Sometimes the room is about the physical, sometimes the mental, sometimes the spiritual, sometimes it is all things at once. You just never know.
Today was the knees, or more specifically, my right knee. Apparently I am realigning it again. Or something to that effect. It is squawking and squealing and particularly annoying, really. A twinge, a tweak and it was bothering me the whole class. It would lock out, but in triangle, it was not co-operating. Something about the lateral movement and the pressure on the knee when it is straight on an angle that makes it totally uncomfortable. Not painful really, just uneasy, unsteady. In the floor series, it did not like to bend, nor did it like to be straight in savasana. Like I needed to crack it somehow to alleviate the pressure, the sensation. Like it was catching on itself. Nothing was comfortable for it, and I had a really hard time with stillness…what a wiggle worm! Kneeling in camel, nope, not today. Kneeling in rabbit and half tortise…not so bad???
Let me explain my knees. Now I never remember which knee I did which injury to in what order any more, but you’ll get the gist. Back in university when dinosaurs roamed the earth…ok only 24 years ago…I tore my ACL playing volleyball. It was called a “dislocated kneecap” and I had to be on crutches for a while, I don’t remember how long that round. I was senior year and moving back home so although I did some rehab, I really had no stability in the knee and continued to injure it over and over again, catching and tearing the meniscus (cartilage) several times. I went to physio, got “better”, went out and played sports like softball and racquetball that are incredibly hard on knees. I eventually had my first surgery on the knee and they removed the offending cartilage. I got strong in my legs, but continued with the athletic life – more softball, more volleyball, skiing. I injured my other knee, tore the ACL skiing. That rehab lasted a full year (the physio place gave me a t-shirt and cake on my one year anniversary), at the beginning of which my knee was so unstable it was difficult to walk on slippery conditions, like snow and ice. I got a brace for it. We were hoping to avoid reconstructive surgery on the knee. But I kept injuring it, kept going to physio, kept going to the gym. In the end, after 10 years of injuries and 3 surgeries, the doc, the physio and I decided to go for the reconstruction. It worked well, and after rehab the knee was super strong again. I then reinjured the other knee, and decided to get it “fixed” as well. My last surgery was in 1998, years before I heard of Bikram yoga.
My knees are stable now, no more falling over on unstable or slippery ground. I can tell you that tearing cartilage in your knee is one of the most painful injuries I have ever experienced. Tearing the ligament, not so much, just a “pop” and it’s gone. No fun, but not as painful as the grabbing, stretching, pulling, twisting pain of catching a piece of cartilage between the knee bones – I do NOT want to go back there.
Although the knees were stable, they were not flexible, comfortable, or necessarily pain-free. It was difficult to squat down and get back up, to kneel on the floor, to sit cross-legged. Bikram yoga has helped all of that. My knees feel so much better and stronger. And yet they are not “there” yet. Today they whined at me, especially the right one, and I know it is just them realigning, getting better, working through some scar tissue (cause there is lots in there). It is a bit frustrating to feel it again, and yet also reaffirming that the challenge is really working. I mean it is getting me deep into my body, reclaiming that flexibility and strength that I know is mine.
I know that next, the hips will complain, and then the emotions will come.
It’s not always just physical.