Sunday, February 15, 2009

33/46 Injuries as opportunities

Day off.

Today's meditation is something I've thought about quite a bit over the last several months.  The basic idea is that injuries give us the chance to pay more attention, and ultimately can lead to even greater improvement. 

I've dealt with two injuries from yoga so far.  Both stem from the same two basic causes:  excess ambition and bad form.  My guess is that most yoga injuries come from these problems -- although there can be many reasons for bad form.

First was some tendonitis in my knee.  It came and went, then came back even stronger.  It took me a while to nail down what really was causing this.  For a while, we chalked it up to simply being a realignment in my body causing temporary discomfort.  That was fine, until it came back the second time.  It turned out that I was going back to far in Fixed Firm while still having my toes flared out a bit to the side.  And on top of that, my leg would twist out a little when I locked my knee, instead of continuing to point forward.  Paying close attention to these details has worked wonders for my knee ever since.

The second injury was my sciatic pain.  It's still lurking just over the horizon for me, but I almost always have it in check now.  This one came from the same thing -- pushing too hard with bad form.  Here, the bad form came as a result of overdoing what the dialogue says in Separate Leg Head to Floor.  We are told to stand with our feet wide apart and pigeon-toed.  By over doing the pigeon toe, combined with pushing too hard in all of the forward bends, I pulled the periformis muscle in my left hip, and this in turn aggravated the sciatic nerve.  Sticking to keeping my feet parallel instead of over-pigeon-toed, took care of this problem.

When I had these injuries, I learned how to do Standing Bow.  I couldn't push that hard, because my hip hurt too much to allow it.  As a result, I started really concentrating on the form and doing what I could as well as I could do it, without worrying about how deep I went.  It made no sense to worry about depth, because it was impossible anyway.  From this, I got a better idea of what good form in the pose felt like, and the pose has improved by leaps and bounds as a result.

Thus, while we shouldn't be looking to injure ourselves, they do present opportunites for improvement.  And they are almost always an invitation to pay closer attention.  

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