This year, for the first time, I injured myself. Before this, I had already been dealing with sciatica for several months, and though it healed, I’ve had to learn to take more care of my fragile back.
Well, 10 days ago, I hurt myself again. As a daily yoga practitioner, this has been extremely tough and frustrating. Still, one of the best things yoga has taught me is that you can find good in every challenge life throws your way. So, what have I learnt from this yoga injury?
1. Patience And Self-Compassion
As hard as it was, I had to acknowledge my injury, the pain I was feeling, and the fact that I wasn’t going to be doing asanas for a while. I’m really not used to saying the words “I can't.” I’m the type of person who keeps trying new things, working and overcoming my weaknesses as much as I can.
Patience is also not my strong suit; I love getting things done. Now, however, I have to let go of the will to DO something to heal. There is no healing faster; there is just giving it time, and resting.
So, now has become a time to learn how to accept my limitations and take a break. It is also time to take care of myself, to be gentle and kind, and to let my body heal. This attitude of compassion and patience is an attitude I easily have towards others, but less naturally towards myself. What a great habit to take!
2. Yoga Is More Than Just Asana
In this time of rest, I have to focus my mind to redirect my energy somewhere else. This time off enables me to practice yoga differently—more time for meditation, Pranayama, and still a lot of mindfulness, all applied in my everyday life!
I also use this asana-free time to train and learn, mainly online, and to read books and study.
3. Loved Ones And Friends Are Invaluable
After a long day, when my sciatica really hurts, I have to rely on my husband to ease and relieve the pain (with a tennis ball). I am so grateful for these five minutes each day when I ask for help and surrender myself unto his hands.
Since the beginning of my injury, I have also seen countless friends and students caring about me, and it really is heartwarming!
Every single improvement is a delight. I have stopped taking my body for granted, and now I feel really grateful for everything I can do.
I also have faith that my body will heal, and that I will recover, even if I have to be even more careful with myself from then on. I know that my asana practice will also evolve, and include a bigger awareness of when and how to push myself, and of when to back off and protect myself.
5. Teaching Evolves
Even though my personal practice has been impacted by my injury, my biggest concern was towards my teaching. How do I teach Vinyasa if I can't demonstrate at all?
Well, it has been very instructive! This experience has made me improve my verbal cues, as I have to be more precise and really focus on the essentials to make sure my students understand me. This is a very good practice for me, and I am grateful it enables me to evolve.
Not demonstrating has also freed a lot of my attention during classes to observe my students more and to adjust them (carefully) whenever necessary.
Furthermore, this downtime has been such a great occasion for creative teaching! I have been trained for Antastha Yoga and have taken this opportunity to teach parts of my classes with a blindfold.
It’s a really nice experience for students to be able to explore their asanas without looking. It teaches them to let go of how an asana is supposed to look like, and instead get in touch with how the asana feels and how they feel while holding it.
6. Physical Self-Knowledge Matters
Having learned a lot about injuries as a trained teacher, I am always very careful about teaching a safe practice, giving the appropriate options and modifications for my students’ bodies, fitness levels, and specific conditions.
Experiencing injury myself, however, has given me a different insight into how to modify and adapt my teaching to these particular body limitations. It has also encouraged me to learn more about my body and to deepen and expand my anatomical knowledge!
So, I am ready for more time for self-care and gentle teaching, while my body takes all the time it needs to feel and perform better! How do YOU deal with injuries in your practice? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Image Credit / Yogi: Claire Lalande