So here’s the deal … A yoga practice does NOT cause injuries. Be not afraid of your cranky neck, your tweaked rotator cuff, your compressed lumbar spine. You can pull out the mat. Bow down in balasana. Celebrate. Yoga asana will NOT injure you.
Simply put, it is the WAY we practice yoga that causes injuries. When asana is practiced with respect to the Universal Principles of Alignment that define the Anusara methodology, the yoga practitioner will not get hurt.
And that, my friends, pisses me off.
Well not “that” but what it means to me when injuries appear. Truly, that’s the gift of the Anusara methodology, isn’t it? When we diligently practice with respect to the Universal Principles of Alignment, we will not get hurt. Whatever our age, whatever our particular issues and conditions, asana practice can be safely and enthusiastically embraced. It is when we are out of alignment that injuries result.
I believe this to be true. I embrace this. I TEACH this. So when an injury or pain surfaces in my own practice, I am deeply affected. I experience it as a failure, a lack of proper integration. (Read: I was either stupid or careless!) I am deflated. It is a self-inflicted wound, a scourge on my soul. Okay I’ll admit it; I’m slipping into the dramatic here, but I wanted to work the word “scourge” into this entry somewhere.
A Case in Point: The Tree Limb is Down
I have been working handstands with diligence. In fact, I have deemed 2008 “The Year of Adho Mukha Vrksasana (without a nearby wall)” I want to balance. I want that stability. I want to work in that place of strength with freedom. I am not afraid to kick up. (Truly, hurling through space without regard to orientation has always been … umm … somewhat of a strength of mine.) I know my attention must be more focused on muscular energy and drawing to the mid-line. It’s about working slowly, purposely, and consciously. And now slowly, purposefully, I am getting there.
Recently, Christina had us move into handstand from prasarita padottanasana. Jeremiah and I partnered learning to provide both stability along with a little lift to get the hips up and over so the legs can extend fully. As we worked together, I felt the muscular connection within me that was required to make it happen on my own. I caught a glimpse of what I needed to cultivate.
With newfound determination, I went home to work. I tried to recreate the assist with my “faux” partner, the bedroom wall (granted not nearly as entertaining as Jeremiah.) The positioning was more challenging. I had to move into the wall instead of “it” coming to me. I got up once. Excitedly, I tried again. I shifted my hands. I searched for some support of my shoulder blades. I drew in. I even added sound effects.
Then it happened. My wrist started hurting. Not in a big dramatic way, not in a “collapse on the floor and writhe in pain” sort of way. More like in a “what’s up with that” sort of way. I tried a few more handstands and called it a night. It was a small nuisance, certainly of little concern.
I woke the next morning with an aching wrist. Not allowing myself to consider my handstand practice, I dismissed it and returned to the welcoming studs waiting eagerly to assist me. (I am referring here to my WALL studs, of course!) Some more attempts and then an afternoon practice with Christina. I mentioned my wrist was tweaked for “some reason.” And then she said it … something along the lines of: “It’s not your wrist that’s the problem, Pamela, it’s probably coming from your shoulder alignment.”
“Slowly I turned … step by step … inch by inch!” (And for those of you too young to know that phrase, look it up!)
By the next morning, my wrist was aching and my SHOULDER had come along for the ride in throbbing support. Christina’s words reverberated in my head. Coincidence? I think NOT! I had to accept that I did this to myself; not “a” yoga practice but “my” yoga practice. And THAT’S what irritates me, folks. (Loop back to the beginning.) I view it as a personal failure.
But really, it doesn’t have to be. If I don’t get stuck there — and if I so choose — I am able to create another experience for myself. I can go back to the basics, look at the Universal Principles and rebuild it. Like the Six Million Dollar Man, I can be “better … stronger … faster.” I can rebuild myself.
I have the technology.