Injury as Insight
We all handle injuries a little differently. And differing injuries differ in our handling of them, too. Generally speaking though I like to hide from my injuries. And Ill hide them from you, too. If you cant detect my pain as I whince through another half-perfect turn, then Im good lets do another lap.
I have vague memories of multiple sprains, fractures, twists and pulls throughout my relatively active life. Ill admit to having faked the odd limp for sympathy in high school, but I finished the game on a rolled ankle a couple times too, if that counts for anything. The injuries that I hide from are a little different in nature. They are persistent weakness and misalignment difficulties that ebb and flow with the season and snow. I generally dont even notice them, with proper maintenance and attitude. I can generally keep them submerged, beneath the surface. But every so often they can rear their ugly head having direct effect on my pain threshold, mood, psyche and relationships.
Pretending you arent injured is sorta like resisting arrest there is a momentary thrill of perceived invincibility, but you always end up getting cuffed in the end. I like to convince myself that it isnt my ego or competitive nature that obscures my reasoned, rational mind that really just wants to call a team of therapists and lay around for a month. Like most red-blooded Whistlerites, I like to push myself and explore my own limits. I like to think that I think rationally in most situations, and am able to overcome my own fears, ego, adrenaline and competitive edge in moments of truth. But when it comes to letting my injuries overcome me, I am a stubborn goat. I hide from them because they scare me. And I hate to admit that you may be catching a glimpse of my ego lurking behind my everyday smile.
I am developing a bone spur on my left foot. I am having my ski-boot punched out right now. I am convinced that there is a relationship between my weak left hamstring, my tight left hip, my sore left knee and my bone spur. You may be like most I have mentioned this to and think me a little nuts. Ive started doing a lot of Yoga and that is probably why I am spouting all this bunk. I am beginning to see deep into my own body and am becoming aware of my persistent patterns of movement and their relationship to my injuries. Believe it or not, my bone spur is a physical manifestation of my ego. And there may be more subtle forms in my posture and strut.
Yoga is an approach to life and to self-understanding that transforms you by opening up your body and mind. For me, Yoga is a process of confronting my limits and overcoming them. It involves finding that fine balance between pushing and surrender. I have caught a glimpse of its transformative potential on all levels of my being. I have found that Yoga allows me the strength and humility, the confidence and grace to overcome my injuries with nothing but my own focus and determination, breathing and awareness. I am better at everything that I do, physically and mentally.
Injuries can be handled in a variety of ways by your Yoga instructor. You should inform the instructor before a class of your injuries and any modifications that you do to meet them. S/he will often provide you with modifications that are tailored for your specific situation. You may also wish to consult your physiotherapist or sports doctor in relation to specific injuries and postures. Keep in mind that our approach to our injuries and yoga practice will reflect and be reflected on our approach to everyday life. If you try to push your injuries to heal, they will only grow worse. If you are compassionate with yourself and approach your yoga practice and life with awareness you will reap the rewards of a fully repaired body.
Persistent injuries can be a reflection of our own personalities, insecurities, weaknesses and compensations. Becoming aware of our injuries and overcoming them with patience and compassion through stretching and breathing can be a very restorative process. We can often overcome mental and emotional pains and blockages as well as reveal that dwelling beneath the veil of our ego is a kind, calm, compassionate and peaceful soul.
"What stands in the way of course is always the vital ego with its ignorance and the physical consciousness with its inertia which resents and resists any call to change and its indolence which does not like to take the trouble it finds it more comfortable to go on its way repeating always the same old movements and, at best, expecting everything to be done for it in some way or at some time." Sri Aurobindo
Robb Miller is a hell of a fine citizen and a great yogi - he runs whistleryoga.com