No Pain, No Gain

Yes, William Broad…I have a yoga injury. I didn’t get in it class; wasn’t straining to impress. A teacher didn’t propel me into a pose I wasn’t ready for.

It happened during self practice. I was working innocently enough…just wanted to achieve a deeper understanding of Marichyasana I. Something pulled, my right sacral iliac joint inflamed to the size of a ping pong ball and I was in agony.

After four days of rest, I went back to class with teachers who knew how to help me heal by suggesting I back off when my natural inclination is to push further. A trip to teacher and Rolfing expert Debby Green for a structural integration session helped immensely and my sacrum is rebalanced. It is nice to be able to walk and sit with no pain.

You can hurt yourself in any pose…in any activity…even sitting. The real yoga practice is in what you do afterwards.

Do you ignore it and keep pushing through your pain? Do you let it get worse without resting? Do you wear it like a badge of courage thinking that you’re tougher for it?

If so, you are missing an important opportunity to learn about yourself.

An injury can teach you where you are out of balance both physically and psychologically:

  • Can I rest? Sounds easy right. But, this is hard for a movement junkie like me.
  • Am I angry at myself for being weak? Maybe you do this too. I mentally beat myself up for not being stronger or more flexible.
  • What was the physical route I took that got me into trouble? A little analysis here. Is it possible to evaluate with non-judgment what deep habits may have contributed to my injury?
  • Can I work with the situation in front of me? When practicing…especially in class…can I ignore what everyone else is doing and just concentrate on how my body feels in the present moment?

An injury won’t go away by ignoring it. You can’t pretend you’re not impaired when your back or knee or hamstring or shoulder is screaming.

Now when I hurt myself I try to make myself stronger  by embracing my injury. It’s the best way to gain from the pain.

–Brette Popper


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