Stop trying to make me do yoga!
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If you tell me to do yoga one more ****ing time, I will bite your face off. Okay, maybe not your entire face, but I can’t promise that I won’t relieve you of a small chunk of face. Just a nibble.
Oh. You haven’t had your face bitten off before? Well, then how do you know you don’t like it?! Maybe you’ll love it! Maybe you just haven’t found the right face-biter. Maybe you haven’t found the right kind of face biting for you. I promise you. You’ll love it, and it will be so good for you!
If you have a chronic pain condition, I can guarantee this sounds familiar. Maybe you just haven’t found the right kind of yoga for you. To all the people who have pressed this over the years, let me tell you — the right kind of yoga for me is not-yoga. The last time I struck a yoga pose, I managed to dislocate my knee, damage the cartilage irreparably and get stuck with a limp that still comes back sometimes. The time before that, I hurt my shoulder. The time before that I don’t exactly remember what happened, because I fainted from pain. ‘Why?’ you might ask.
Hypermobility syndrome and Yoga
I have hypermobility syndrome. That means that my body’s collagen is all messed up. Collagen is basically what holds a person together. So, imagine a brick wall stuck together with chewing gum instead of cement. That’s me. That’s hypermobility.
Yoga is just about the worst exercise for people with hypermobility syndrome. Or for me, at least. I’ll try not to generalize. I’m already too stretchy, and my body can’t support those stretches properly. And yet still, and despite explaining this over and over again, it feels like there is an actual conspiracy to make me do yoga.
Stop trying to make me do yoga.
Even if yoga was super helpful for me — and I’m sure it has been for many people— it’s not your place to keep rattling on about it. I didn’t ask you. By all means, if I say ‘I’m at the end of my rope, and I need to start some exercises, do you have any recommendations?’ — tell me about how great yoga is. In the meantime, just don’t. As many people with a chronic pain disorder can tell you, if it is supposed to help, we’ve probably tried it.
I think that’s why it bothers me so much when people recommend yoga — or anything else — as a kind of miracle fix that will make everything so much better. Who are you to assume that I haven’t tried hard enough? Who are you to believe that you know what’s good for me and my hypermobility?
It isn’t just about yoga
Most people dealing with chronic pain are faced with the false idea they are still in pain because they haven’t done enough to help themselves. It’s really disheartening. People who don’t live with chronic issues often like to believe there is something to be done, perhaps because they’d like to think in the same situation, they would get better.
It feels like people who don’t live with these problems fail to understand there isn’t an easy fix. There is just pain management. Look — I know that yoga isn’t good for me, and yet every couple of years I give it a go and fuck myself up. Why? Because everyone else seems to think it’s a great idea. When I am deep in pain, I get desperate. I do things I know won’t help, or have little chance of helping. I drink apple cider vinegar. Bicarbonate of soda. Lemon juice. I try Pilates. I stop Pilates. I go gluten-free. I stop eating sugar. I walk more. I walk too fast. I walk less. I don’t walk at all. I try yoga.
Eventually, the pain subsides, because thankfully, in my case, that is just what it does.
When I am in that dark place, I need real support. So you want to help? Ask me what I need from you. I’ll give you a clue — it has nothing to do with yoga.