the story of Sam…12-18-23

Must’ve been 2007 when I first spent some deeply personal moments with Sam, who gave me permission to write this story.  A student in my roll and release workshop, we connected at Deep, now Yoga Shala.  We had already become acquainted on the dance floor.  He took to the rolling quickly, a super-kinesthetic learner.  Over the years we came to know each other through dance and he spoke of his gratitude for this first formal exposure to rolling.  Finally, a reliable skill to lean into after years of being plagued with various body challenges.

Sam became what I lovingly call a band-aid patient. I use this designation with a heart full of understanding.  A band aid patient makes recurring appointments whenever something arises that rolling out tight fascia does not alleviate.  Meticulous notes over many years document the all too common fact that some bodies flare in wildly different regions over time.  For Sam, the notes went way back: an episode in right neck then by and by in right hip. Another time left calf, then later left shoulder. Then it was left heel.  He’d always come for a single visit to treat the acute situation and then muddle through on his own until it resolved.

One thread tied all his flare ups together. From the get go I was totally on to Sam’s profound lack of core strength, more pronounced on the right.  In each one shot appointment, I’d do my darnedest to educate and encourage consistent follow up with one simple strength exercise.  But if your heel hurts and massaging the calf gives you temporary relief…well, many have a hard time buying that anything more is needed.

Sometimes I call rolling the gateway drug of body care.  Because it feels so good.  And it gets people hooked on the wide world of self-care.  But if we’re in this for the long run,  if we want to stay active AND feel good til the end, we eventually learn that fascia release is a temporary fix.  Definitely needed prior to embarking on next level wellness, but not a stand alone healing modality.  Because habitual holding patterns are ingrained and fascia release rarely offers lasting results.  Darn it!

Back to Sam.  Most recently he comes in with six months of unrelenting right foot pain and he has decided it’s time to move beyond the band aid.  It takes three visits in a row for us to totally dial in exercises needed to address fascial tightness in various places (not just foot!) AND the profound long term core weakness.  Which amounts to 30 minutes of mat homework every other day.  But this was an incredibly motivated human.  Pain will do that!  Sam took it next level with gusto completing two weeks of exercise for one hour daily.  At the end of that time foot pain was noticeably on the decrease.

I want you to grok something vital.  We deliberately kept direct work to the right foot out of the program.  I put my eggs in a basket I’d been holding for him since that first 2016 visit.  He was such a quick learner, so motivated, so attuned.  I was pretty sure that all the roads to the various peripheral issues led back to the core weakness.  Is the foot pain 100% gone?  No, not yet.  But we’re hopeful.  Does Sam totally feel the weight bearing connection between the depths of his core and his feet? Absolutely.  Maybe for the very first time ever.  Bottom line: he’s totally functional and doing the activities he loves once again.

After three visits, I generally send people out in the world with recommendations for ongoing support.  The Friday morning Release & Realign class keeps us inspired about home self-care while we practice in community.  I refer out and really encourage folks to see a massage therapist once a month.  And, of course, I’m right here for “tune ups” as needed.  All this keeps us motivated as we consistently self care.

But maybe there is something else to offer.  I did something with Sam I’d never done before. After those 3 visits, Sam came in once a week for six weeks for an hour of what I guess you might call personal training.  We worked out together on my studio floor.  According to Sam, it made a huge difference.  The combination of verbal cuing I was able to offer, the experience of changing it up and being creative, the opportunity to witness me in motion…all this gave him the fluidity and ease and efficiency at home needed to make his own practice second nature.  And now he’s able to spend way less time than during that initial push.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Sam.  Because this is not my first rodeo.  How we want the easy fix.  How we’d rather not delve into underlying core issues.  How our own healing ends up at list bottom. How we’d rather someone else fix us.  How pain has to be intense before we dig up motivation.  Go back and read this list again substituting emotional for physical difficulties.  Body, heart, mind…totally entwined.  And the encouraging news is that no matter where we step on to the healing path, it’s all inclusive.  Somehow beginning with the body makes organic sense because (stealing a popular book title) the body keeps the score.

So if you’re ready to step in, I’m here to do that with you.  Come to the Open House at my studio January 6 and get a feel for where and how that might happen.  Come to Yoga Shala in January and learn some basics.  Or justcall me.  I’m here for you.


P.S.  All classes on hold until January EXCEPT Release & Realign….not missing even one single Friday.  January calendar is up.

P.S.S.  And Sam (name changed), thank you so much for allowing me to tell your story.  There is something about a personal story that fosters such intimate insight. 🙏🏼