, or if you simply want some gentle, healing yoga.
Here is the routine. I hope you enjoy it.
Child’s Pose or Wisdom Pose: 5 – 8 breaths.
Settle down in child’s pose for 5 – 8 breaths. Use a cushion between your hips and heels if your hips cannot touch your heels (I could not put any pressure on my left foot so I actually just had my hips up slightly above my heels). Knees can be wider than hips if you have no issues with your knees, otherwise, have the knees together. I did this as for me right now, gathering and containing my energy was what I needed in my practice.
Cat to Cow: 8- 10 breaths.
Next, come onto all fours and play with spinal mobility in your cat / cow poses. Allow yourself to exhale as you draw the navel in towards the spine and round the back, then release the belly down as the head lifts up on the inhale. Initiate the spinal roll from your pelvis. Notice that you stabilize using both feet and hands, don’t dump weight onto the knees. Play with this movement, practice lifting alternate arms and legs and also make the spinal rolls as big and fluid as you need to. Again, my left foot here limited my shifting weight from side to side so I stayed with a forward/ back roll which felt amazing.
Sphinx Pose: 5 breaths
From cat / cow roll forward onto the belly and lay down, forehead onto the mat. Draw the elbows to either side of the rib cage, press down through fingertips and slowly raise your torso off the mat. Elbows will line up approximately below the shoulders when you do this. If the spine feels more open, lengthen the arms to your own degree. Breathe here. Notice that you have to press down on the tops of the feet so you don’t hinge the spine and instead create a supple curve of opening through the entire front body.
Thread the Needle Pose: 5 – 8 breaths each side
Release back down onto the mat, roll onto the back and bend the knees. Cross right ankle on top of the left, thread the hands behind the left thigh. Use your right elbow to press the right thigh away from you, as you draw the left knee in towards you. Flex the feet so you protect your knee; and keep drawing the the left knee in closer. You should feel a (joyful 🙂 ) opening on the outer right hip as well as release in the lower back. Remember not to lift the pelvis up in this pose or you will miss the length in the lower back. Exhale through an open mouth and make any sound you need to let energy and emotion flow. Repeat on the other side.
Adrenal Draining: 8 – 10 breaths
This technique, specific to Blissology Yoga is done on one’s back. Here we counter the body’s tendency to breathe only in the front, by connecting to the back body and specifically try to calm our over amped adrenal glands.
Draw the knees into the chest and hug the arms around the backs of the legs. Clasp the hands so the shoulders can work as little as possible. Let the shins drape over the forearms and hug the knees into the chest. If possible, wrap the arms around the backs of the thighs and drape the shins over the forearms. Feel the bones of the back body in the back of the rib cage, the pelvis, shoulder blades and the skull. With each let each long, slow and tension-releasing exhalation release the lower back down into the earth (like a hot knife through vegan butter). (this analogy via @theblissologist)!!! Let your mind rest. Feel the belly rising on inhalations, nourishing the organs and relax the tension stored there.
Breathe tension of out through and open mouth and feel the pleasure of finally finding the off switch. Today is a beautiful day and you are exactly where you need to be. 🙂