Granny Yoga Heals Frozen Shoulder…

A year and a half ago I was afflicted with the mysterious condition known as frozen shoulder.  It does exactly what it sounds like. It freezes a shoulder to the degree you can’t raise your arm over your head. It is painful.  This condition is commonly (but not always), found in women who are entering menopause, however replacing their hormonal loss doesn’t seem to help. Once it’s got you, it’s got you.

My doctor sadly shakes her head and says to me, “I know this is hard to take, but its going to take two years to recover.”

What! I don’t believe her. I go online and see some places where it takes three years. I also meet someone who had it for three years. Some others were quicker, a few had it in one shoulder and then once they finished that shoulder it went to the other, another common occurrence. The whole time I am thinking, wait a second here, I am no wimp, I dance swing and tango every week. This isn’t going to be me.

Then I start the process. The process that becomes familiar to every person who gets this. You start the therapies, one by one, with hope, and optimism, slowly melting to absolute pessimism. I go through physiotherapists, acupunturists, massage therapists, Bowen Therapy experts, naturopathics, craniosacral people, ostepathy, infra red therapy, on and on. I thank the lord that Jim has a great benefits plan, but nothing is working and I have spent $1000 dollars of my own money beyond the benefits plan. And these therapies cost me more than money, they take a great deal of time. Time I don’t want to give up.

I interject all these therapies with both prescribed exercises at home and with my own exercises. Some days I think it’s working and other days nada. I am thankful it is my left shoulder and not my right, being right-handed. I know I am completely at risk with my profession as a writer by being on the confounding computer so much. I have to slow down and take long rests from the computer. I get some help from volunteers I can delegate to, and I waste more time and money trying both voice-to-text software and handwriting recognition software. Nothing suffices. I have to slow down and listen to the body. It wants a break. It wants gentle unrepetitive, un computer-like movement.

Some people start to say swimming works, others say yoga. Of course, the health plan doesn’t cover these (which I have always thought of as very short-sighted towards health). Though I love swimming, I can no longer stand getting into cold pools, especially in a cold climate (they say they are heated but it’s never enough). The only swimming I ever do now is in Mexico.  Having done yoga on and off for years I know that there is a variety to choose from but with the shoulder, my downward facing dog is going to look like a downward falling three-legged dog.

I try a course given by Kyra, a woman who teaches what she calls Yoga Therapy. The participants in this class have their own afflictions which make my frozen shoulder look like Tai Chi in the park.  Comparatively speaking, I can consider myself lucky.  There are many people struggling through many kinds of physical challenges and recoveries and my heart goes out to them. I am tickled with Yoga Therapy but after the four sessions I get in on, Kyra is going away for several months. Now what?

With little progress, less money, and less energy, I feel like a shut in and get into a mental funk that yo-yos until I spot an ad in the Spring Guide for our local rec centre. Yoga Over 50. It promises gentle yoga two days a week in the a.m. and the drop-in cost is $1… wait, am I seeing that right. One dollar!  As it turns out, it is $1 for over 60 and $2.50 for over 50. Didn’t I just turn 50?  Well then I guess I can just squeak in. I try it.

Thus starts my dedication to a very unexpected and amazing group that I have come to call Granny Yoga.  I call it this because the women (although a few men come and go), are twenty years my senior.  The one who leads the exercises is Nan. She is 86. We can’t properly call her a leader since she is not trained in Yoga, she just took over for Lilo, the original teacher, who is now well into her 90’s and no longer able to come to class, though a number of the grannies still visit her at home. I get the idea it is her mind more than her body that took Lilo out of the picture. However, you perhaps get what I’m thinking here. Is this a fountain of youth class or what. Well, perhaps, though true Yoga aficionados have been saying this for years haven’t they.

Nan, who has a wonderfully loud Scottish brogue, is also a little deaf and that’s why she talks loudly and everyone can hear her directions clearly. And I’m thinking how wonderful a world is it when you can take Yoga instructions in a Scottish accent from a feisty octogenarian.

The Yoga is perfectly gentle for my injured shoulder. Enough to stretch it but not too much, meanwhile the rest of the body is really enjoying getting its fair share of movement, and I realize that I used to do this a lot, and got out of it somehow. My favourite exercises are for the areas we forget, like the eyes (I later find out Paul McCartney is all over Yoga eye exercises See here). Your whole body needs movement and benefits from a regime. After all, all of it is going to have to get you through this life. All around the room I have a testament to this. But these grannies dish up Yoga class their style. There is a walk and sing segment and they stop in the middle for “comments” better known as yack.

During the comment time, we hear from Rebel Granny who is making us aware of the evils of the new proposal to let more oil tankers into our harbour that destroy the Indian Arm and the bay area (see petition here).  There is Canucks Granny who reminds us to cheer on our boys on the ice trying fo the Stanley Cup (sorry boys). There is the Singing Grannies who lead us in a chorus of “When the Saints Come Marching In.” There is Nature Granny who tells us about the birds and flowers to watch for, “Doesn’t our parks board do a great job!”

There is also Eastern European Granny who talks about her grandkids and all the Easter eggs they painted, over 100. And of course there was the Easter egg hunt itself. “They found one from last year,” she tells us.  She is always the one to know the holidays and bring in treats. To instill on me the importance of coming regularly to Yoga she tells me, “If I miss one day, I am stiff.”

Then a familiar male face comes in, a man I know. It is Micheal who I met years ago at Toastmasters and we had bonded as fellow writers.  Michael had written a fabulous memoir of his time in India he spent working with Mother Theresa.

“Did you practice Yoga in India?” I ask him.

“Heavens, no,” he says, “I could never do that.” I’m not sure if that was because they were too good or it was too authentic, but I do know that Michael likes to come to yoga to socialize with the gals.

I am starting to become self-conscious in this class. They start to call me the purple lady because I continually come in my favourite purple exercise suit, but that’s not why.  I know they are all wondering why “the kid” (I’m only 50), is coming to this class during the day.  So I take a chance and on the next comment time and decide to pipe up. I try to explain that I am in menopause and experiencing the phenomenon of a frozen shoulder and ask if any of them have had it. I get interrupted early with, “Speak up dear, we can’t hear you.”

“What’s she saying?”

“She says she’s going through menopause!” Nan’s buddy yells loudly into her ear and across the room and down the hall. “She says she has a frozen shoulder!”

“Oooh.”

During this comment session none of them seem familiar with my condition, but afterward a few of them, including Nan, comes up to me with stories of others and what they did.

Four weeks after I have told them why I am there, my arm starts to unlock by itself, so after a year and a half I can raise my arm over my head. You can’t imagine how nice that feels.  It’s not perfectly okay yet, but it is really a relief to see great progress

I start to believe that I owe a lot of it to Granny Yoga, and perhaps some diet shifts I made as well, but mostly Yoga. I am now a Yoga believer in a way I never have been before. Yoga will keep me young.  I decide to drop into another yoga class on the weekend where I can actually practice a downward facing dog. So I do and it’s nice and certainly more challenging, but they don’t give me eye exercises. And, even if they did, there ain’t no way I am giving up my Granny Yoga classes.

For more writing and teaching by Kathrin Lake go to kathrinlake.com or Vancouver School of Writing.com

Try this Video for further Yoga inspiration.  Thanks to Matt:

YOGA HELPS 47  YEAR OLD MAN WALK UNASSISTED AGAIN – CLICK PHOTO FOR VIDEO LINK

 

FINALLY, FINALLY I have the VIDEO of Lilo Pederman – the original instructor –  showing her Yoga routine!

(Sorry for the poor quality)

avideoofliloperderman

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19 thoughts on “Granny Yoga Heals Frozen Shoulder…

  1. Alison Sibbers says:

    It’s very hopeful reading about your experience with yoga and frozen shoulder. I was diagnosed with it two days ago and am in so much pain and exhausted from the intense pain. Where can I find the exercised to do for yoga for frozen shoulder? Thank you so much

    • kathrinlake says:

      This class is in Vancouver BC at the West End Community Centre. But I know that there are other Yoga over 50 classes. Perhaps Google that. The other thing is puttering around a swimming pool. Just gentle tasks to keep it/you mobile. There are other changes I made diet-wise that I think had a positive influence, but for pain you need to just use anti-imflammatories and drugs like Advil. Lay off the computer as much as you can and no more htan 20-30 minutes a time. Sometimes a tennis elbow brace helps. Not uncommon for you to have tennis elbow with this condition and not know it.

  2. ikkyu says:

    i’m 40 and a Type 1 diabetic since age 8. my left shoulder has been frozen for almost 4 years now, and the right one is starting to freeze (painful stage – the left is frozen & hasn’t hurt for years). i’m not overweight, i don’t have too many other health issues, but i don’t exercise and my job involves sitting and, yes, computers… i’m very interested in your experience, especially as i can’t afford to swim. can you recommend any books, or do you think i need to actually find some grannies? 🙂

    • kathrinlake says:

      I actually found the one ebook on this duplications of what was already online mostly. FS is mysterious and different for everyone, but what I do know and have done is kept mobile and I know this prevents me from having the other shoulder. Movement is very important. Computers suck for this and am learning ways to spend less time there. Google Yoga for seniors or ways you may be able to swim that are less costly. I also learned to mouse with both hands.

  3. Joanne Stone says:

    I did not realize that Yoga could help a frozen shoulder. What awesome news. I had 2 frozen shoulder’s, one was cured after 4 sessions with my chiropractor who specializes in frozen shoulder. She has been teaching other chiropractors to do the same and since then has had patients from all over Ontario visiting her to help her out. My second shoulder is about 85% there and it is now 2 years. I am now looking forward to joining that yoga class in a couple of weeks.

    • Lisa Dawn says:

      Help! I have frozen shoulder. Can you give the contact info for the chiropractor that specializes in this problem?

  4. kathrinlake says:

    Good for your Chiropractor! I don’t know what she does but some of the ways are extrememly painful and a forcing that many others say is not good in the long run. Also, to everyone looking for the Yoga cure, this is as much about prevention than cure, Also,
    REMEMBER, THERE IS YOGA AND THERE IS YOGA. I will post a link to a video as soon as I can that has the original Granny Yoga teacher, doing her stuff (if I have permission). If I can’t get permission to share it, I will give people a private link if they email me, or leave a comment of where I can email them.

    • Cat Slavin says:

      I am very interested in the granny yoga link you mention. I have been suffering through bouts FS for 4 years now . . . trying this and trying that. Keeping what works and tossing out what doesn’t work . . . . but would REALLY appreciate something solid I can do.

  5. yoga says:

    I am glad I came across your site. I really enjoy gaining knowledge everyday and your site did just that. Thank you for the post.

  6. Matinia says:

    I am from norway, and i have frozen shoulder on my left arm. I have it checked but my doctor said their is no treatment. I am glad that i came across to this forum but my question is, is there any granny yoga in norway if none, what option do i have what was the name of the audio book? I am very frustrated of what happened to my arm. I am on sick leave because of this. I had tried cortison but it not work neither physiotherapy.

    • kathrinlake says:

      Hello Norway,
      I am trying to get a video up of the original woman going through her routine, not great quality as it is but it may be helpful to others. She is 94 now. Lois Pedersen is her name I believe. I will send a message out if I get it up. But there is a tricky conversion with it.
      The point is any regular gentle exercise should unlock it over time. The key point is to do exercise that works the whole body and do what you can with the shoulder for now. Keep challenging yourself.
      Kathrin

      • Matinia says:

        Thank you kathrin. I am so waiting for this. I was thinking that you have not it yet..i for now has both shoulders. The left side was on its way healing (gradually though)i guess, i hope so…
        Now my right is already commited to join my left….its terrifying for me..its just like my whole stops. Being not to be able to do anything but thinking how long for i have yo suffer.?..it depresses me even worst tsking these drugs to ease the pain, coz its not really of any help at all and its like i am using a cheat, cheating myself.i do look in you tube too for anything helpful..but without progress…as you said physiotherapy is not working and so the others, osteophaty, bowen, accupuncture but nothing works…but my hopes are great and i am and optimist. I miss my life, my work, dressing up, shower without help, itching my back all these little things that are actually very much a part of our daily routine…my god! …i am so tired of sitting home…i want to work, work, work….do im thankful that there is somebody like you, having the energy to do this and connect with people like me…thank you very much…
        Now i am eager to watch the video..
        my best regards to you,
        Matinia from Norway

  7. Kathy Welter says:

    Awesome and I wanted to share, after 3 sessions with my acupuncturist, Anna Hwang, Seoul Oriental Clinic, I no longer fear my shoulder. it’s improving and the pain itself is almost gone. I too am a writer, and the computer takes my focus, but resting and using the exercises she gave me, really keep it mobile and healing. Long car rides in the summer are not good either, probably nothing is…mine got a little worse again after a trip to 100 Mile House and back, (10 hours) and now feeling better this week.
    Exercise, movement, and I also used White Flower topically, you can get this in China Town for very reasonable prices, you will smell like Wintergreen, but it brings stimulation and blood flow to the area. That’s the issue, the tendons are strained and they don’t get a lot of blood flow…so acupuncture really helps bring blood flow into the area. The more you don’t move it, the more the lack of blood, and longer time for healing…

    And the very best thing I found was soaking my shoulder in a deep bath with Epsom Salts, it almost removed the pain completely.

    I’ve added the link to Kathrin’s article here, on my blog too, because I just don’t think we get enough real information and help and this process is encouraging and helpful! Wishing you all the best.

    • Cat says:

      I’ve had the same experience after 3 sessions with an acupuncturist! Shoulder, neck, back & hip pain all but gone!!! Why did I wait so long?

      Thanks for the tip about White Flower cream . . . I’ll check it out!

  8. Daun Scipione says:

    Thank you!! I am so grateful to find this site. Told i have frozen shoulder about a month ago, going to physical therapy, but yoga seems to help greatly. I also have done yoga on and off for years. Your story gives me hope. I look forward to the video!!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    • Kathrin Lake says:

      Great news Daun! – Please subscribe to this blog and check back here within 2 weeks – if I can get the permission I mean to put the original granny yoga video – one hour class up here.

  9. Kathrin Lake says:

    BTW – I am still going to Yoga and my arm is 100% healed and it keeps the rest of me in better shape too and prevents the other shoulder from thinking it can do the same thing. Gentle, regular movement and stretch is the key.

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