Greetings from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Who knew that another stay in the hospital would be prompt and fodder for blogging again. Well idle hands as they say.
As anyone who knows me or my teachings know that I’m slightly obsessed with the art and science of observation. The ability to be the witness to ones own experience and to make informed conscious decisions is, in my opinion, the key to a happy healthy life.
Those who also know me know that lately I’ve been slightly obsessed with the work of Katy Bowman. Her podcast is Katy Says and her website is www.nutritiousmovement.com. She is a bio-mechanist by training and movement specialist by avocation. She has thousands of blogs, 6 books, numerous dvds and a prolific instagram page. What has intrigued me most about her work is that fact that everything she does she relates back to research on the long term benefits of movement in our society and what the lack of movement doing to us as a culture. But I’m busy you say I move all the time. I work out I chase my kids but take out the time you sleep and the time per day you dedicate to “exercise” and then see how much you actually sit. Count eating, watching TV, working at the computer. If you do math (I can not) put it into percentages. What you see may surprise you. Then go read her book called: Move you DNA.
As she has matured and evolved in her thinking and teaching (as we all should) her philosophies have gone from movement as a way to better health and longer life to the long term environmental, socio-economic impact a sedentary life has on the planet. How did this all come home to roost, well let me fill you in.
Two months ago I jumped on the nutritious movement bandwagon and began to see how I would incorporate more movement, more outdoor movement and start doing what Katy calls “stacking” your life. Getting multiple things accomplished but not from the perspective of multi tasking and being distracted. Think how can I get in a walk, catch up with my friends, get out of doors, listen to a podcast or maybe even have lunch all with one hike. The first thing I did was start with her movement practices, started transitioning to minimal foot wear and observing how much I actually sat instead of moved. (that’s the self observation part!)
Very quickly I become more mobile, stronger and more stable and could see the difference in how I was sleeping, working and moving. It was great and I loved bringing it to my classes. What I began to observe was that each of us has our “thing”. For the folks I teach its yoga but there is cycling, running, walking swimming and in the summer water sports. We are the active sedentary folks. But everyone was still having back problems, knee problems, hip and shoulders troubles. I was constantly trying to incorporate the mindfulness of Yoga Therapy and the therapeutic application of Melt into my classes and we were getting great results but couldn’t make huge long term changes. Some of us were but what that came down to was the folks who (surprise, surprise) had increased their daily intake of movement over all.
So how does this lead to being stuck in the hospital for two weeks, well movement or lack there of, particularly for my intestines. After cancer surgery and treatment we have had a detante of sorts to keep them working. A closed loop bowel obstruction (squeeze the balloon in two places) put me back in the hospital where after two surgeries in two day and being left open in between, which is gross beyond belief, they closed me up and plugged me in to so many tubes, valves and hoses that I looked like a bad sci-fi experiment gone wrong. As I slowly come out of this post surgical fog the whole game has been to get bowel function or motility back. And all this time the medical protcol wants you to wake up those bowels (either traumatized from surgery or paralyzed with a partial blockage) without eating, drinking or actually moving too much and then they want you to get up and move your body but you’re so weak you can’t. Keep in mind the hospital movement criteria was that three laps around the nurse’s station a day is good.
I had a different perspective this time around. No cancer, no more blockages (hopefully) and this idea of movement as a way to heal and stacking movement into my life. So I went back to the basics, move the breath. Could I even do it on my own? Not well for a while. How long, how deep, how could it calm my nervous system? So I moved what I could and what didn’t hurt and used that as a place to start. Kinda like when you were little and crashed on your bike or fell out of a tree. You had to lie there a while and take a survey of what hurt and what still worked. Then you could start tentatively testing the rest. So feet, swollen but the toes and ankles moved, check. The fingers, yep, swollen too but everything moved that wasn’t filled with a tube or line, check. Head, eye balls mostly okay once the drugs started to leave the system. Knees bent a bit, no spinal twisting, abdomen to swollen for pelvis to really move, check, but surprisingly because I had been “hanging” more my arms were pretty strong so I was able to push and pull my bloated sutured up self around the bed. So every day I do a bit more and every day the staff is astounded at how fast I am recovering. Still not fast enough to get rid of the Naso-Gastric tube pumping stuff out of my stomach. So before this becomes a novel, let’s just say that the practices of my teachings come into play every day, everywhere. Whether you are, as “Katy Says”, a mover, sedentary or actively sedentary you have to be aware of it first. Once you are aware you can make small changes. So take a breath, see what works and go from there.