Growing up, I was a huge fan of the original 90210 series and Silk Stalkings. (I couldn’t even go to school the next day after Chris died in the 5th season of Silk Stalkings). So when I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, I freaked out. I could only think about how the disease was explained when both Kelly Taylor and Rita Lance were diagnosed with the disease. On BH 90210, Kelly was told that she was probably infertile (which the remake of 90210 seemed to have forgotten when she showed up with a son). On Silk Stalkings, they said it was an infection of the Uterus which my doctor quickly told me was wrong. But the show did have one thing right, “it is all the pain of a pregnancy with none of the fun.” So today I came across clips on youtube, exactly the way I remembered them.
A while back, my acupuncturist, Dawna Ara, mentioned I should check out The Awareness Center in Pasadena during my personal challenge to try something new every day. She mentioned that they practice Kundalini Yoga and that it could help me with the effects of Endometriosis.
A year and a half ago, my doctor realized that I was compensating for my Endo pain on my left side by favoring my right side. My balance was off and over time, my right side became so much stronger than my left. In fact, I couldn’t even balance on my left leg any longer and I was even walking differently. I had started physical therapy but it was too costly. Plus, my physical therapist had me doing the majority of the exercises on my own. I was actually using my Wii and Yoga training through the Wii Fit. But after my car accident last May, I stopped working on my Endo pain therapy and had to spend months focusing on recovering from my injuries on my neck and back. Now that my neck and back are doing better, I can go back to focusing on my Endo management. (I also need to work on losing the weight I gained from the depression following my accident). Since Yoga was helping before, I figured I could start doing it again. But this time, instead of only using my Wii and at home Yoga DVDs, I decided I would try out some classes.
Following Dawna’s advice, I went to The Awareness Center website to learn more about the Kundalini style of yoga. According to the site, the history of this particular type of yoga is as follows:
Kundalini yoga is considered the most comprehensive system of yoga at is combines meditation, prayer, asana (physical postures), and pranayama (breathing exercises). “Kundalini” literally means “the curl of the lock of hair of the beloved.” This poetic metaphor refers to the flow of energy and consciousness that exists within each of us, enabling us to merge with the Universal Self. Yoga, literally translated as “divine union”, happens when the individual and universal consciousness are merged. The Upanishads, the sacred scriptures of Hinduism that date back to the fifth century B.C., provided a written description of Kundalini, although the oral tradition dates back even further. For thousands of years, this sacred science and technology was veiled in secrecy, passed along in the oral tradition from master to chosen disciple.
Kundalini Yoga was never taught publicly until Yogi Bhajan, Ph. D. challenged the age-old tradition of secrecy. In his compassionate wisdom, Yogi Bhajan brought Kundalini Yoga to the United States in 1969. Since then, it has spread all over the world. He wrote, “I am sharing these teachings to create a science of the total self…It is the birthright of every human being to be healthy, happy and holy.” The master of Kundalini Yoga, and head of the Sikh faith for the Western Hemisphere, Yogi Bhajan also founded 3HO (The Healthy, Happy, and Holy Organization), a worldwide non-profit foundation that offers classes in Kundalini Yoga, meditation, vegetarian nutrition, and healthy life choices.
Kundalini Yoga was designed for the householder: those who live in the world, who have families and jobs, and who want to balance the inner and outer world. Kundalini Yoga fits the busy lives that most of us lead. It is effective, efficient and easy. People who practice Kundalini Yoga say they can feel changes in the body and psyche within a few minutes, and experience even deeper changes through regular practice. Although it can be practiced religiously each day, yoga is not a religion. A more accurate description of yoga would be to say that it is an ancient science.
The Awareness Center
Our mission is to provide you with a practice and technology to feel comfortable in your
body, connected and expressed in relationships, fulfilled in your life’s work and at
peace with yourself. Through Kundalini yoga and meditation as well as many other transformational practices, we are here to inspire, uplift and empower you.
Established in 1974, the Awareness Center began as a 3HO ashram in Altadena, run by founders Dr. Santokh and Suraj Khalsa. Everyone remembers the big white house on the top of New York Drive. It has been through many changes over the years, but the one thing that has remained constant is the offering of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation to the Pasadena community. Anyone who has visited the center knows that The Awareness Center is a family. It still evokes a comfortable feeling of “home”, a feeling that leads students to deeper states of relaxation and renewal. The Awareness Center affirms that by using the body and mind through exercise, breath, and meditation, you can balance and revitalize your nerves and glands, clear past blocks, and bring harmony and peace to your life.
The Awareness Center is now owned and operated by Wahe Guru Kaur/Gisela Powell. She is committed to honoring the wisdom and teachings from the past and to expanding our Kundalini Yoga family well into the future.
The Awareness Center is located on Foothill Blvd, just east of Daisy. I actually passed the building when I first arrived and then struggled to find parking, making me late for my first class. But now I know, for the future, that there is two-hour free parking on Daisy and the neighborhood streets just north of Foothill.
Class had already begun when I arrived but I was escorted into the Yoga room and quickly set up my mat, trying my best not to disturb anyone. I was able to step right into the warm-up exercises. During the relaxation time before exercises, the Instructor, Helen, came over to welcome me and give me a quick introduction. She told me that Kundalini Yoga isn’t about perfection or competition. It is very loving and forgiving, you just do your personal best. There is no judgement, just a chance to relax and get to know yourself better. The class represented all levels of yoga and we could adjust it to meet our own needs.
This particular class had a lot of abdominal work. During some of the floor exercises, I became very aware that my left side is still incredibly weak compared to my right side. I struggled with some of the leg lifts, realizing I really need to get back to my Endo therapy. This class definitely helped.
When class ended, Helen came over again to talk with me and tell me more about her classes. She said that every class is different. There are so many different poses, stretches, and exercises in Kundalini Yoga that no class is ever exactly the same. Being a Libra who easily gets bored doing the same thing over and over again, I really liked the fact that each class would be different. I also liked the whole non-judgemental vibe. You didn’t have to worry if you couldn’t stretch as far as the others or that you were struggling when others were not. Everyone was focused on their own exercises. It was a very relaxing and welcoming environment.
I am definitely going to return and continue taking yoga classes at The Awareness Center.
Considering how sore I am from yesterday’s adventure, I decided that I would try something a little less active. Since I had an appointment scheduled with my amazing acupuncturist, Dawna Ara, I decided that maybe I should try something different.
I first started seeing Dawna after my car accident back in May. She did a wonderful job assisting with my recovery and healing process. And even though I am technically done with the therapy on my injuries, I keep going back to see her because I feel so good after an acupuncture session. She is helping me deal with the stress from my job and the pain from my severe Endometriosis. So today, I asked her if there was something else that I should try besides the acupuncture. She mentioned Cupping.
I remember the first time I had ever heard of cupping was from a tabloid story about Gwyneth Paltrow’s spots on her back. Then it came out that the spots were a result of cupping, a form of acupuncture that involves heated cups over the skin to promote blood flow and ease stress, aches and pains. Cupping can involve the acupuncture needles but Dawna chooses to just stick with the heated cups. She isn’t a fan of the more extreme forms of cupping that literally involves blood flowing…into the cups.
According to Acupuncture Today, “cupping is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine.” It is often used to treat congestion, arthritis, pain, depression and to reduce swelling. The American Cancer Society states that “Cupping is supposed to realign and balance the flow of one’s vital energy or life force called qi or ch’i, pronounced “kee” or “chee.” In the presence of illness or injury, proponents say, the qi is disturbed and there may be too much or too little at certain points in the body. The practitioner diagnoses any imbalances in the qi and attempts to restore them.” It is also thought that this is an excellent way to remove toxins from the body. There is no real scientific proof of the benefits of cupping but if the Chinese have been using this for thousands of years, there has to be something working. For me, as a Libra who seeks balance, how could I possibly resist trying a new method to get rid of the imbalances in my life?
For today, my imbalances lie in my sore muscles and Dawna decided to use the fire cupping technique to treat my condition. After finishing up my acupuncture, Dawna applied oils and lotions to my back. (This is to help move some of the jars up and down my back). She pulled out several glass jars that looked like mini fish bowls. She used a swab to apply alcohol to the inside of the glass jars and used the flame from a lighter to ignite the substance, removing the oxygen from the jar. She quickly placed the heated jar on my back and as it cooled, it created a vacuum that caused my skin to rise up into the jar.
It sounds like it would hurt but it didn’t. It was an intense feeling but not at all painful. She placed several jars on my back, some remained stationary while others were moved around my back. Again, there was nothing painful about this procedure. I felt like I was getting a deep tissue massage as she moved some of the jars up and down my back. After a few minutes, I heard the popping noises as she took the jars off my back. I felt great.
And even though I have red streaks and hickey-type marks on my back, it was totally worth it. My muscles are relaxed and the majority of the soreness I felt before drifted away into the glass vacuums. I would definitely do this again.
It seems appropriate that this video was just released. Right now, I am dealing with my own dark sides–Endo and Depression.
OK, so today would mark the end of the Endo madness for this month. So as I reflect on this past week, I have to wonder, did the Endo diet help? Actually, it did.
It was extremely hard to stick to the diet. I messed up a few times. Plus, I had just gone grocery shopping right before I started the diet so I couldn’t let the food go to waste. But even with the mess ups, I do have to say that I felt better.
I am not really sure if it helped with the pain because I pulled a muscle in my lower back so I was in an extreme amount of pain, regardless. But I didn’t get any of my Endo migraines. I didn’t throw up at all. I had plenty of energy–my body was just unable to keep up with me because of my back.
I do have to say that I was very happy when the Endo bloat went away (as well as the Endo fog brain). So now I am just going to try to do my best to stick with the diet, especially during a particular two weeks out of the month. Next month I will be able to know for sure if it is working (as long as I don’t pull any more muscles).
And if anyone is wondering, here is what my daily meals have looked like (including my few mess-ups):
- Green Tea
- 1/2 cup of Egg Whites (Hungry Girl in a Mug Recipe)
- Vitamuffin Vitatop (available at Ralph’s, Vons & Target in the frozen foods section)
- Women’s One-A-Day Multi-Vitamin
- Fiberone Bar
- Healthful 10 Grain Bread (2 slices–I wasn’t going to let $5 bread go to waste)
- Low-Sodium Natural Jif Peanut Butter (2 tbsp)
- Welch’s Sugar Free Grape Jelly
- Strawberries & Fat-Free Cool Whip
- Fiberone Bar
- Chicken Breast or Tofu
- Brown Rice
Late PM Snack/Dessert:
- Vitamuffin Vitatop Banana Choco Chip with Fat Free Cool Whip
OK, so the Endo is back to kicking my butt. I am not on any kind of hormone therapy to regulate the high levels of Estrogen associated with Endometriosis. So when the Endo fog starts to roll into town, the only defense I currently have is Zoloft (for the PMDD) and my Physical Therapy exercises. But I can tell you that neither one helps when your breasts swell an entire cup size and you bloat up to a 3-4 month pregnancy belly. Last week, I looked like one of my friends who keeps posting her expanding pregnancy body through pictures on Facebook. But I am not growing a human inside of me. I am simply filling up with hormones and Endometrium tissue. The hormone therapies used to regulate this portion of the hellish cycle that mother nature has thrust upon me. But my body has decided that it wants to be unique. None of the current hormone therapies worked on me. So until modern medicine catches up with my “ha, ha you can’t catch me” form of Endometriosis, I’m pretty much screwed and left to figure things out on my own.
So last week, I was talking with one of my co-workers about the chaos going on inside of my body. She recommended a book for me called “Why do I still have Thyroid symptoms? When my lab tests are normal.” She found out that all of her issues stem from an allergy to wheat gluten. Well, I am not one to jump on the latest diet/fad bandwagon. A gluten-free diet isn’t for everyone and I told her as much. She said that the book mentioned Endometriosis and different diets that could help ease the pain and other symptoms. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at the book so I whipped out my kindle and searched the title. There is no current kindle version of this book so I decided to search “Endometriosis Diet” and I found an article for the kindle, “ENDOMETRIOSIS DIET: The Hidden Link to Control Pain and Hormones Without Any Side Effects” by Rita Pauline.
So basically, someone else has done the research for me on what I should be eating to help control my hormones and relieve the pain of Endometriosis. It couldn’t hurt to give it a read through. So here is what I found out from this article:
A Woman with Endometriosis must avoid the following:
- Dairy Products, like milk and cheese (they stimulate the production of Prostaglandins which worsen Endometriosis symptoms)
- Saturated Fats and Oils like coconut oil, palm oil, butter, margarine, lard, organ meats and fried foods. (These also stimulate the production of Prostaglandins).
- Wheat (The Phytic acid in wheat aggravates the symptoms of Endo)
- Modern Soy Products, like soy milk, soy based cheese, granola, pasta, imitation meat and other highly processed soy products (They are said to contain soybean toxins that could do more harm than good over time).
- Sugar in all forms (produces a more acidic environment within the body that can encourage the inflammatory pain of endometriosis)
- Caffeine (increases the production of estrogen)
- Alcohol (destroys Vitamin B in the Liver which helps filter blood of chemicals, hormones and other impurities. It is said that women with Endo already have a sluggish liver because of the disease so alcohol will just make it worse and must be cut out completely).
- Red Meat (stimulates production of Prostaglandins and estrogen)
- Refined Carbohydrates, like White bread, pasta, flour, pastry, cakes and chocolates (These deplete the body’s nutrients, damage blood vessel walls and are the primary cause of weight gain that lead to increased Endo symptoms).
- Additives and Preservatives found in processed, frozen or pre-packaged foods (because they are full of dangerous chemicals and ingredients that promote the growth of Prostaglandins)
So basically what this all means is that I need to take vitamins (Calcium, Vitamin E, the B Vitamins, Vitamin C, & Magnesium), eat foods high in Fiber (raspberries, apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, barley, brown rice, bran, popcorn, and oatmeal), White Meats like Chicken or Pork (or fish but I am so not a seafood fan), fruits & vegetables, and only drink water.
OK, so I will try it. What can it hurt?
I would say that Saturday was my first day trying the diet but I screwed that up with breakfast. I added cheese to my egg whites and milk to my tea. Then on Sunday I hurt my back and have been in pain ever since. So it is hard to tell if a change in my diet is helping my pain levels when I can’t even sit-up straight or walk without pain surging through my entire being (the good thing is that my back hurts so bad that I’m not even noticing my menstrual cramps). So I will have to get back to you on my experimentation with the Endo Diet.
“Come over to the Dark Side . . . We Have Cookies” ~my favorite magnet