Let me tell you – you are not the sum of your hips! Your focus in this healing process should not just be on the structural problems and surgical corrections that you have. The body is an amazingly intricate miracle - everything is connected from the nerve impulses and thoughts in your brain to the bottoms of your feet and everything in between. Your nutrition can impact your health and recovery as can your thoughts and outlook.
This I know to be true.
With that belief system, I embarked on my first ever Ayurvedic 7-day cleanse. In case you do not know, the science of Ayurveda focuses on food as medicine. I was excited to try something new and to hopefully help give me the edge in getting over some cranky hip imbalances. And, to perhaps throw the momentum my way instead of my hips’ way. They have a mind of their own and they have NOT been listening to me. So, I enlisted the help of Melissa Singh, Ayurvedic Health Coach, Yogi, & Meditation Teacher.
I was very impressed with how I felt during this process and, in fact, on Day 7 of the cleanse, I had a training appointment with Jeremy, my amazing Personal Trainer. He commented on my energy level which was fairly high and was reflected in my ability to complete the exercises he asked of me with minimal whining! My lack of whining is usually a good sign and definitely less grating on Jeremy’s nerves, I’m sure.
In talking with Melissa, she shared with me several things as I have an inquiring mind! I want to know stuff – I was the 5-year-old that always asked, “Why?” To start with my why questions, I asked Melissa why and how she came up with her concept of Yogi Fuel.
Her idea was really simple, she said. “I wanted to support yogis in taking their practice off the mat, into the kitchen, and every aspect of their lives. So, I was thinking, how do I help yogis FUEL their body, mind and soul using the wisdom of Yoga and Ayurveda. One night it just came to me… Yogi Fuel. And BOOM, that was it!”
Also, to clarify what Ayurverdic medicine, I asked Melissa to tell me be a little bit about Ayurverdic medicine and her path and background. She told me that she “became interested in Ayurveda several years ago after [she] took a Dosha quiz and it literally nailed everything that was going on for [her].”
She began a “steady Ashtanga Yoga practice [and her] desire to learn more deepened.” She relayed to me that she, “felt that the practice unearthed something in [her}, and [she] was drawn more and more to Ayurveda. [She] completed [her] studies with Dr. David Frawley, and was in awe of the radical changes [she] saw in [her] body, and mind after implementing simple Ayurvedic principles into [her] diet and lifestyle. And so now [she] makes it [her] mission to bring the wisdom of this ancient practice to yogis in a way that is accessible and supportive to their lifestyle.”
This Hopeful Hippy also asked her how Ayurverdic medicine can complement recovery from surgery? She shared that, “Ayurveda works on the idea that we are always trying to live in harmony and create balance within and without. Whenever we go through surgery, which can be traumatic for the body, we are trying to re-establish balance. By eating foods that are simple and easy to digest, using meditation or pranayama as a means of calming the mind, and creating supportive daily routines and rituals, we can support the body and mind as it heals naturally post-surgery.”
Knowing that there is so much energy (mental, emotional and physical) being expended after surgery, I asked her what easy changes to a patient's nutrition could be made that would not be burdensome in their recovery?
Her suggestion provided common sense– “eat a simpler diet that is easy to digest. Post-surgery our body is working hard to support the area of the body that has just undergone surgery. We want to spend as little energy as possible working on digestion and preserve the body energy for healing. Favouring Kitchari, soups, oatmeal, and other warming, grounding, easy to digest foods are key!”
Like I said, I have an inquiring mind and you know I love yoga for the mental health benefits that it has provided me during my hip recoveries. I asked Melissa, “What would be an easy yoga philosophy that a recovering orthopedic surgical patient could implement while they are non-weight bearing?”
Melissa, with excitement about this question replied, “Ohh there are so many I would want to say here. This could be a whole post on its own! But I would say practicing non-attachment [the practice of being able to let things go and not get hung up or stagnant].
Recovering from surgery, and being bound by non-weight bearing is challenging, but presents a very interesting opportunity for practice. We get to observe how attached we are to our movement. To our practices. To our body.
And in so doing, we can begin to practice non-attachment. A good practice is to observe the frustration, or thoughts that come up about not being able to weight bear. Practice noticing all the thoughts that come into your consciousness. Feel free to write them down.
Observe those thoughts as separate to yourself; just like clouds in the sky of your mind.
Practice is so much more than making shapes with our body, and the real wisdom of Yoga comes out in situations like these, where we feel stuck and challenged. This is where we need presence and Yoga the most.”
Capitalizing on Melissa’s nutritional background and passion, I also wanted to understand how good nutrition can support the physical and emotional aspect of healing from surgical intervention.
Melissa’s response was, “Food is energy. It is a vehicle for our Prana [life force].
[Food] also contains, within it, vital micro and macro nutrients which are used in every cell of our body. When we are recovering, our body requires additional support to recover optimally, especially more micro-nutrients to support our cellular functioning. So favouring micro-nutrient dense foods is key! Emotionally, food is energy, like I said. And we can create deeper healing by being intentional and mindful as we cook it. When in recovery we want to favour foods which are nourishing and grounding so as to imbibe those qualities within our body and mind.”
I am a Hopeful Hippy who also genuinely believes that a positive outlook can impact rehab from physical injury and surgery and Melissa confirmed my gut beliefs!
She said that, “a positive outlook while recovering is perhaps the most important thing.
Our mind is very powerful, and absolutely impacts our physical body.”
She reinforced to not confuse “a positive outlook for being happy all the time, or never feeling frustration. What’s important is that we give ourselves space and time to feel those feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, or whatever else comes up, and learn how to hold them with equanimity.
Life is hard. And whether what you’re going through right now is recovering from surgery, or the loss of a loved one, or an illness, observing your feelings and emotions, honouring them as valid, and regarding them with equanimity is the most important thing you can do in your healing process.
It’s important to understand that feelings of sadness and grief can exist alongside feelings of hope, and faith. And it’s important to allow ourselves to experience the full gamut of human emotion and experience, and hold everything as sacred, and an opportunity for practice.”
So, what is the takeaway? Be kind to yourself, honor your journey and be mindful that thoughts, beliefs and good nutrition can impact your health, both in the short-term and long term.
I’m very excited as I definitely learned some new tools from this experience and a new perspective on my hip healing journey. My husband thinks my attitude may be considered to be a tad more “hippy” now, but I’m enjoying the new swag even though my hips are still cranky.