In the Armenian language, the word “gamatz” means to go easy, be patient, take your time. It’s usually spoken by a wrinkly grandfather type in a sage sounding tone. “Gamatz, gamatz,” he’ll say, along with a calming hand gesture of some sort. If only I could listen to such great advice. Then maybe I wouldn’t keep hurting myself.
I understand the wisdom of this. But as a Manic Impressive, I have trouble taking the gamatz approach when it comes to my health.
I tend to barrel into things with great energy and enthusiasm, especially around exercise. That’s why I’ve had surgeries on my ankle, knee and rotator cuff in the past two years alone. Physical therapy clinics adore me.
When I get into my workout gear, gamatz goes out the window and it’s just a matter of time before I’m hurting myself again.
Yoga The Hard Way
So when I decided to try Bikram Yoga last month, I flung myself at it whole hog. They offered me a 2-week Unlimited New Student Membership. Naturally I bought it and vowed to go 14 days in a row. Hey, I’m a cheap bastard. I had to get my money’s worth.
The first day I managed to make it all the way through the 90-minute class in the 105-degree studio. Sweat dripped off me in buckets, and though I couldn’t manage a lot of the poses, I made it through to the end. It felt great.
The next day featured a different instructor. He was much tougher than the first, and an hour and fifteen minutes in I cried ‘Uncle!’ and hit the showers to cool off. But it felt good, so I showed up again the next day.
The day after that, I actually made it all the way through the class. I took a few breaks during the session to pace myself. Feeling more flexible, my balance was improving, and I was getting the hang of those poses. Yay me!
I went the whole class without farting even once.
Oh No, Not Again
But on the fifth day it all came crashing down. I finally made it up into the “Bow” pose: balanced on my left foot, left arm stretched out in front of me, right arm pulling my right leg behind me as far as it would go. But that wasn’t enough for me.
The leg had to go back further. Just couldn’t be happy getting into the pose – I had to beat it. I had to conquer it. I had to tell it who its daddy was.
Then just as my leg entered new territory, TWANG! My hamstring popped. I crumpled to a heap on my matt. I was done, and so was my 14-Day Unlimited New Student Membership.
Why I Keep Hurting Myself
It’s been two weeks and the hamstring’s still healing. This is nothing new, though. I’m always hurting myself. Like when I started exercising after my last surgery, tore my labrum and ended up in physical therapy for two more months. Or when I re-fractured a freshly-healed ankle and had to use crutches for six more weeks.
Self-care has never been a Manic Impressive strong suit. We charge right in with boundless energy and pure intent. But we end up doing dumb things like making up for months of neglect with 14 straight days of yoga. We can’t help it. It’s how we are.
I’m always hurting myself because this is how I’m wired.
But don’t worry, I’ll be back at it soon enough. We Manics are resilient. Only this time I’m gonna learn from my mistakes.
Yes, this time I will heed the smarter voice in the back of my head. I will slow down, take it easy, and actually listen when it says gamatz, gamatz…