Today was a nice reunion in my Saturday morning class. These are all of my original male students who have been studying with me since 2004. What is remarkable is not the fact that I have been teaching for 12 years, but the fact that these men have been regulars for a large duration of that time.
Dr. Malcolm Ing, seen in the black shirt to my right in the photo (I’m the guy with the red tank top), has an impressive resume. He graduated from Yale Medical School and is a pediatric ophthalmologist. He’s well into his 80s and surfs longboard as well. He is a great model of what it looks like to age well.
Howard Wiig, the man to his right, works with the State of Hawai’i on alternative energy solutions. He is a stalwart in my class and comes rain or shine when he is not traveling extensively for his work. He is an avid runner and works out far more than I do. He is well into his 70s. Another great model of aging well.
Joe Teipel to my left in the grey shirt was an auctioneer for many years. I saw him recently on A&E’s Storage Wars when they came to Kailua. He is now pursuing other career interests in real estate. He is also an avid surfer and has been a part of the Hawai’i surfing community from the early days. He has a golden voice and often gives speeches for money. He has a great cameo in the movie “North Shore” which came out in the 80s. He of course was the announcer of the big surf competition. I think Joe is in his 60s, but reminds me of someone in his 30s.
Not to knock the ladies, but yoga nowadays seems to be dominated by young, lithe, 20 something women who have been doing yoga for only a few years. When I see my male students in class with over a decade of yoga experience, and they keep coming back week after week, it gives me hope that there is also a bright future for yoga being more open to men as a means of relieving stress and staying healthy as they age. With these guys, I get the same feelings of healthy camaraderie I felt was a youngster in my grandfather’s barbershop.
Warning! I will be talking about urine and man parts in this entry. About two and a half years ago, I was in constant agony. I could not properly empty my bladder when urinating. Asana was painful, and I had difficulty doing certain poses that put pressure on my abdomen. I can remember the final straw that made me see a doctor was when I was taking a workshop with a senior teacher. As I had to use the bathroom, I did not want to sprint out of class in order to cling to every thread of teaching. The pose was Parivritta Parsvakonasana. Next thing you know, I wet myself.
Within the week I was in my doctors office and within the next two weeks I was on the operating table. I had a condition know as Benign Hyperplasia of the Prostate (BHP). In my case, the prostate, which is donut shaped, was bulging on one side and acting as a flap which would not let any urine through when I was trying to use the bathroom. I constantly had the urge to use the restroom without being able to empty my bladder. My doctor asked me to provide a urine sample and just a few drops came out. He ordered an ultrasound. The nurse came back with a large pitcher about the size of a wine bottle. “This is how much urine you have retained in your bladder that you can’t empty,” she said. The doctor then scoped me through the urethra. “Therein lies the problem, he said after showing me the said flap my prostate was forming. “You need surgery right away.” Very scary words to a 41-year-old healthy man who has a family history of prostate cancer.
I had a procedure called a TURP, or transurethral resection of the prostate. You can click on the link for all the gory details. The short of it is that they rotor rooter your urethra to clear the blockage from the prostate, or as my doctor colorfully put it “you’ll be able to write your name in the snow again.”
I could not do any asana one month post surgery. It was painful. My mentoring teacher Ray gave me the simple instruction to do Baddha Konasana as often as I could, coupled with Supta Padangushtana I and II. He also advised rope sirsasana with baddha konasana as I healed more. I still do these asanas as often as I can in my home practice.
Today I had my two year doctor visit since surgery. My doctor was surprised that I did not take any medication at all. My PSA count, which is the trigger for prostate cancer, is markedly lower. I evacuate urine like a race horse and was able to provide a good sample. No pain or blood in my urine. My doctor said “you can graduate and not return unless there are further complications.” That is as close to a “clean bill of health” as you can get. Asana heals profoundly.