Let your yoga practice do it’s magic.
The body is an amazing construction. I’m always surprised with how well it actually heals itself, as long as you take care of it and listen to it. If we ignore the signals the body sends out when something is not right, we probably end up injured and frustrated.
Injuries are the body’s way of saying “stop, this is too much”. Like in any physical activity, injuries do happen in yoga. Just like when you play football, rock climb, surf or go horseback riding, there is always a risk for injuries. Even in a yoga practice where the movements are more or less controlled, you can hurt yourself.
One of my teachers told me that pain is the best teacher, and I believe she is right. Some people, including me, can receive the same instructions several times when it comes to avoiding injuries, without paying enough attention. It’s not until you start to feel that pinching and sharp pain that you actually listen and take a step back. One of the worst things you can do when you injure yourself is to rest completely. The pain will most likely go away but when you start to move your body again the risk for the pain to come back is pretty big.
I injured my knee last year and took it very easy for a few months. I lost a lot of strength and felt weaker than usual, but the pain slowly went away and I started building up my practice again. Unfortunately, the lack of muscles around my knee eventually led to even more pinching pain. It was frustrating and I started to question why I even do this practice. I realized that I needed some guidance after almost 6 months of self practice in Costa Rica. When I got back to Sweden I started going to an experienced teacher again.
She made me understand the importance of keeping up the practice and working on getting even stronger when you have an injury. Of course you shouldn’t push where it hurts, but there is so much you can do to speed up the healing process. I worked a lot on strengthening my legs and found muscles on my body I had neglected for a long time. I became more aware of my breathing and how my whole body is connected from the shoulders, through the back and all the way down to my feet. I could feel my knee pain everyday for months, but I didn’t push it, I just worked on getting stronger to get the pressure off the knee joint.
The primary series of Ashtanga Yoga is called Yoga Chikitsa, which means yoga therapy. The sequence is designed to improve your health, prevent sickness and heal you from different types of injuries. The postures are detoxing and healing if you do them correctly with proper breathing. The practice has healed me several times and keeps on healing me, both physically and mentally.
Right now I am in Mysore, India and studying with my teacher Sharath Jois. When I first arrived I could still feel my knee pain but I surrendered to the practice and let it do it’s magic. With all that basic work and more attention on the breathing the pain abandoned my body. It’s an amazing feeling when a pain you have had for so long disappears, you can’t feel anything but grateful to the whole system.
I believe in this practice, as long as you listen to your body and take a step back when needed you can keep on practicing. Because in the end it’s not about which postures we are doing, it’s the fact that we get on our mats every day and do our practice that really matters. Injured or not, do the best you can, give your body time to heal and let it be your teacher.
Your body is an amazing construction; you just have to learn how to listen to it.