I went to yoga the other day, after 5 weeks off. Being a teacher, that’s a long time. A pretty bad ankle sprain kept me from getting on the floor for about a month, so even my home practice was minimal.
I had a crazy experience after that first class back – I got ‘Yoga High’. This is something that we all experienced at one point in our early practice, and it’s a phenomenon that solidifies us in our practices. A tangible feeling that good has been done. However, as your body detoxes and you flush the systems with a more regular practice, this effect fades somewhat. This epiphany is secondary, but worth mentioning right off the start line – it was awesome to have this experience back!
It was a wild evolution from the initial event, to the five week mark. I noticed a few things about myself that I found annoying, and counterproductive – and I was able to be present with them and reevaluate my inner dialogue.
When you have an injury that people can see, you get asked about it a lot. At first, I started feeling annoyed at the sheer volume of explanations. I got tired of telling the sad story of my injury. I was perpetuating a belief that was a reflection of how I felt about my ankle in the past —-> into the future with these re-tellings. It was a ‘poor me’ story and it was beginning to annoy me to tell it, although I didn’t recognize this at first. It wasn’t that people were asking, it was that the story no longer resonated as true to me, and I hadn’t done anything to change that.
But before I go on to tell you about how I evolved my perspective about my ankle, and how it started healing remarkably quick after that, I want to tell you why I injured myself in the first place.
I do think I did this to myself, in a way, although again, it wasn’t conscious. Here’s the real epiphany. There’s a concept in ayurveda and yoga that we have an innate awareness in our bodies and hearts that is subtle and less conscious to us. It steers us towards homeostasis, call it intuition, body wisdom, whatever you like. Many of us have a subtle inkling it’s there, we hear it speak to us, and yet most of us ignore it. I was totally ignoring it.
I had twinges in my ankle while rock climbing that day, and I even mentioned it to my climbing partner OUT LOUD. Truthfully, this was my body speaking to me pretty loud and clear, the twinges were enough to register on a conscious level. Then I topped out on a V5 route that I’d been working on for a week and a half – and I got overconfident. I tried a silly move that requires you to launch in the air for a hold (a dyno) – and I missed, and came crashing down with momentum and lateral force. It’s very unlike me to be so reckless… why did I do that?
Chances are I’d been ignoring more subtle cues for weeks. I am experiencing a lot of transition in my life right now, and I have probably been trying to maneuver and force solutions prematurely. I think this kind of systemic disconnect with my intuition was the real reason for my injury.
How else are you going to slow yourself down – to be sensitive enough to listen to this subtle awareness and wisdom hidden deep within, when you’re barreling through your life mostly unconsciously at 110 mph? You get injured. You injure yourself. Or make yourself sick.
So anyway, another thing that happens when you injure yourself, is that you hear stories from other people, and you connect with other people in this Secret Club kind of way. I have conducted probably 20 undercover interviews this week, asking questions about this awareness, about the intuition people had right before it happened, that they then ignored, about how their lives changed while they were injured.
I started to inquire about this intuition more specifically, and found that yes, others had felt it too. The majority of people felt that their stories were embarrassing to tell, because they were aware, now, of the hypocrisy of their former viewpoints and lifestyle. They weren’t living in alignment with themselves at that time. Thanks to their reflection time and their injury, now they were.
So what’s that mean for me? It means that I’m taking control of my thoughts and behaviors towards my injury. I am using the incredible opportunity when someone asks what happened, to craft an in-the-moment empowering vision of healing, instead of a sad story told robotically. I’ve had fun joking about playing basketball and rollerskating next week – keeps things light.
If I visualize myself doing it, then my inner healing mechanisms move in that direction, rather than perpetuating the injured state. This attitude towards our injuries is called Vac (vach) in yoga. Our mental attitude toward our bodies, our experiences, our life – this is what creates our reality. Our reality is entirely self-created. We choose what we want to believe, and when we choose to be self-deceptive, and to think about ourselves inside the box, that’s where we will remain.
So I am healing super quick with this epiphany, and with the slow and steady regime of eating healthy, easily digested foods, ice, rest, compression, and elevation of course! If you’re recently injured – welcome to the Club! Now sit still awhile until you realize where in your life you were not living in harmony with your deeper wisdoms, where you were being self-deceptive, and how you could change your attitude towards your injury to promote homeostasis and healing.
Be patient, yoga will be sweeter when you return with a beginner’s mind and body – and you will have one more tool in your repertoire – the ability to help your students with similar injuries!
Speedy recoveries my loves!