What if one day, all of a sudden, you couldn’t practice yoga anymore? What if the thing that you found to keep your body feeling well and your mind sound was unavailable to you, just like that?
If it happened to me, it can happen to you.
I was set up for success. I seemingly had all the components for safety and understanding of the mechanical part of yoga, or at least in magnitudes more than the average yogi. I have practiced yoga for over 13 years. My consistency of the practice had gradually unfolded to an almost daily attendance at my local studio. The most recent years were filled with countless books read, articles studied, workshops attended and hours and hours of deep discussion on the topic of yoga. On top of all of that, I have been a Physical Therapist for over 16 years and have developed an extremely deep understanding of the human body and how it works, knowing with ease the “why” when the body is not working quite right. I have treated, trained and counseled hundreds of yoga practitioners on how to recover from yoga injuries, how to modify their practices when they have certain weaknesses, and how to prevent further injuries.
My body was seemingly set up for yoga success, too. I had that long, lean and flexible body type that made it easy to get into most poses. And it felt good to be in them. I knew how to distinguish a “good stretch” from a “good burn” from a “hurt pain” and never pushed myself too far. I practiced yoga with utter compassion for this miraculous vessel of a body that gets me around this beautiful world and each day offered gratitude to all it does for me. I had no underlying injuries, no arthritis, no bony abnormalities. I ate well, kept hydrated, meditated daily, and took my vitamins. Being in the field of wellness, I had so much respect for the body and felt an unwavering commitment to care for mine and to inspire others to do the same. I fully lived that life.
My practice evolved over time as I implemented, with dedication and seriousness, any advice I gathered along the way. I was at a place where I was mindfully tweaking alignment, being aware of any competitive desire to push too hard, making my practice my own by not comparing myself to others, noticing with precision all of the details of what is happening in the body, moment by moment. I sincerely followed my favorite teacher’s encouragement on the path of the mindful practice. He encouraged presence. And I was there that day, fully present.
And then, a pop.
A plethora of detail of the exact moment I injured my self is still rich and full in my mind. I remember the exact location of my body when I heard the pop. I know what muscles were engaged at that moment because I mindfully engaged them. I know what sequence I had gone through to get to that exact moment because I carefully unfolded the pose bit by bit. I had been in that pose hundreds of times before and experienced many different variations of that pose. I did not have any warning leading up to the injury. No pain. No pulling. I had even done a variation of the same pose earlier in that same class and it was fine.
This was just another Sunday, a day mixed amongst an array of normal days, at a class I have been to many times before, with a teacher whose style I’d practically mastered. There was nothing unusual about that pose, that day, my body, or my mind.
And I still got injured. With all that I know and all the intentions that I brought to my mat, I still got injured.
As I dissect that day in my mind, with my friends and with many medical colleagues, I’ve continued to learn more and more about my actual injury. I quickly learned that I had torn my hip labrum in a way that will never be the same (more on those details in a future post). Not only concerned about my long term outcomes (which are not exactly rainbows and unicorns), I began to question how I was practicing yoga. The question that continued to circulate in my my mind was “How did this happen?”
Through a deep and somewhat treacherous examination of the emotional, spiritual, physical, scientific, theoretical and psychological layers of this experience, there is much that I have uncovered. Much of which I will share in future posts. The layers are deep and profound and I wish I could share them all instantly, but they will be unveiled with time.
Caught up in blind faith in the practice and whole hearted devotion to the ancient ways, I found myself ignoring basic truths about the body that I know with confidence from my years as a PT. This understanding of the body is something that both yoga practioners and teachers will benefit from mastering. There is a foundation that will keep one from injury and keep one on the yogic path. I’m committed to sharing this knowledge. If we want the practice of yoga to thrive and we want to prevent people from dropping out of the practice, these concepts must be embraced.
As I currently recover from my labrum surgery, my outcome is still unknown. I would do anything to go back in time, with this new awareness, and practice in a way that ensures a much lesser chance of injury. But even if I don’t regain full function, I hope to prevent others from making the same mistakes I have made.
Join me on this journey. Open your eyes, your mind, and your heart. Be dedicated to the practice in a way that keeps you in it throughout this lifetime.
~Namaste, may your practice be long lasting
Do you know what poses are putting your body at risk for injury? Are you practicing yoga specific for your body type? Do you know how much is too much? Do you understand the function of the hip and the importance of stability? These are important concepts to master whether you practice yoga or teach it.
Watch for upcoming posts about my particular injury, treatment, surgery and rehab. More to come on the mental/emotional transformation that I experienced (and continue to experience). Lastly, watch for instruction and insights on how you can prevent injury and practice smarter. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss a post!