Teaching Yoga to My Grandmother

Recently, my 79-year old grandmother has been suffering from severe back pain caused by a muscle spasm. She's stubborn and waited too long to go to the doctor to get any pain medications and suffered daily for weeks. So, before her last doctor's visit, I went to visit her to see what we could do with some Thai massage and yoga. 

 I've never seen her in so much pain. It only took one minor movement for her eyes to bulge out of her head and yelp. So, there was no way I was going to be able to do any Thai massage as she wouldn't move from the couch into the massage chair at all and wouldn't lay on her stomach. Did I mention my grandmother is stubborn? I was able to at least have her lean forward and massage her back haphazardly and then lay on her back on the couch and bring one knee into her chest at time.
 
I also taught her how to extend her exhale, which would help calm her down and go to sleep. It's often easier for those new to breathing exercises to exhale through pursed lips instead of their nose, so I asked her to do that. Of course, no one knows what the hell "pursed lips" means, so I said "kissy face lips" after a student in one my classes called it that. Her response, "I am not in the mood for kissing." So, she inhaled through her nose and exhaled through her mouth with puffed up cheeks, a cross between a two-year old not getting their way and a sigh. 
 
So, after a weekend of learning more about teaching individuals ages 55 to 105, I stopped by grandma's again. I heard that she'd fallen twice since I last saw her and I was worried about her. The pain medications just took the spasm away, but she was still having issues. She said she feels like she can't control her muscles and her knees are giving out. I came over wanting to work on helping her strengthen her knees and legs and show her how to get up and down from the couch to help build that strength. But she was having none of it. She leaned over and said, "I just want a pill." Of course! That's my grandma for you. One of the real issues here is that my grandmother lives in a studio apartment and sits on the couch most of the day watching political shows and dramas and also sleeps on that same couch. She's done this for years. But there's no arguing with her about this. She claims she gets up plenty of times to go to the bathroom and watch the dishes. There is no convincing her otherwise. And her advice, "Don't get old."
 
Ultimately, I think she is also suffering from a nutrition deficiency because she has no appetite, has suffered from unexplained tremors for years and now having issues with her muscles. So, she is going to get her wish after all...in the form of a digestive enzyme.

Alyssa Pfennig