When I was in college, I had lower back problems.
Which is kind of embarrassing when you’re only nineteen and everybody expects you to be strong and flexible and resilient.
But your body never lies to you.
I remember my low point. Literally and figuratively. It was the summer before junior year. Just another night at our house. One minute I was eating dinner with my family, the next I was incapacitated on the living room floor with horrible, shooting lumbar pains that felt like an electric shock.
The worst part was, my eighty year old grandfather had to run to the kitchen to fetch me an ice pack.
Probably a sign that I needed to make a change.
My mom, a personal trainer, suggested I start coming with her to the gym to stretch, strengthen my core muscles and improve my overall posture.
Ugh. Sounded like work to me. No thank you.
Instead, I opted for the deep tissue massage. Sixty bucks, sixty minutes, aromatherapy candles, relaxing music and a cute blonde with strong hands? Felt like the right choice to me.
And that was the problem. Treating the symptom always feels right. Treating the source always feels like work. It’s no wonder my back never healed.
At least, not until years later, when I started practicing yoga.
Maybe my mom was right. If we truly want to make change that sticks, we ought to focus on the solution that involves burning calories, not burning candles.
Are you treating your symptoms or your sources?
Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.