A Good, Down Dog

It’s fairly well-known that I’ll go to almost any length to avoid the medical system. I strengthened a knee rather than have a severed ACL repaired. I found a natural solution to the chronic diverticulitis that my then doctor wanted to have operated on. I drink enough water every day to start growing gills, all to avoid a recurrence of a passing kidney stone. I floss to avoid gum disease. And I found a dentist who built a clip-in tooth last used in the mid-20th century, all to avoid having two healthy molars ground down to nothing to make the “bridge” that everyone recommended.

Now, owing to doing lots of manual labor, mainly hauling heavy rocks (to build stone walls), digging holes to plant trees, and other gardening-related activity, my back hurts, not skeletally but the muscles. It was hurting enough the other day that I started calling around (but not to doctors) to find out what I could do.

A friend recommended yoga. But not the yoga I had experienced a few times over the past two decades. The type I was forced to do by one or another of my prior girlfriends who I’d have to follow to a “yoga studio” where I’d spend an hour sweating my balls off and falling over in every possible direction. Not the group yoga that a muscular but somewhat inflexible guy is embarrassed to do and gets no real results from. The friend — a chiropractor I trust — recommended private yoga sessions geared to my problems and abilities.  Specifically, he recommended a yoga instructor named Karen Yat.

I checked out Ms. Yat’s website and was encouraged. Her blog clearly explained the kinds of exercising that she promoted: healing, geared to the specific client. There was no mystery. Just a sensitive, thoughtful presentation of what she specialized in, by someone with years of experience, lots of relevant certifications, and lots of specific, glowing references from people who I could tell probably were discerning, each having consented to having their name, job title and company affiliation appear on her website.

I’m now three weeks into my once-a-week sessions with Karen. While I must admit that “down dog” remains my preferred position (next to resting), I already am experiencing significant, positive change. I no longer wake up wondering what my back is going to feel like; it doesn’t ache. I’m more limber. I’m able to sustain stretching positions I once fell out of almost immediately.  And judging from the quality of my stone walls, I’m even more creative and focused.

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