Pilates and Yoga: Treatment or Torture
Are these really remedies?
A number of years ago I fell in the bathroom and hit my lower back on the edge of the bathtub. For a couple of days I was in a lot of pain and all my back muscles were extremely sore, but I recovered. I went to work and had no problem. As time went on I developed some pain in my arms and hands. Seeing an OT at work, the pain was attributed repetitive motions of using a microscope all day long. Just to make sure, I had a back x-ray, which showed nothing.
At about the same time as this happened I quit smoking. Everyone said I would feel so much better. Well I didn't. I developed chronic sinusitis, for which I had the mandatory surgery, which didn't work. I gained a lot of weight and overall I felt miserable. I did manage to go to the gym at least three times a week and even did special stretching exercises to help my back. I still felt miserable and fat. Three years ago I retired from my job and moved to Penang, Malaysia.
Well the food in Malaysia is fabulous and I love it all. Unfortunately salad bars are not common here and rice or rice noodles are served with every meal. In addition everything is cooked with oil. Even grilled food is cooked with a lot of oil. Needless to say I added even more weight. Because of this i joined Fitness First Gym here a little over two years ago. I worked for about a year on my own with few results. I then worked with a personal trainer for about a year, also with few results. My trainer said my metabolism was very low and I had difficulty losing weight. I guess he was just being nice. I admit that I did feel better, but I didn't lose a pound. I even cut back quite a bit on what I ate, with no change.
Well I was overweight, suffered from lower back pain all of the time, all my muscles and joints were constantly sore and stiff and I could hardly breath, thanks to my sinusitis. My trainer, some friends and fellow gym members recommended yoga and pilates. I had nothing to lose, except for weight, so I started taking classes. I take three 1 hour classes of pilates on M,W and F and take two classes of yoga on T and Th. The one on Thursday is 1 1/2 hours long. I have been taking these classes for about two months now. I must say that both yoga and pilates are sheer torture for me
I am one of the oldest members of these classes, as most of the participants are in their early twenties and are very coordinated and flexible. It is amazing how you lose your agility, flexibility and even your balance as you grow older, and you don't even notice it. I can't do many, if not most, of the movements, as I just don't have the flexibility. Much of the time I feel as though I am going to break in half and my lower back literally kills me. I just remember what everyone tells me. "It takes time and you will feel better." Researching both pilates and yoga I found that they both help lower back pain, arthritic joints, bronchitis and sinusitis in practitioners. My question is, "when does it start helping?" Some days my back and muscles around my waist feel worse that ever and I can hardly breath with my sinuses constantly draining down the back of my throat.
I know a lot of my problems are attributed to getting older, loving food too much and not much will power, but at least I am trying to do something positive. I really feel better after each class, but I think the reason is that the pain is over until the next class. I really dread going some times, but I refuse to give up, just in case yoga and pilates really do work after time. I have a couple of friends who complain about joint problems, but scoff at the idea doing exercise. They would rather give the money to doctors and pharmacies. I would rather try to keep active and fight my maladies in a more natural way. Even though I suffer during these classes I enjoy being with the people. I feel as though while I am exercising my muscles and joints I am also exercising my mind. For me yoga and pilates may not bring me back twenty years ago, but I think it is a good alternative treatment for what ails me.