Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Flip Side

I really wanted to share all the wonderful things I experienced at the yoga workshop last week. I wanted you all to realize how really great it was! I hope you did.

And now, for the flip side.
(I know some of you are too young to remember vinyl records, (Vanessa), but the flip side is the OTHER side of the record, the side that does NOT have the hit song on it!)
Here is the flip side of my yoga experience:

I talked with Max frequently throughout the week, adjusting my body to the postures, trying to figure out which things would work best for me. We worked at length with my shoulders, which are sort of tight and "crack" a lot, and have a somewhat limited range of motion. He kept assuring me that we could work with them and that they would get better.

On Thursday, I returned from the lunch break a little bit early. I decided to knit a few rounds on a sock I'm working on. I was chatting with another woman in the class who was also a knitter. Max came trotting over to me. Excitedly, he said, "Cheryl, how often do you do that?" I stared blankly. "Do what?" "THAT!" He pointed at my sock. "Oh, knitting? Every day, I guess. Why?" "How long do you knit for every day?" "I don't know." I faltered. I had a sneaking suspicion that something bad was about to happen. "Sometimes a few hours a day, I guess." I knit while the kids are taking piano lessons. During soccer practices. And games. During fencing. While watching American Idol. A lot.

Max was... ecstatic. "That's it!" he said. "That's what?" "That's what's causing your shoulder tightness. I sat right here and watched the movement of your shoulders and it's not good. You've got to stop!" "Stop what?" I stared blankly. I looked at the woman sitting next to me. She looked horrified. "Surely you don't mean... stop... knitting?" Now I was horrified. Max said, "Well, no, not stop, you don't have to stop knitting, you just have to cut back. Do it a lot less. Find something else that you want to accomplish so you don't have an empty feeling. I think your shoulders will feel a lot better!" He walked away, smiling, obviously pleased with himself.

I almost fell over. I was stunned. I stared at my knitting friend; she stared back at me. "I can't stop knitting," I said. "NO, you can't," she agreed. "You can't stop. You shouldn't stop. You don't have to stop." She was sputtering. I nodded in agreement. I don't have to stop! She said, "Sometimes I prop my elbows on pillows while I knit. I bet you could modify the way you hold your needles." I grabbed that one. "Yes! I'll modify! I'll adjust! I can still knit!" She nodded, and we smiled at each other, encouragingly. And then Max rang the bell (actually, the bowl), and class began.

Okay, I'm not going to stop knitting. But ever since Max mentioned it, all I can think about is my shoulders. I stop every few rounds and stretch them out. I do a few asana, just to make sure they aren't freezing into a knitting position. (Would that really be so bad?) And... I feel guilty. I don't want to fill my time with something else; I want to knit. I can't run, because of my ankles. My chiropractor told me that tennis is not the best thing for my back. And now my yoga teacher wants me to stop knitting?? I think we are all in agreement here: there is surely, most definitely, some sort of compromise... right?

Now you all know the flip side of my yoga experience. To tell you the truth, I almost didn't write about this. I didn't want to tell anyone! I thought about it a lot and decided if there IS a compromise, or a modification, my friends could help me find it. So, what are you waiting for? Help me! Any suggestions are welcome.

I wonder if I could actually knit while doing yoga??


Anonymous said...

Hi Cheryl,

First of all, I want to thank you for sharing your Yoga Retreat Week with us. It was great. I learned alot and it made me think and re-evaluate some things in my life.

As for you and your knitting. First of all, he didn't tell you to stop completely. You can still knit but perhaps you have to learn to knit differently. Which could mean knitting less, knitting for shorter periods several times a day, or taking a break completely. I don't know? Perhaps it was a sign that you are spending too much energy in one place and neglecting other areas of your life? Maybe, you just need to rest your shoulders for a while? You will have to figure out how it fits into the context of your life.

What your experience did for me was it reminded me that sometimes what we think we want and need, and can't live without, are not always as important as we thought. By giving something up, or giving it less importance, it leaves room for other things to come into our lives.

Your week's experience reminded me to practice gratitude on a daily basis. Its so easy to see the glass half empty. rather than half full. I was able to give up my disappointment in not finding a Yoga Class I like and did a session on my own. I have not practiced in 2 months. It felt so good to practice again, and I was surprized how well I did for not practicing in a while.

Maybe you need to take a break with your knitting, and see what happens? It will still be there when you are ready to start again. Who wears socks in summer anyway??

Or, You could just keep knitting like you are now, and live with the pain? There are always pharmacuetical products to help you...

Maybe your body, and Max's observation are trying to tell you something that you don't know and it will be revealed to you when you change your focus from knitting to something else for a while?

You always said in class to listen to our body. The times I did not, were the times I overdid it, and suffered the consequences. Now, I say to you, "Listen to your body"



Jessica said...

Cheryl, i love it!! I thought i was the only one who had ever hurt themselves knitting!! I used to be a BIG shoulder huncher while knitting, and i "threw" my back out once! Yep...knitting injury. There is actually something tragically beautiful about that...knitting can be DANGEROUS!;o)
Anyways, great to see you yesterday! Talk to you soon, Jessica

V said...

(Tagging you for the seven random things meme - details on my blog if you are interested!)

Wow. Stop knitting?! Wouldn't have seen THAT one coming! My suggestion is lame because you've been doing it the same way for years - but could it be as simple as adjusting to a different knitting position? I was paying attention to my movements while I was knitting today, and I don't *think* I move my shoulders at all. My movement is all from the elbow up to my hands.

Alternatively, you could just drink wine while knitting. You won't feel the pain if you drink enough of it, and your stitches will probably be a mess - but you won't care! :)