I have a healthy ego. However, I learned maybe it’s too healthy, thanks to injury.
Last April, I broke a bone in my wrist when I was snowboarding, got bored, and decided to attempt my first jump. Ouch. That meant no more snowboarding for the season and—once I realized it was a break and not a sprain—a long hiatus from yoga. No plank, upward dogs, downward dogs, or many of the usual for me.
Without snowboarding, but especially yoga, things started to feel a little weird. On top of it, I wasn’t biking in SF then. The initial route I had plotted to work made me feel like I was cycling on a highway. Three of my favourite things were gone, and only in hindsight do I see how much their absence affected me. Not only was I not getting the exercise and meditation I’m used to and crave, I wasn’t doing things that in some way helped define me. What you choose to do, says a lot about you. I was a little at a loss.
Then, just when my wrist was on the mend, my sciatica really acted up. Good grief. However, the timing turned out to be good. It was the final straw. I had been plagued with varying degrees of pain down my left leg (even into my shoulder and neck) ever since my bicycle accident almost eight years before. Chiro, accupuncture, physical therapy, massage, and osteo hadn’t helped. I decided to finally go to a sports doctor.
This doctor helped. He explained all about spinal discs (L5, S1 in particular) and nerves in a way that made sense. He got me into physio (groan, again), but this therapist also helped. Within one session, my pain went from a six to a one. Wow. So for anyone reading this who lives in SF, I would highly recommend the Sports Clinic at St. Francis Memorial Hospital.
Having my pain decrease was really eye-opening. I slept better. I could walk around for long periods of time without feeling like my leg would unhinge at the hip. I think my temper even improved – being in pain can make you have a short fuse.
I got to thinking about other stuff. I decided I should try biking again. I plotted a new route. I still avoid the massive hills, but I no longer feel like I’m on a highway. Biking in SF is way nuttier than Toronto but, for me, it’s better than not biking at all.
During physio, I still wasn’t allowed yoga or, rather, much of it. It turns out I have a hyper flexible back, so I can crunch my discs really easily. Therefore, there was no backending whatsover for me, and that really killed any asana flow. And, duh, no wonder my sciatia had persisted!
Woe was me for a while. Here I had been doing yoga fairly faithfully for 10 years. And now I was stopped for months and months. While I was getting myself out of the pain rut, I also had to get myself out of a thinking rut. It wasn’t about the fact that I did yoga, but WHY I did yoga. I had to think bigger and actually apply the theory. After getting over the pity party in my head, I realized I just needed to find something else that was routine-based, cerebral, and non-cardio. I found a wonderful pilates trainer. Although I like that yoga-related type of exercise and will continue it, I still find yoga to be the compelling mistress.
So finally, last week, I returned to a yoga routine. I’ve had to pay close attention to what causes the slightest twinge of pain. Inevitably, it’s when I listen to my ego. It’s frustrating to only be able to do the tiniest cobra. Heaven—and my back!—forbid an upward dog. I must keep my knees a bit bent in forward stretches so I don’t strain my back. Constantly I have to try to disregard the voice in my head – the voice that tells me what someone who’s done yoga for a long time SHOULD do or act like. I have to act like a beginner. It’s hard. I’m writing this to try to justify it yet another time to myself. Interestingly, it’s possible I’ve never been so present in my practice.
Through my significant year of injury, I was and still am astounded at what creatures of habit we all are. We often define ourselves too narrowly. I put up with what I didn’t have to for way too long. I’m almost glad that I broke my wrist.
It’s all got me thinking about my other ruts….