When I was a kid, I used to make up imaginary stories where I’d broken my leg. I’d stick a broomstick down the side of my pant leg and gimp around the house. Now that I’ve gone and pulled my left hamstring, I’m grateful I’ve never really had to deal with an injury or broken bone.
Do you remember the last time you were injured? Do you recall how it felt?
This episode started about 3 months ago. I was just winding up with yoga teacher training. I was doing lots of lunges. During regular classes, we’d been focusing on Hanumanasana too. Although I’m still working on my half splits, I was really getting into it and thought I could see myself making progress.
And then this small nagging, uncomfortable, tenseness began to develop. In the back of my left thigh. I tried to pay attention to what it was telling me. I’d done something to make it speak up. I consulted with my yoga teacher, Dianne. We decided it would be best to back off parts of my practice for two weeks, to see what that would do.
No luck. My hamstring had been injured. I couldn’t, and shouldn’t, ignore what my body was telling me.
So I stopped doing yoga. Took a forced rest. It was quite a change since I try to get to my mat about 3-4 times a week. I’ve still been meditating. And I even did one of the on-line classes at the studio without a problem.
Kept teaching my weekly Gentle Yin class. I love being with everyone and noticing how they sink into their practice. But as I did the occasional demo pose, my left hamstring still reminded me that I was not ready to do my own practice yet. I could feel the slight strain in the back of my thigh as I did Uttanasana, Dandasana, Janu Sirsansana or Seated Wide-legged Forward Fold. Ugh. These are basic postures and I wasn’t able to do them.
I went for a few walk-a-bouts in Toronto, after the last two sessions of my veterinary acupuncture training. I noticed my left hamstring muscles feeling tender and strained after a few hours of steady but gentle strolling. I also avoided taking my bike out, in the glorious, sunny spring that had appeared so early this year. No sense aggravating my injury further.
I felt a little frustrated because it limited what I could do. But the rational side of me knew that I should rest.
Injuries keep us mindful and aware instead of floating through our lives. Sometimes we need these moments of hurt to keeps us in the present. The little twinge keeps us anchored in the here and now, rather than reacting out of habit.
Last week, I stepped onto the mat at the studio for the first time in a while. Fortunately, Dianne taught a slower, basic class that day. I focused on isometrically taking my heels wide and apart in Tadasana. I made sure to remember to keep my knees slightly bent for Uttanasana and to lower my left knee to the floor for lunges. It felt good to be back. It felt good to breathe.
During all of this, I paid attention to my inner teacher. It told me to try and back off my practice first. But when that didn’t work, the messages I was getting were to stop and rest. And, this time, I listened. I’m sure there were signs before my hamstring actually got hurt. I didn’t recognize them because I’d never been injured like that before. It has taken me a long time to understand what my body is trying to tell me. As I’ve said before, I tend to live in my head a lot. It’s a lifetime’s work but I’m slowly becoming more aware of the “whole me”. It’s been fascinating to watch myself change this way and I know that it’s because of my yoga practice.