Injuries - How To Learn From Them

I am writing this post inspired by some of my recent (minor) injuries.

About a week ago, my personal yoga practice (Asthanga, Mysore Style) was going great.  I was feeling strong, practising daily, and I was even given a new pose (supta urdhva pada vajrasana) by my teacher, Hamish Hendry.  Then, later on that day, during a mummy and baby yoga, I stood up awkwardly with a baby in my arms, and I heard a ‘pop’ sound in my lower back.  Having had experienced bulging lumbar discs before, I knew immediately that that was what had happened.

The next morning, I hobbled back to Dharma Shala, and Hamish said to go back to Primary Series and to practice mindfully, focusing on moving the lumbar spine into the body, especially in forward bends.  I started with sun salutations, and the second vinyasa (where we go from standing to uttanasana, hands on the floor) took me about 10 breaths to do.  My practice, physically,  was the polar opposite from the one of the previous day when I was on top of the world.  However, even though I was practising like a 100-year old person, my mind was fully present and there was an amazing sense of calm and focus when I had finished.  It was one of my best practices in a long time!

When I had the same injury about 7 years ago, I felt miserable for months because I couldn’t do physically what I used to do before.  I was attached to my physical health and achievements.  When you let go of that attachment, the practice will always be rewarding regardless of what your body can do.  In that way, we will be able to do yoga until our final exhalation on this Earth.

Injuries should always be avoided, but if one happens, use it as a great tool to get to know yourself better, both in terms of a physical body and your mind.

Pain in the Neck

In today’s society there are many people suffering with neck pain.  It is estimated that about half of the grown up population have lost their cervical curve to a certain degree. Google “loss of cervical lordosis” and you will see the wide range of problems that it can cause.  And yet, degeneration of the neck is something we assume is bound to happen with age.

However, with yoga the condition of the neck can be greatly improved.  The two main areas to work on is bringing curve back into the neck and the traction which increases spaces between the vertebrae, which leads to decompression of the discs.
There are many exercises which work on those issues.  The secret to the success is in doing them regularly, and by regularly I mean 3-4 times a day in the beginning. Only by doing little and often, the muscles supporting the neck will start to change their pattern and adapt to a new and corrected posture.

X-rays of different necks

X-rays of different necks