Loosening My Grip

Ah, tennis elbow—it has come to greet me again.

Typically, this is a right-arm issue for me. But last fall, I got the brilliant idea of learning a two-handed backhand because my one-hander just was too feeble. (This is probably because it hurt due to tendonitis on certain shots so subconsciously I was afraid to hit the ball too hard).

Plus, I do have that weird chicken-arm elbow backhand habit that sometimes got in the way of a good stroke.

I love my new two-hander. I get more power and pace. It positions me to turn my shoulders and follow through better, both of which are important ingredients for a solid groundstroke.

But.

My poor left forearm has no idea what is up. There it was, going along in a best supporting actress role for years, and now suddenly it’s being asked to step up to the table.

Enter: Lateral Epicondylitis.

In both elbows.

Hmmm.

I know how to treat this, though.

My 47 years has given me a few things other than a bum right knee and stressed out elbows. Tennis player, heal thyself. So, back to prescription doses of Aleve for several weeks. Ice three time a day. Exercises with my Thera-Bar. Acupuncture. Massage Therapy. It’s a load of fun.

And, I have to be a bit more careful in my other favorite activity—Bikram Yoga. I had another jolly idea recently—to do a 30-day Bikram Challenge. Thirty classes in 30 days in January. It was awesome. Since then, I have maintained my practice of at least three days a week.

But that, too, is challenging for the body. A lot of locking elbows. A lot of gripping hands together. A lot of stretching through the shoulder girdle. A lot of tightening triceps.

Plus, some days I like to do both—a 90-minute Bikram class and two hours of tennis.

That’s a lot of repetitive stress. Not for the psyche, but for the middle-aged body.

Wouldn't that be funny, if one of the things I do to heal my body actually makes it worse?

So I decided this morning that I would try going to yoga and be a little more easy about it. They say tennis elbow can come from gripping your tennis racquet too tight. So perhaps I don’t have to clench my grip quite so tight in yoga either.

Naveed, one of my teachers in Chicago said recently, “You can be disciplined on the inside but soft on the outside. It doesn’t have to be a military kind of discipline.”

I remember thinking, “Huh?!?”

And just then, he followed up with a comment directed to me, “Relax your face, Kellie. You just don't know easy, do you?”

Ha.

So today, I went in to practice thinking, I’m going to loosen my grip. I’m going to get to know Easy. Still keep my palms together, but a bit looser. A bit easier. A bit more relaxed.

And I did. In Pranayama. In Half Moon Pose. In Uktasana and Garuarasana. In the whole darn practice.

And as I did, I thought, this is a bit more fun this way. Not quite so intense. No pain in my elbows when I got to the floor series.

It’s kind of like life, isn’t it? The tighter the grip, the more pain you feel. The looser the grip, the the easier it is. Time to practice a little more non-attachment, I guess. Not just in tennis, and in yoga. But In everything.