A few years ago, I started experiencing numbness in my hands and the report of the MRI scan on my neck mentioned a diagnosis of a “prolapsed intervertebral disc”. I think in simple terms, that means my spine is out of alignment.
What cured my numbness problem in the end is yoga, and I want to share my recovery process with anyone wondering about learning yoga to correct their alignment issues, as it may also benefit them.
Through my past few years exploring yoga, I have learnt that it is indeed very powerful in making changes to ones body. But when one is new to yoga (like I used to be), one may not realize yoga can help in very specific ways, (yes, even prolapsed intervertebral disc at C4/5, C5/6, C6/7, and T1/2 levels). And therefore I didn’t know the best way to approach yoga.
Like most people, I first started going to yoga classes just because it’s something offered with the gym package, and since there appeared many types of yoga offered, I wanted to give it a try just out of curiosity to find out what these strange names like “hatha yoga” or “ashtanga yoga” mean. Since the first class I have attended, I was very much drawn to the practice. Guruji Yogananthji made it so much fun to try the poses! Within a short time, I found myself going to every yoga class he’s teaching in that gym. No matter how tired I was before the class, I would come out feeling invigorated, and thankful that I went. I still remember the day when I conquered my fear and did a headstand that made the highlight of my day. Doing something which I once thought was impossible for me was an incredibly nice feeling. Yet, I still noticed something was not quite right. There were certain postures that remained unattainable, despite my being so diligent. And worse, my neck pain and numbness didn’t seem to have significant improvements!
Luckily, I decided to reveal to my guruji Yogananthji my alignment problems before I got frustrated and ran away from yoga when I kept noticing how other students could perform certain poses while I couldn’t. Patiently, my guruji explained to me the importance of first learning the postures targeted at correcting my specific problems through individual classes, and introduced me to Master Vishnu who is experienced in treating patients with postural alignment issues. Both masters examined my MRI scan and prescribed a course of treatment for me.
Master Vishnu introduced me to the use of props like sticks, blocks, belts, and gradually introduced me to the principles of Andiappan yoga. I got to practice many different poses, and all targeted at my problems, and tailored to my gradually improving and changing body. He also encouraged me to read more books to learn about the practice, too. Doing the inversion on the ropes was another highlight of my practice!
This opportunity to have individual lessons in yoga not only equips me with the ability to cure my own problems (I now have better knowledge on how to prevent my body getting out of alignment), but most of all, it put me on my first step to the discover the immense power of yoga! Every time I look into the mirror and see the evenness now on the two sides of my back, I really think the experience has been priceless.
It is such joy to realize there is a vast body of knowledge behind yoga. The fact that one’s spinal alignment can be manipulated by daily practice of postures and counter postures is just one fascinating fact. I can never thank both my masters enough for their dedication to helping students and patients find their ways of yoga and opening my heart and mind to it. Now I can continue onto group classes and see if I can do those postures I wasn’t able to do, and also to keep discovering the other benefits of yoga!
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