“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” – Audrey Hepburn
Good morning peeps , meditation done.
Quote for the Day:
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”
After two days back on my mat teaching yoga on my first retreat at the Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort the new five-star luxury destination in El Jadida Morocco the change in my body has been amazing.
The restorative powers of yoga are beyond what I ever imagined. What scans, X rays and specialist consultations have revealed is wrong with my hips and the pain and restriction of movement it has been causing for months on end against what I am now feeling and the freedom of movement I have achieved after only two days out here is phenomenal and probably should be impossible, by the rules of traditional Western Medicine
I have been walking with a limp and been in excruciating pain for the last six months and despite resting, taking pain killers and religiously doing all the rehabilitation exercises I had been given, my recovery progress had been limited and my mobility had actually got worst, because I had stopped stretching and doing my full yoga practice in order to allow the tendonitis in my hip flexor to recover.
Just over two weeks ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both hips and told my right hip would require a hip replacement and my left one was ok for now, but would need replacing in a year or two. I was devastated, it was one of my biggest fears when I first started getting pain in my hip, that I would need a hip replacement, which is very common in ex dancers and I had aggravated the situation by gripping my hips and tucking under whilst teaching BARRE in a certain style for a year. The tucking under and gripping of glutes, which through my knowledge of anatomy and teaching I had suspected was wrong all along, because of the unnecessary strain it places on the lower spine and hip flexor, which is frowned upon in yoga, training and more updated methods of teaching Barre had caused an overuse injury and the constant tucking under had impinged my hip flexor on a daily basis, which had caused the cartilage in the hip joint to grind away over time. As the cartilage wore away, it had becomes frayed and rough, and the protective joint space between the bones had gone, which had resulted in bone rubbing on bone. To make up for the lost cartilage, the damaged bone start to grow outward and form bone spurs (osteophytes) and this is what my X ray had revealed.
The bone rubbing on bone is what has been causing the excruciating pain and triggered off my sciatica and Piriformis syndrome. In speaking to my specialist it was decided that if I was to have an operation, I would not make things any worse by coming to Morocco to teach on my yoga retreat, but it would hurt a lot. I said pain I can deal with, not being able to move I cannot. I enquired with my Doctor about having a steroid injection in my hip to alleviate the pain for the duration of the retreat, but the timescale before going away did not allow for this. So after talking to friends who had been fitted with hip replacements, physiotherapists and studying everything I could find on Osteoarthritis in the hip and everything I read said yoga was the best form of exercise for it, so I decided yoga, stretching and strengthening the muscles and ligaments around my hips was the best way forward.
When I was thirty and had stopped dancing and started playing football again, I had been diagnosed with arthritis in both ankles, but after taking up yoga and practicing on a daily basis for ten years, a few years ago X rays revealed that I had no longer had any signs of arthritis in my ankles anymore, so despite what doctors tell you, I am living proof that the process can be reversed.
I read that Iyengar yoga was the best form of yoga for arthritis thanks to greater time spent in each asana (pose) and the ability to tailor poses to individual’s needs, Iyengar yoga can provide therapeutic benefits to tight, unstable or injured areas.
I decided to reread B.K.S Iyengar’s ‘Light on Yoga’, which I had first read as part of my yoga teacher training 10 years ago.
With his practice, Iyengar targeted multiple ailments and disorders. High blood pressure, depression, chronic neck and back pain, and immunodeficiency are just some conditions that he aimed to heal with his practice.
Part of my time in Morocco is spent teaching yoga to the members and guests at the hotel in open classes that are not part of my retreat and one of the classes that I have to teach is Yin Yoga.
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with postures, or asanas, that are held for longer periods of time—for beginners, it may range from 45 seconds to two minutes; more advanced practitioners may stay in one asana for five minutes or more. It’s teaching in the Western world, beginning in the late 1970s, was founded by martial arts expert and Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink. Yin yoga is now being taught across North America and in Europe, due in large part to the teaching activities of Yin yoga teachers and developers Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers.
Yin yoga poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body—the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. A more meditative approach to yoga, yin aims at cultivating awareness of inner silence, and bringing to light a universal, interconnecting quality.
Yin yoga as taught by Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers is not intended as a complete practice in itself, but rather as a complement to more active forms of yoga and exercise.
Out here at the Magazan the Yin Yoga class is taught half an hour after the last flow yoga class. Flow or Vinyasana yoga is what I predominantly teach and I have never taught a Yin style of yoga class before, but I have taken other people’s Yin classes usually on a Sunday and found them to have a really beneficial recuperating affect on my body after a hard week of training and yoga practice.
When I was training to be a dancer at Ballet School I would stretch for one hour every morning and two hours every evening, holding every stretch for at least five minutes and some anything from fifteen minutes up to half an hour at a time. I began stretching like this at nineteen and have continued to stretch like this everyday ever since for over thirty years and the first time I stopped was in January this year, when I had tendonitis in my hip flexor and as the tendon had lost it’s elasticity to stretch it would have caused more damage if I over stretched, but with hindsight and the results of my X Ray, my physiotherapist, believes me stopping yoga and stretching for that two months has caused a decrease in my mobility and a speeding up of the arthritis formation process.
I am now determined to reverse this process and being able to practice and teach yoga in the Moroccan heat all day everyday, whilst eating an unlimited amount of fresh, healthy delicious food is the best environment to be in to achieve my goal.
Yesterday after having taught my Retreat yoga class, then an open Flow Yoga class and doing my rehabilitation exercises I taught a Yin Class and I got into pigeon pose on my injured right side to demonstrate, Gretta Mitchell who is on my retreat and is a qualified yoga teacher herself looked at me and shook her head for me not to do it, but I knew Pigeon pose is one of the best stretches for Piriformis syndrome and sciatica.
The Piriformis (from Latin piriformis = “pear shaped”) is a pesky little muscle in the gluteal region of the lower limb. It is one of the six muscles in the lateral rotator group. Piriformis syndrome occurs when the piriformis irritates the sciatic nerve, which comes into the gluteal region beneath the muscle, causing pain in the buttocks and referred pain along the sciatic nerve. This referred pain is known as sciatica.
Eka Raja Kapotasana (one legged king pigeon pose) is the strongest of the piriformis stretches. I took myself to the edge of the stretch, so that I could remain there, breathe, and allow the piriformis to release. To stretch the right piriformis, I leant my upper body forward, tucked my left toes under, and slide my left leg straight back, allowing my right thigh to rotate out passively as my hip descended toward the floor. Keeping my hips level to the floor and square to the front of the mat; I was careful not to let my pelvis turn or fall to one side. I supported my right hip with rolled up mat and remained in the pose for the length of the beautiful sound of Lauryn Hill’s voice singing ‘Killing me Softly’ with the Fugees. I sank into the pose surrendering my body and soul to the power of the pose. I felt the discomfort and tension in my piriformis and around my hip joint, literally just float away, it was an overwhelming experience.
After another delicious lunch, where I had a chicken and seafood paella, with some roast beef and a skewer of barbecued fish outside on the terrace, I laid out in the sun by the pool on a sun bed, when I went to get up I had forgotten about my injury and managed to get up to standing from the sunbed which, was pretty low with ease and realised I had no pain or restriction of movement on my right side. Every time I have had to get up from a chair for the last six months it has been a real struggle. I started lifting my knee above hip height towards my chest and gently swung it to and fro and side-to-side, the freedom of movement and lack of pain I experienced was unbelievable. I walked back to my room without a limp and with a bounce in my step. After watching a pulsating Manchester City v Liverpool game with Arabic commentary I did some more stretching whilst running a bath before dinner, I was practicing Warrior 3 pose and was really working on lengthening my leg, trying to create a perfectly aligned long straight line from the tip of my toe to the tip of my fingers n my outstretched hands. I was literally pulling my right leg out of my hip socket as I stretched, which was creating space between my Femur (Thigh bone) and my Ilium (Hip bone).
I have woken up this morning, pain free and with increased mobility, my muscles feel worked, but loose and I cannot wait to get on my mat this morning and teach.
The location is amazing.
It is a truly unique coastal destination resort, less than an hour drive south of Casablanca and set in a region abounding in contrasts that has preserved all its authenticity.
Rooms and suites overlook the lagoon, the golf course, the swimming pool and the patio, plunging down to the sea from the terraces and offering a 180-degree view over the Atlantic Ocean.
The view will take your breath away.
If you would like to improve the quality of your life, by improving your breathing, clearing your mind and freeing your body by introducing yoga into your life or to strengthen your daily practice to help you focus, smile more and achieve your goals and live the life of your dreams? Click Here
My next yoga retreat and health, fitness and wellbeing break after this one in Morocco, will be in Mauritius in September with Olympic legend Daley Thompson, I have just seen the first draft of the advertising and it looks great and we will be sharing details of this amazing trip soon.
Have a marvellous Monday and a wonderful week.
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!
May all your dreams come true.
Breathe, Believe and Achieve
Be Happy, Healthy and Wise
Keep on Winning, Smiling and Living the Dream
Keep on Winning Smiling and Living the Dream