When I practice yoga at home, I have gotten into the habit of grabbing Tempest’s sparkly wand toy and having it at the front of the mat, where I can easily grab it in certain poses.

sparkly toy

This isn’t actually a good habit, when considered from the pure yogi point of view, but I don’t regret it from the entertaining-Tempest point of view. She loves it. She comes wandering into the living room when she hears the yoga video start, and we end up with several intense periods of play.

Sometimes when I’m going the “boat” posture, I grab Tempest if she happens to be nearby and put her on my “lap”, which means she’s really sitting on my stomach, sort of, and leaning on my legs. She really loves this. She purrs and purrs, and I get an even bigger ab workout.

It works for us. I get more traditional and meditative yoga sessions when I go to class, after all. I think my at-home yoga practice should be realistic to my life, to my home environment. And since that includes a cat who loves almost constant attention, well, yoga has to include the cat!

I keep waiting for a video that is designed for this purpose. “Yoga for Cats and their Humans” or something!

This week at yoga we did the Wheel. I have a hinky shoulder that comes out of joint, so I’m always hyperaware of how it feels. Ironically downward facing dog, one of the sort of cornerstone yoga poses (unless you stick to bikhram), gives me the most trouble. I can feel that my shoulder is often only partially in joint, which is not a good thing! Anything handstandy makes me pay close attention. The Wheel fits into that category, as my shoulder defines it. And sure enough it was feeling sort of hinky. The yoga teacher had me try it with blocks, so that my hands were on the blocks. This compensated for the fact that I’m not quite strong enough, or maybe not quite flexible enough, to come all that way up into Wheel with fully extended arms. And it made it easier to pull the elbows in (they have a tendency to splay out, for all of us, in postures like this), and when everything was pretty much as it should be, the shoulder was no longer feeling hinky!

This actually is true of downdog as well – when my shoulder feels hinky, it is because I’m not doing something right, it just isn’t always clear what.

I love yoga, clearly.

But I miss running. I used to be a runner, and I still think of myself as one, though I haven’t run in a long time. Almost a year, I think. In the past three years I’ve suffered from chronic ITBS, and it grounds me from running when I have flare ups. I hear people say “oh, I just run through it” and I tend to think that they aren’t talking about the same thing at all. They’re talking about the kind of pain that is the equivalent of a strained muscle, and I’m talking about the kind of pain and fascia malfunction that makes you fall flat on your face.

Literally. (I know from experience.)

And I have a high pain tolerance! So. ITBS = The Enemy.

I discovered in Denver that Chi-Running allows me to run, IT be damned. I took a class from a local instructor out of desperation. I’d tried the weeks and weeks of anti-inflammatories and physical therapy and the icing and the massaging and the ultrasound and the special shoes (three pairs, no good), and the inserts and the foam roller. My IT band is so freaking stretched out that a personal trainer trying to stretch it just…couldn’t. It is clearly not a problem of a tight IT band, and the foam roller just feels vaguely ticklish by now, so I’m pretty sure there is just no more scar tissue to be broken up by a foam roller.

My point is that I’d tried everything, aside from surgery, and I looked to Chi Running in desperation, having read something that made me think it might work. And to my amazement, it did.

It is a completely different biomechanics from the “power running” that is essentially the way every person (aside from more natural runners in maybe Kenya or somewhere else far from our typical track or gym coaches) runs, and so I have a hard time sticking to it because my body forgets and falls back into old habits. And I know when I fall out of it, even a little, because I promptly have IT issues again.

I moved from Denver, and my Chi Running coach moved to Hawaii in any case. It took me a year and a half to contact a chi running person here, but I finally did. I have a group tune-up on Sunday, and I’m really hoping that it gets me running again.

I miss it! I love yoga, but there’s something about running…

tempest feet