This morning I took a huge digger! It was 6:15 am, and I had just returned from dropping a friend off at the MegaBus downtown. Apparently, I hadn’t yet acquired my “morning legs” and as I was climbing the cement stairs up to my house I fell. Hard. I landed on my hip and scraped my elbow. Luckily, nothing was seriously injured. However, I am bruised and sore. At first, I was bummed that I couldn’t do an athletic practice today. I really felt like moving, sweating, and challenging myself.
Injuries can be a great reminder for us to slow down, and to become far more mindful. The mindset of harder, faster, and better can be injurious to our bodies and our egos. Sometimes our bodies just need to rest. Yup- I said it. It doesn’t hurt to occasionally take a day off, modify poses, or spend most of the practice in child’s pose. Injured or not, it can feel quite luxurious!
Shortly after I started practicing regularly, I tore my rotator cuff. I was dancing on an icy driveway and bit the dust. (I’m sensing a trend here.) It was a long period of recovery. After I was allowed to bear weight, it took me a very long time to learn how to practice chaturanga safely. It was frustrating, but my injury forced me to practice both safely and mindfully. I must admit, I’m very grateful that I had the experience of practicing with a rotator cuff injury. It reminded me not to become hasty in my practice.
Yoga does not often grant instant gratification. The practice requires time, patience, and compassion. The fruits of our labor can take time to reveal themselves. Injuries can be a reminder to rest, to practice with clarity, to be gentle with oneself in the process. Injuries are our bodies call for help. Many injuries can also be avoided by moving slower, and more mindfully in everyday life. My teacher Chrissy Carter says, “When we slow down, we can perceive more.” When we can perceive more of the subtleties of our body, we can truly listen to what it needs.