On the Knottiness of Muscles


One of my highlights this weekend was getting a massage from a blind masseuse by the name of Mang Ben somewhere in the heart of Station 3.

I’m inordinately fond of massages, more so in the last few years when that iniquity of aging called lower back pain began to manifest itself.

(Due to a week’s worth of anatomy lessons, I can now confidently pinpoint the source of the pain as overstrained iliocostalis muscles in the lumbar region of my spine. Mang Ben didn’t need any of my newfangled words to get to the core of the matter however. Using the tactile sensitivity that the sight-deprived often develop, he simply pushed the bases of his thumbs in the relevant regions and was promptly rewarded by a muffled sound somewhere between a scream and a gargle.)

For an hour, muscular strains that had possibly accumulated over the last few years (from practicing ashtanga without any guidance—let this be a warning) were methodically pummeled out of my system. At the end of it, Mang Ben wryly told me to take it easy with the yoga, as even he had been taken aback by the knottiness of my sacrospinal muscles.

Para sa an’ba yung yoga na ‘yan? he asked me with his head cocked to one side (For what is this “yoga” anyway?). I paused, realizing that my stock answer of “enlightenment” had no ready translation in Cebuano, Ilonggo or Tagalog. After a moment, I said: Para laging panatag ang loob mo (It’s for making you feel at peace on the inside at all times). He considered my response briefly before replying: Baka panatag nga yung loob, pero masakit naman yung likod (You may be at peace on the inside, but then you’ve also got a painful backside).

All of which simply underscored what my teacher—an internationally renowned ashtanga yoga practitioner and instructor—had been telling me and my classmates all week: More practice is necessary.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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