In last week’s Silent Sunday, I described the persistent edema (swelling) of my post-surgical leg: From thigh to knee to ankle, through the entire foot, the swollen limb has been aesthetically disconcerting and extremely uncomfortable. “Pain” is not entirely appropriate to describe the sensation of the tightly encased sausage that is now my leg; however, “insidious discomfort” aptly reflects the state of my leg… and my thoughts about it.
For today’s writing, I revisit the treatment that I created last week. After a week of noting my response to queries about my healing, I decided that both my attitude and last week’s therapeutic routine needed some tinkering. Throughout the week, I would answer the question of, “How are you doing?” or, “Are you making progress?” with a pause; then an affirmation of steps forward; followed immediately with a “but…” That “but” led into the description of the edema that would not quit. I found that my focus was more on the negative, i.e., incessant swelling, than the overall positive and real demonstrations of progress.
As I thought about the way in which I responded, I realized that my one-pointedness with regard to the edema may well be the thing that is preventing the full release of fluid. I was holding on to my discomfort and disappointment in a way that usurped the wonder of a new hip. Instead of accepting and encouraging the swelling and its drainage, respectively, I felt beleaguered and betrayed by its refusal to abate.
I do believe that each aspect of the original treatment that I created last week is beneficial. My demeanor around it, however, either negated or hampered its full effect. To remedy that, I have vowed to eliminate the “but” when asked about my recovery: From here on out, the answer will contain no reference to the edema (unless specifically asked).
Further, I have redesigned the routine itself to include a more developed pranayama; an essential oil blend to aid the goal of moving fluid; and an intense cleansing and energizing portion. Anything that may have appealed to you from last week’s suggestions certainly has its place in this new version: for example, color visualization and therapeutic sound. Keep the pieces that resonate with you, or try today’s variation as a brand new routine unto itself.
Special note: Although the following treatment arises out of my need to eliminate post-surgical fluid retention in the leg, the intricate pranayama and enlivening core exercise are profoundly effective means to center and refresh. If you are on your feet a lot, or conversely, sit for most of the day, today’s offering provides a full recharge.
First, I created an oil elixir that I applied to both legs and feet before embarking on the practice. Although I typically use only jojoba oil as a carrier for essentials, I for some reason intuited the need for a carrier blend: My base consists of sweet almond, Vitamin E, and jojoba oils. Roughly, I used 3 parts jojoba, to 2 parts almond, and 1 part Vitamin E.
For the healing essentials, I chose cypress, geranium, rosemary, and lavender. My first choice would have been Juniper Berry (instead of Cypress), but they offer similar effects: Cedarwood also would be a fine substitute. Feel free to select according to intuition and your nose’s preference.
Once the therapeutic blend has been absorbed (the Vitamin E and Almond oils need that time; jojoba, with its natural likeness to human sebum, absorbs almost immediately), position yourself on your back. Legs and feet should be elevated high enough to be clearly above the level of the heart. Cover yourself if that feels right to you.
Now, once again employing Varun Mudra on each hand—pinky finger held down into the palm by the thumb—position your hands, so that the three available fingers of the left hand (middle, ring, and pinky) line up and lie against the 3 free fingers of the right hand. Rest both hands where they naturally fall on your belly. Close your eyes, and begin the following pranayama pattern:
Ujjayi breath: 6 rounds, deeply inhaling and exhaling through the nose; the tongue rests down, away from the roof of the mouth, so that the throat gateway is fully open.
U-breath: This means that you will breath in through the mouth; out through the nose; in through the nose; and out through the mouth. For the first inhale, curl the tongue back toward the throat, touching the tip to the rear roof; breathe in through slightly parted lips.
Keep the tongue in place as you exhale through the nose. Then, breathe in through the nose, ujjayi-style, and out through the mouth: With lips in an O shape, exhale a long, steady “whoosh.”
Repeat the U-breath 3 times.
Now, do 1 ujjayi, followed by 1 full U-breath. Repeat for a total of 6 rounds.
Next, keep Varun Mudra, but leave the left hand resting on your torso; the right hand comes to the nose. Use the right index finger to close the right nostril: Breathe in and out through the left nostril 3 times. Breathe slowly, deeply, and steadily. Change hands, closing the left nostril, and repeat 3 breaths in and out through the right nostril.
To continue, bring the left palm to rest atop the belly button; release the mudra. Bring the right hand (without Varun Mudra) to the nose: Use the right thumb to block the right nostril; breathe in through the left. Close the left with the right ring finger; exhale through the right. Inhale through the right; then block the right to exhale through the left. Repeat Nadi Sodhana for a total of 3 rounds.
Finish with one more round of the opening pattern: 1 ujjayi, followed by 1 full U-breath.
Let both hands rest on the navel, one atop the other. Rest for a moment, allowing the breath to steady and find its natural flow.
Now, bring both legs to 90 degrees. In my case, I had to use a pillow to bolster my hips, as well as hold my legs steady. If you need to accommodate any limitations, do so. Like me, you may find that after the first round, you will not need to use support.
With the legs at 90 degrees, begin Breath of Fire. Aim for 26 of these rapid, belly-bouncing breaths through the nose. Then take a brief break, keeping the legs up.
For Round Two, raise both arms straight up from the shoulders: You will resemble an upside-down bug. Again, Breath of Fire, this time for 30-40 pulsing breaths.
Relax the arms down, resting about 6 inches away from the body on each side, palms down. Repeat Breath of Fire: Aim for 10-20 more breaths than the last round.
For the final round of this purifying, energizing, strengthening set, interlace the fingers behind the neck. Give your all to Breath of Fire for at least 50 breaths.
When you are done, slowly lower the legs back onto your elevated support. If possible, ease the feet down off of the elevation, knees bent, to lift the hips either all the way or as much as you can toward Bridge Pose. Breathe deeply in whatever position you can attain.
Then, with your legs either elevated or resting down at the level of the heart, enter Svasana. Remain here for as long as feels right to you.