Yoga has Shamed Me.

on Jan 31, 2012
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“Ok,” I said, “I’ll take 50 of these.” It was about $1 for the 50. On the back of the pills it clearly stated “FOR SALE ONLY WITH A PRESCRIPTION FROM A REGISTERED MEDICAL PRACTITIONER”.

I had no prescription. I had just gone to a random store. They sold cookies also. They sold me the 50 pills. Asked if I wanted more. They showed me prescription strength ibuprofen. I took 100. Another dollar.

I had back pain. I had stretched too far. Done something wrong in a move I had done 100 times before. But I wanted to impress. I was in India. I was sweating more, stretching more, the world-famous teacher walking around the class was looking over occasionally. I was probably the oldest person in the class and they were all twisting into pretzels. But I had to at least show I had improved over the year before.

Then my back hurt so much I could barely walk. I was ashamed. I took a couple of days off. But I didn’t want to skip anymore or show up in a weakened state, only able to do baby moves (although babies are much more flexible than me so wrong analogy).

When I got back home I googled the pills. I had three goals. Does it work as a painkilller, is there recreational use? (why not), is it addictive, and will it kill me. I guess that’s four goals. The fourth I took for granted.

It turns out on the entire world wide web made up of over one billion people, people have a mixed opinion on this drug, tramadol. It sort of works like codeine, but it’s the opposite. Its highly addictive, but it was made to avoid addiction. It makes you feel happy, but can also cause epileptic seizures. The worst is, if you get addicted and then stop taking it you start to feel electric shocks all over you body within 12 hours.

I had originally asked for percocet but they laughed and said, “Not in India, sir.” They kept laughing. Then they sold me this. There’s no rules here.

Here’s my plan: in an hour I’m going to take one of these and then 600mg of Ibuprofen, which I also bought in pill form in the same medical store. Here’s the stupid thing about the US FDA. 600mg of Ibuprofen is 1.5x prescription strength (400mg) but you can buy 200mg anywhere. So why ever get a prescription? Just take 3 tablets.

I figured with the double-strength painkiller I can do the workout and then worry about the epileptic seizures and addiction later.

So I made several mistakes that are all too common in various areas of life:

I tried too hard when I thought people were looking. I wanted to impress instead of just working on my own practice.

I didn’t listen to my own body telling me I was stretching too far. How often do we burn ourselves out when we surpass our natural limitations. My back had been hurting me even before I had gotten to India. I think I was stressed about this blog and everytime I typed my back would hurt. That back pain decided to come out and play full force.

I have a shame factor now. I hate to go back to class weaker and unable to do certain moves but in a few hours I’m going back. I wanted to show how much I improved year over year. Now I’ve taken a step back. Normally when I feel shame, I quit. I don’t want to quit now.

Also because of the shame factor I’m going to go above and beyond trying to cure the pain.
BUT, I’m going to take it slow. I’ll probably do half of what I normally do and try to build back. I don’t want to be crazy, after all. And if it’s not perfect, it’s not perfect.

Claudia told me when I got here, “you can’t write ‘Yoga has Humiliated Me’ again. You’ve been doing it too long now.” Last year in India I wrote that article. And then I wrote a sequel in April when the teacher from India came to teach us in NYC.

Fine, Claudia. Yoga hasn’t humiliated me. Hold on one second while I take the Tramadol and the Ibuprofen. Its 2.5 hours until the class starts. I’m timing it just right according to the world wide web. Claudia tells me its the worst thing to take a painkiller before class because then your body won’t know when to stop. So I have to be careful.

Meanwhile, as the sun spreads its pink and yellow morning hues out, the Muslims from several blocks away begin to chant. Their voices rising over the houses, melodic, lyrical, singing praises of God. I like listening to them in the morning.

The other yoga students are walking to their classes. The women with baskets balanced on their heads carrying whatever are walking through the streets. In a minute the woman who cleans this house will arrive. She gets paid almost nothing per month. She doesn’t know when her birthday is. At least I know when mine is.



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3 Responses to “Yoga has Shamed Me.”

  1. paulmorris says:

    what happened to contentment?

  2. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Hi James! I'm not sure if I'd practice yoga while injured or while on painkillers, and don't forget you don't have to practice the physical asana to practice yoga. 🙂 🙂 Love to Claudia.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  3. Ben_Ralston says:

    James, I don't often write about Yoga, but I did today so I hope you don't mind me linking to it here:

    By the way, Yoga teachers (let alone 3 of them!) shouldn't try to force students into position. Neither should they leave a student sitting uncomfortably at the back of the class. You should have been given instruction – at the very least to relax in corpse pose. That's poor teaching. I don't care who it is, it's just really, really poor teaching. (I think I read that in your first article ‘Yoga has Humiliated Me’?)