What Your Injury Is Really Trying To Teach You
"Inhale the good shit; exhale the bullshit.”
"Just because you can get your foot past your head in King Pigeon doesn't mean you should do it every time. That's called ego. Honor your body."
"If you dropped a pair of sunglasses and heard a crack when they hit the ground, would you jump up and down on top of them and destroy them? No, you would gently pick them up and see if there was any way you could fix the damage. So why do we hurt ourselves in this way? We make one mistake and say 'screw it, the damage has already been done, might as well just give up on myself.'"
"What about all the amazing things you work toward and accomplish every single day? Why does one setback among all the incredible things about you make you want to crush yourself like the pair of sunglasses? Be gentle with yourself. You can fix this. It's only temporary and it's going to be OK."
All of these words are from my inspiring, radiant, incredible, mind-blowing yoga teachers over the years.
Here's my letter of thanks.
You make me think about far more than just the physical asana practice of yoga. I think about the hardest decisions I've had to make and then about how I felt after I made them. Then I think about the hardest pose you've had me hold in your yoga class. These classes taught me how to breathe through these moments of unfamiliarity or discomfort and learn how to overcome them with the incredible power of my mind and hold control over all aspects of my life. You make me feel powerful.
You taught me to apply these asanas to hardships and difficult decisions that come my way quite often in my unpredictable human existence. You taught me that yoga isn't about coming into a perfect, mind-blowing backbend. It's about accepting and living and embracing my presence with ease.
Discovering power through injury.
What about when I finally worked my flexibility up to get into full Hanumanasana (split)? A few weeks later, I injured my hamstring and still can't attempt to get into that pose again. I felt defeated and weak. All my hard work was wasted.
But no. You taught me that yoga isn't about achieving that difficult split, that powerful handstand, that picture-perfect asana. Yes, these wonderful shapes and strength come along with a daily practice, but really yoga means union. Union with the mind, body, and spirit. You said: If that handstand is the ultimate goal of my practice, there can be nothing but disappointment waiting for me on the other side.
Because once I achieve it, then what?
You taught me that when my body is at its best, to thank the universe and learn. And when I get injured and feel weak, to thank the universe and learn. It's time to work on those things I've been avoiding and putting aside. It's time to meditate and clear my mind, work on strengthening because I always take my natural flexibility for granted. Now I'm doing arm balances I convinced myself I was never going to be capable of doing.
Sure, these poses look really cool, but the real accomplishment is that my mind is so much stronger now, too. Why did I talk myself into the notion that I didn't have the strength to hold these intense postures? You taught me to silence that voice of inner doubt and conquer my mind; to know that I am capable of anything.
"When a child is learning to walk and falls down 50 times, he never thinks to himself, "maybe this isn't for me." You taught me how to have the incredible mind, ambition, and fearlessness of a young child.
Thank you for teaching me that it's OK to shatter a little and be broken. That's the only way I'll learn how to gracefully bend and be stunningly adaptable and malleable yet rooted, incredibly firm and strong.
Thank you for teaching me be fluid in my flow on the mat and apply that fluidity to the constant transformation and turbulence around me (and within me). To recognize and observe the seasons and energetic vibrations constantly changing and adjust myself accordingly, without giving away my unique and lovely roots.
"Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion." Thank you for teaching me to take up all the space.