Slowly, over time, my hips have somehow frozen up. Not that they’ve ever been especially equal. My left side has always been stronger than the right. In yoga, it was always the left side that felt better aligned and more flexible. I often let the left guide me in my movements. The right always did it’s best to keep up. But it was stubbornly creaky and painful. The right side always resisted. And then one day, it just seemed to freeze up.
When I finally threw in the towel and got myself to a physical therapist about this poor hip, I couldn’t imagine why I hadn’t done that years before. Why on earth had a limped along so long in pain? Did I never wonder if things could be better?
“Yeah,” she laughed. “That’s what folks always say. Most of us put up with pain and discomfort way longer than we need to.”
Miracle worker that she was, she got busy immediately on my right side, climbing on top of me, tugging at my leg, using her own body as leverage, moving bone in joint and muscle attached to bone. She inserted needles! For months, she worked and I did too. Each morning, in front of the morning news, I went through a series of VERY SPECIFIC exercises, all designed to unfreeze what had slowly, over a lifetime perhaps, gotten itself hopelessly blocked. Gradually and magically it seemed to me, my right side began to cooperate. It moved more easily. I felt less pain. There was finally freedom in a joint that had been nothing but painful before.
That was all wonderful of course, but not by a long shot was it the most incredible part of this. Yes, my hip moved more easily and without pain. But there was more. To my utter amazement and no small amount of confusion, I realized that my hip actually felt joy. There’s no other way to say it. When the pain was released and the tightness coaxed loose, when space was created, my joint felt joy. Ease, mobility and, yes, joy. It was an amazing thing to experience.
This fine discovery might have been a lovely little tale if it had been in fact the end of the story. But it definitely was not. As if it resented all the attention being heaped upon the right side of my body, the left side rebelled. Its role as guide, the strong and flexible one was evidently being threatened. As my right side gradually freed itself, the left squirmed into a jagged and cramped position. And from there, the left screamed out in pain. It reacted to the right’s new-found freedom like a petulant child whose routine was being arbitrarily changed. Renewal on the right side of me rearranged everything it appeared. The left side of my body found itself compressed and restricted. Searing pains shot down the left leg as if that hip, the balanced, strong and flexible one, had been mistreated, rejected in favor of the newer, fresher, and younger right side.
It lashed out!
Once again, I found myself on the physical therapist’s table. More tugging, pulling, stretching. Mercifully, no more needles. More exercises in front of the morning news. Slowly but surely, the left relaxed and moved back into a good position. My two hips began to work together. Gradually there was harmony between my two sides. Somewhat begrudgingly too, the left began to feel the joy the right was still enjoying.
How eloquent the body is! How clearly it speaks to us of itself, but also of so much more that’s relevant to our daily lives. I still do my daily exercises but with more appreciation now for what I have and for what my hips have given me. Now I regard them with compassion. And also, a sense of humor. We had a crisis to be sure. But they responded well as did I. I’m more grateful to my hips now. I love them for all they do for me physically, but also what they teach me about myself. And also about joy!