Sounds kind of like a Zen riddle, no? Or maybe just the start of a bad joke…
As some of you might know, I injured myself about 7 weeks ago in a yoga class. I thought initially it was a minor injury, and I’d overstretched my hip flexor by stretching too deeplybefore I was warm. No big deal, I thought. It’s a sign from my body to back off for a few days; I’ll be as good as new, then I can go back to my practice.
It’s been 7 weeks, and I have yet to be able to practice asana. The doctors still aren’t sure what I did to my hip. I’ve been to the chiropractor and the acupuncturist. I’ve RICEd (Rest Ice Compress Elevate) my little heart out. I’ve tried anti-inflammatories. I’ve had X-rays and an MRI. I still do not know what is wrong, how to fix it and when I will be able to practice yoga again.
I’ve also ridden a roller coaster of emotions with the injury. Frustration. Sadness. Impatience. Fear. All of those many times in all of their permutations. I’m sick of this roller coaster and I want to get off.
Yes, I’ve always been an active person. Frankly, it sucks to not be able to do much but walk moderately and do some strengthening work. Yes, yoga has been my main form of stress relief the past 8 years and some form of exercise has been my stress relief since I joined a swim team at the age of 5. It’s not fair. It doesn’t make sense. It sucks that the doctors can’t figure it or move things along more quickly. Also, if you don’t know me well, I hate when things are out of my control, and I’m stuck in an ambiguous situation. Yup, “it sucks” would pretty much sum up the situation.
However, all my whining and complaining and pity party-ing of one doesn’t change the fact that my hip is hurt and I don’t know what is going to happen. I can choose to get myself all worked up about it (and trust me, I’ve had quite the temper tantrum about it… or two) or I can do my best to accept it and make the most of the extra time I now have since I’m not working out. See that positive spin there? I’m not going to lie: I still have my days where I’m grouchy and cranky and I want to cry and say it’s not fair. But those days getting to be fewer.
In all my free time, I’ve had the chance to ponder the practice of yoga. We typically think of yoga as the postures, or asana practice. However, there are 7 other limbs of yoga. These include the yamas (how you treat others), the niyamas (how you treat yourself), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawl of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (state of ecstasy).
I can’t practice much of traditional asana right now. Funny enough, I can actually do some inversions, arm balances, and backbends, which I think of as more “intense” postures, but I can’t do the more relaxing and opening poses since most of them include stretching the hips. While I typically seek out classes where I push my boundaries and I like to try hard poses, I’ve been amazed at how much I miss the basics right now: warrior 2, anjaneasana, pigeon. Oh pigeon…
However, I think a great deal of yoga goes back to the name. Yoga means yoke, or union, as in the union of the body and mind or the breath and movement. I’ve been been trying to find this union in other ways. Being mindful while taking a walk and enjoying the sunset on a clear day. Appreciating what my body can do when I do the strengthening exercise I can still manage. Keeping my mind present and not just zoning out (though it would be so easy when left with exercises I don’t really enjoy as much as yoga).
In addition to finding my yoga in other forms of exercise, I’m trying to remember that the practice of yoga isn’t just on the mat. What can I do off the mat to live my yoga? Where could I be more compassionate? Where could I be more truthful? How can I find contentment in my life? I even practiced my pranayama like no other when I was in the MRI (if you’ve never been in one it’s pretty freaky and you have to hold totally still for 45 minutes). I would like to say I’ve been meditating more… Well, it’s on my list I used to have a daily practice and this seems like the time to get back to it.