Learning to Realise Your Limits

About a year ago I was yoga-ing my face off. As in every day. Going for broke. Then something unfortunate happened. I ended up with an injury. Because I did the one thing teachers always tell you not to do. I pushed myself too hard, didn’t listen to my body and tried to go deeper into something which I most definitely wasn't ready for. I’ve always had tight hamstrings-probably naturally, as I’ve never been one for physical activity before I found yoga. So pushing myself down toward the floor during a wide legged forward fold sadly (and deservedly, let’s face it) left me with an injury to my adductor magnus. The adductor magnus is the muscle running from the sit bone to the inner femur and is often labelled as the ‘4th hamstring’. It was a while before I addressed it, (I like to ignore things and hope that they’ll go away) which probably exacerbated the issue as I was probably aggravating it pretty regularly. After a few months I couldn't ignore the pain and had to do something about it.

First word of advice from my physical therapist stated NO YOGA-for 2-3 weeks. Quite naturally I was heart broken. The physical aspect of yoga is what keeps me feeling sane. It helps me to direct all of my excess anxious energy somewhere and to deal with the world off the mat. Somewhat akin to taking a drug off a drug addict-to a lesser extent obviously, but that’s how I felt. A little helpless and broken-all down to my own doing of course. It was like a cruel parental punishment from the Universe to make me realise the error of my ways. Karma, eh?

What followed was an excruciating trigger point therapy session. I think I’ve blocked most of it out of my mind, but I do recall screaming at one point (sorry Mandy!). It bloody hurt, but luckily for me, it worked. I laid off the intense exercise for a few weeks. When I finally came back to the mat I felt like I was in a different body entirely. As with anything, if you don't practise, you’ll get rusty. That’s how my body felt; rusty, stiff. To a certain extent I had to re-learn all the muscle memory I was used to accessing on a daily basis. Learning to move slowly and honour what my body was saying to me at every moment became the new MO of my practice. I still feel twinges of pain when in certain postures (triangle/ wide legged forward fold), which has to be a good thing-a stark reminder to take my time and listen to what my body is saying to me.

I’ve heard before that the best thing that can happen to a yoga teacher is to sustain an injury. I know now why this injury happened to me. It had to happen to teach me certain lessons to deepen my practice-and humility! Certainly, it’s taught me to let go of my ego-as anything forced is always coming from a place of ego. Force is the opposite of flow, I’ve learned to go with the flow on and off the mat-not to force things in general. It’s also a great point of reference for dealing with any students who have suffered a similar injury, in terms of their healing. I’m sure anyone reading this has done yoga. Please take this as a catalyst to observe yourself in your practice. If you find yourself striving in a pose, slow it down. Ask yourself why? What’s the rush? This is a process and every step of it should be treated with the same amount of respect as the proceeding or previous. Trust me, the pain isn’t worth it and it will only hold you back in the long run. As they say-it’s not the destination, but the journey which counts. Stay present.
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