A physical injury can be very frustrating for anyone. For athletes, performers and others that use their bodies as part of their career, injuries are particularly upsetting and can have all kinds of consequences. For the average yoga student, injuries can also be annoying. You are working to improve your lifestyle and become more healthy when, all of a sudden, your body puts up a roadblock. Though some injuries are more serious than others, any injury can change the way you approach your practice.
Changing Your Mindset
An injury is an opportunity to learn more about your body and your yoga practice. Of course, that’s easier said than done. If you have a pulled hamstring or a shoulder that hurts every time you take your arms overhead, the last thing you want to hear is what a great opportunity this is. Your mindset has to change first; accept that you have an injury and that cannot be changed. What can change is the way you approach the situation.
First, talk to your yoga teacher about your injury. (This is assuming you have already been to a doctor for a diagnosis.) Many experienced yoga teachers can offer recommendations for how to adjust your poses and practice. If your teacher is not sure, consider seeking a more experienced teacher for advice.
Move into your poses with more awareness and internal focus. Can you find the place between where everything is okay and where your injury begins to hurt? If you change your alignment slightly or make another adjustment, can you move further into the pose before pain begins? Can the breath help? If you adjust by not moving as deeply into your poses, it becomes a chance to improve other aspects of the poses or to begin holding them for longer periods of time.
Therapeutic yoga is a growing area of research and practice within the field of yoga. Many in the medical community are now recognizing what yogis have known for decades, if not centuries. Yoga offers a safe and effective way to treat many common injuries, illnesses and diseases. While it is not necessarily a cure, at the least, yoga can often provide a reduction in pain and other symptoms while also improving one’s attitude toward the illness.
Yoga is about much more than the physical part of the practice. Injuries remind us of that. Working with an injury in yoga forces us to move within. To avoid further harm, the mind has to align with the subtleties of the physical body. The ego has to move out of the way to allow a successful union of the other parts of the self. Sometimes, it takes an injury to teach us the true meaning of yoga.