Category Archives: Health

My Yoga and My Injury: Cutting Back Even More

Well, it happened. I injured myself big time in yoga. I’m not quite sure exactly what happened, but I think it happened while I was doing ahandstand during a vinyasa. I was engaging my left oblique too much and I felt it snap/pop or something very unpleasant.

Gray's Anatomy
Gray’s Anatomy Plate 392. Taken from Wikipedia. This shows the external oblique and the latissimus dorsi. For me, the pain is right underneath the bottom rib around where the lats and obliques meet.

The next few days were unpleasant since I was dealing with post-nasal drip cough on top of the rib.

Cough + strained rib = lots of pain.

I went to see a doctor about the pain and she said that regardless of whether it was a strain or a fracture, the recovery process would be the same, although a strain might heal faster.

A week later I was feeling better and decided to play ping-pong at the company birthday party.

Deadly mistake.

I cough. My rib popped even harder this time and I was left curled up in the fetal position since standing/walking and breathing was hard. You take for granted how often your core is engaged in simple activities (like walking, driving over speed bumps, lying in cough potato asana on the couch.)

Following day I spent on the couch in 1 of 2 positions that I could tolerate (slumping or lying on my injured side). Day 3 redux I attempted to walk in the mall at a slow motion pace before retiring to the couch.

A few takeaways I want you get from this:

  1. I know a lot of people complain about being injured doing yoga, but people also get injured doing most sports (running, basketball, soccer), as well as everyday things (walking, climbing stairs, tying your shoes.) I wasn’t doing anything I haven’t done before I got injured. I hope injury doesn’t deter you from trying. Life isn’t fun in a bubble.
  2. Taking it easy can be hard sometimes. I am surrounded by people who love exercise. My housemate tore his meniscus playing basketball and had it surgically repaired with a cadaver meniscus. It took a lot of willpower to keep himself from exercising (although, he did defy doctor’s orders and started early.) My husband sprained his MCL while kicking in soccer. He went back a little earlier than he should have and his knee remained sore and strained. I probably should not have played ping pong. (But, c’mon! It’s ping pong!) Some lessons are learned the hard way, but they will be learned.
  3. Recovery is a lot like starting from scratch (but not really.) It starts with baby steps and knowing that you CAN get to the level where you were before. It’s slow. It requires dedication. It requires breaks, rest and recovery.
[Photo: Visvamitrasana on the shore of Reykjavik mid-March 2015. The sky was so beautiful there. I have been unable to do this pose since I strained my left oblique.]

Injuries, Illnesses and Setbacks

For Thanksgiving week, I was lucky to be able to work remotely in Taiwan so that I could spend time visiting family. However, I’m not as young as I used to be and jerking myself from one time zone to another extremely disparate one was a bit jarring for me.

Injured my shoulder and neck area and forced to walk around like a robot for a week. Not cool
Injured my shoulder and neck area and forced to walk around like a robot for a week. Not cool

I soldiered on. However, one night at my in-laws place, I slept on one of those contour pillows incorrectly (due to exhaustion, I passed on out it with the large contour digging into my shoulder blade. I woke up with such extreme pain in my neck and shoulder that I wasn’t able to move my head in any direction without tears coming out of my eyes (no joke.) My head felt like a bowling ball and tilting it in any direction made it weigh that much more. (Here’s an article talking about posture and how tilting your head puts nearly 60 pounds of pressure on your neck.)

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, Taipei, Taiwan
The only crow that I was able to do the entire week. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, Taipei, Taiwan.

Even though I brought my yoga mat abroad, I was unable to use it.

And then came the plane ride. Eleven excruciating hours with an immobile neck. Luckily my father-in-law provided me with some Toricam gel that I slathered on my neck that made things slightly more tolerable.

It took almost a week after I came back from my trip before I felt okay enough to do yoga.

And then I got a cold.

I am still suffering from the repercussions of the cold nearly a week later, which has progressed into a sinus infection. Somewhere between hourly sinus irrigation, pei pa koa, pseudoephedrine and copious amounts of rest, I’m slowly recovering.

What has this taught me? I think it was just a reminder to slow down. I had worn myself out to the point where I sleep in awkward positions and wear down my immune system.

It has been deeply frustrating not doing yoga, flipping around in aerial or even going for a simple walk (without being breathless.) Sunday was the first day I was able to take my dogs out for their usual stroll. Monday was a sorry attempt at yoga, but an attempt nonetheless… and I was happy. Happy to just be doing something even if it didn’t look that great. Happy and grateful that my body was able to recover and I could do some semblance of movement.

So this week I’ve been going along with the theme that sometimes we need to slow down and appreciate where we are. Don’t take for granted the things we are capable of doing until it’s gone (or temporarily absent.)

Photo is of Mount QiXing. No exotic yoga photo this post since I was relegated to no yoga on this trip.

Yoga Weight Loss

I get asked a lot about what yoga to do for weight loss, or what pose to do for weight loss. If only weight loss were as simple as doing a yoga pose!

To be honest, I’m probably not the best person to ask for weight loss tips – I’ve been more or less the same weight for the last 10 years of my life (I haven’t grown in height for 15 years… Heh.) My parents didn’t become overweight until they moved to America and gorged on the American diet… and I am pretty good at (sub-consciously) regulating myself. It’s not like I was born with skinny genes – like I said, my parents gained weight later in life (but my relatives in Asia stayed slim.) I can speculate as to why, but my general belief is that Asians tend to subscribe to the belief that we should eat until we’re 80% full (ba fen bao, for those Mandarin speakers out there.) I know there is also the belief that you should eat everything on your plate. These 2 ideas get along – just don’t stack your plate with more than you can eat.

As for exercise, Americans consciously exercise more than people in any other country I know (based on personal observation – this may not be a fact), but we are still one of the heaviest countries in the world.

It’s not to say exercise is bad, but you have to see everything in a holistic way – every action you make contributes to your current state. One pose isn’t going to save you.

Being Self Aware

I have fallen out of touch with myself in some ways. I haven’t taken care of my body.

Now, I’m going to talk about diet, but not in the eating disordered fashion. I’ll be talking about it and how it relates to me.

Diabetes runs in my family. (Pretty much anyone over the age of 45 on my mom’s side has it.) I eat an obscene amount of sugar, have hypoglycemic crashes and feel cranky all the time. I really need to stop eating really processed sugar. I am addicted. I am going to quit cold turkey.

A few weeks ago, I ended up in the ER with the worst stomach pain in my life – worse than any period cramp that I can remember. (Plus, it’s much worse since I didn’t know what it was and it wasn’t my period.) Doctors couldn’t find what was wrong with me because I showed no sign of infection and my blood levels were fantastic. I was sent home with a prescription for ibuprofen and some super powerful narcotics. I spent the next few days drinking chicken broth and jello (on a doctor prescribed diet.) I also spent time camped out near the toilet. Not fun.

So the lesson in all this is: eat better. Stop eating sugar and stop tempting fate. Stop messing with my digestive health.

Coconut Water

Coconut water ranking based on taste.

(This is not scientific and based solely on my personal preference.)
1. Taste Nirvana. My friend Samira just introduced this to me. It is Uh-May-Zing. It doesn’t have that weird sour taste that seems to be common in a lot of coconut waters… I think it may have to do with the lack of vitamin C additive?

2. O.N.E. I like the ones with a splash of guava flavor. I do not like the the mango ones. I will tolerate the plain one if they are out of guava.

3. Zico in a tetra pak. (Not in a plastic bottle.) The tetra pan ones are sweet. The plastic bottle-ones are unnatural tasting.

4. Vita Coco. Tolerable but has a slightly rotten taste. This was the first coconut water that I ever tried and I thought it was okay until I had the ones listed above.

5. Naked. This was really hard to drink. I would never consider buying this again. Ever.

Of course nothing beats a real coconut. I got some delicious coconut goodness when I was in southeast Asia last month. Real coconuts are not sour, rotten or moldy tasting. They’re refreshing with a hint of sweet.