A couple of years ago, my back was so out of whack that I needed help from friends and lovers to put on socks and shoes. And rolling over in bed or sneezing caused supernovas of pain to implode in my body. At some point, after seeing regular doctors, orthopedic doctors and physical therapists who all seemed stressed and clueless, and while waiting to have a MRI done, I was out in northern Germany, at the sea, co-teaching a yoga retreat (because freelancing yoga teachers usually can't afford to be 'sick' or have herniated disks). In between holding classes and workshops I was locked up in my room, feeling sorry for myself, crying a lot, and trying to make sure I didn't drop or throw anything on the floor, as I knew I wouldn't be able to retrieve it. I was very far from the yoga poster child of radiant, pretzel-bodied, green smoothie-sipping, positive 'health' often portrayed. Someone called it 'yoga's sickening cult of positivity.'
Upon returning home from the retreat, I limped onto the tram, and brought myself to an osteopath. At this point I also had some nerve impingement that caused my right foot to flop around like a fish doing a death dance. Very unpleasant. Extremely unsightly.
I stripped down to my underwear, the osteopath had me perform certain moves and then I lay down on the table. At first he put his hand under my sacrum and just held it there for several minutes, shifting me ever so slightly. Then he placed my knees over his thigh, getting my Psoas to unwind and soften. Very quickly I started feeling very relaxed and quite trippy. My head was spinning, but not in an unpleasant way. It felt like I was leaving this cruel world of backache, non-cooperating foot and stiffness. I felt stoned and giggly. Then he performed some 'back-cracking' moves. When I left I was nearly pain-free, and had regained a range of movement I hadn't experienced for weeks. I felt sleepy, but I couldn't stop smiling and had an urge to skip down the street instead of walking. I also thought: When I grow up I'm going to be an osteopath, fuck this yoga teacher shit!!!!
I have googled OSTEOPATHY many times. Here is the definition from Wikipedia: Osteopathy is a type of alternative medicine that emphasizes manual readjustments, myofascial release and other physical manipulation of muscle tissue and bones. I have read other definitions too, but still haven't exactly wrapped my head around what they do. Except they work wonders!
A friend of mine refers to osteopaths as white witches, and I couldn't agree more.
But being both a skeptic and a very curious person, I can't help but to further ponder the issue.
As a long-term yoga practitioner, I know that the body and mind are intrinsically connected, and that they affect each other. Physical pains can have emotional causes, and emotional pain can sometimes have physical causes. You can improve your mood, by improving the health and well-being of your body. And you can feel different in your body by altering your outlook or thought-patterns.
Yesterday, I went to my osteopath again. It was over a year and a half ago since my last visit. A testament to doing something right, I guess. Because I've been mostly fine (knock on wood) since I found out, in the summer of 2015, that I had no less than three herniated disks in my lumbar spine, and that this, possibly (and possibly in combination with other things) was the cause of my pain and my flopping foot.
But lately I've been having a lot of tension in my back, no unspeakable pain, but the feeling of being crocked, and nothing else had helped. Again my osteo-magician performed the move of of letting my legs rest on his thigh, in order to bring my PSOAS into a state of relaxation (at least that's what I understand the purpose to be) and right away I started to feel stoned, I started to drift away.
I am suspecting that all of us are walking around in a state of chronic low-level discomfort. Due to inventions like the chair, the computer and the smartphone.
For thousands upon thousands of years, human beings lived has hunter gatherers, moving constantly, breathing lots of fresh air, and using our bodies as much as our minds. Evolution has been rapid only in the last few hundred years. We now barely move, for most of us there's no food scarcity. We have lots of stuff. Yet we are not doing so well. We are stressed, anxious. We have a lot of pains related to our weakened spines, and ilio-psoas tightening as if in a 'fight or flight'-mode. Many of us are obese. We have difficulty sleeping. Our minds are churning. And so on. I know, I am painting a pretty bleak picture, but I am worried about what we are doing to ourselves and our planet.
Sometimes, when I find a good, upright yet relaxed, grounded seat for meditation. Or a well-aligned Tadasana (mountain pose) I feel such a rush of well-being.
I wonder if we could just align our bones better, let go of some tension, how much better we would feel?