Monday, January 23, 2012

Wounded Dog

These past few weeks have been humbling.  I was in a Jonny class ("Jonny" being a synonym for "butt-kicking") and per his instruction was attempting "to float my plank". That essentially means you launch yourself into the air from a plank position so nothing is touching the ground (I know, who does that?!?!). Silly me, I tried over and over, each time feeling the impact of landing on my shoulders as my hands and toes touched down. Went home after class only to wake up that night with shooting pains. I had pulled something internally that connected from deep at the base of my neck, across my collarbone,  all the way to my right armpit/shoulder/bicep.

Yoga is often touted as a cure-all. While I do believe its benefits are immense, it is still physical activity. Sometimes we push ourselves just a bit harder than we should and don't know until it is too late. Almost every yogi I know has at some point had some sort of injury or soreness - if not from yoga than at least amplified by yoga. But the benefits (both mentally and physically) make a few battle scars totally worth it.

Since that class, I haven't been up to par. I laid off yoga for a few days after it happened and it started feeling better. So I went and after the break, yoga felt so good I really dove in. Mistake. The next day I couldn't even move my arm - it had seized up. I took a few more days off. This time when I couldn't stand it anymore I went to a class but with the intention to really listen to my body. I modified modified modified. Dropped a knee for support, put all weight into my left hand in down dog, even cut out all pushups or Chaturungas. And my shoulder, although still sore and achy, didn't seem worse. It actually felt a little better. I continued going just every 2 or 3 days (as opposed to once or twice a day) using this mindset as my guide.

And it sucked. I am about to admit something very un-yogi-like: I like competing with myself in yoga. I like trying new things, or sticking something I couldn't the day before. Instead of enjoying the fact I was in a yoga class at all, I began to resent it. I got very jealous at everyone kicking up into handstands while I took shoulderstand.  Mentally I had a hard time with dropping a knee in side plank instead of reaching for the bind. I hated that the left and right sides of my flows were completely different. Also, I was so worried about re-hurting my shoulder that my mind never got to a "yoga" state. I stopped having those amazing classes where you walk out all euphoric. Instead it felt like work.

That is, until yesterday. Last night, I hit up one of my favorite teacher's classes. Something about the familiarity of her voice began to open that place in my head that had shut down two weeks ago. I stopped worrying about my shoulder and trusted my body to do what it needed to to protect it. I concentrated on each posture as an island - not worrying what came before or what was coming next. Not comparing it to the other side. I worked with what I had, and reconnected with the true lessons in yoga. It wasn't about the bind. It was about breathing and moving. Feeling. It had taken two weeks before I could truly step back and observe my brain, to recognize that competitive mindset I hadn't even realized I had fallen into. I walked out of that class with my endorphins kicking like the good old days.

Do I miss Jonny's classes? Heck yeah. But I also have a new appreciation for making the most of my present situation. For probably the next month, this is my new reality. I will do the yoga my body needs right now, not the yoga my competitive mind wants. I will modify. I will hold back. And I will heal.

I am right where I am supposed to be.

1 comment:

  1. Love this! Your Sunday teacher is just great!