Friday, December 2, 2011

Another Yoga Story

(yes, the writing group is up: go here)

I'm not sure if this one is a parable. But it's what's on my mind right now, so here goes:

I've been practicing yoga in a studio (as opposed to at home) fairly regularly now for a little over a year, and about two months ago, I started experiencing some really encouraging breakthroughs. I can now do a simple arm balance that had been my nemesis for the whole first year. I can get into a headstand with a bit of assistance past the sticking point. I've regained a great deal of mobility in my formerly-frozen shoulders -- even the super-stuck left one. I figured out the caturanga-up dog transition without letting my legs drop. I have become aware of the things that are holding me back (::cough:: core strength!), and have determined to work on those things. Most importantly, I have learned that getting a pose or a transition requires being willing to fail at it for a while, without giving up.

One lesson that I apparently have not learned, however, is the line between "not giving up" and "forcing it." This came to a head this past week, as I tried to push myself to another breakthrough on a particular forward bend, rather than just letting it come when it comes. And the sad result is that tonight, I felt myself just a hair's-breadth away from giving myself a serious hamstring injury.

So, I actually did something smart: I stopped what I was doing. I decided that a little humility and backing off for a week or two was a small price to pay for not dealing with a painful injury and six months' recovery time. I know my practice will keep improving, if I give it time, because that's what's been happening already.

But goddamn it: accepting that I have limits is hard.


clio's disciple said...

Having the body awareness to know that you are about to injure yourself is also a good thing.

Someone I knew in yoga class a while back tore a muscle after being talked into demonstrating the splits at a family gathering. Twice.

Historiann said...

SPAM above.

Don't hurt yourself. It seems very anti-yoga-thetical.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Thanks, H'ann -- I've deleted it. And yes, I'm taking it slow the next two weeks, taking a week off at Christmas, and I should be back to my usual self.

But yes: "pushing yourself" is inherently anti-yoga. Which is why yoga is so good for me, I suppose.

Connie said...

Do you have adhesive encapsulitis? Is it not painful to use your arms? I have limited mobility in my right arm and some movements are quite painful.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Connie, that's precisely what I had. In both shoulders, one starting in right after the other had healed. I'm years past the pain stage by now, but even years later there are some lingering issues with external rotation -- as in, I don't have any. But yoga has been good for strengthening the atrophied shoulder muscles, and even bringing back a teensy bit of the rotation.