The injury as a teacher

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It seems a contradiction that many people are injured in the practice of yoga despite being a discipline designed to obtain physical and mental health. Why does it occur? How can we avoid it? And although it is best to try to prevent it from happening, what can we learn from it?

I recently broke a rib (I wasn't doing any acrobatic poses, just playing basketball with some friends) and realized how much it could impact my practice. Although I continued to teach and also be a student, I became much more aware of a huge limitation in my body. Although for many it would be a burden, a frustration or an obstacle that forces them to stop, in the end I have felt very grateful.

When I have shared this opinion in general it is difficult to understand, how can a constant and impeding pain be perceived as a blessing? Because it amplifies my attention to the body, because it always returns my focus to myself, because it reminds me of the priority objective of yoga: to gain consciousness.

I know many people who have been injured practicing yoga, whatever style it may be, both in hatha static as in vinyasa fluid. It seems a contradiction that a discipline that seeks the integral health of the being and that is even used to recover from injuries can cause others. In the West there is the idea that yoga consists of a series of exercises and postures that the more complex, acrobatic and demanding for the body, the more we advance on our path. Part of the problem lies in that conception, when in fact that is a very small part of what the yoga.

 

 

Why do we get injured?

In general, there is no single answer to this question, but certain behaviors or preconceived ideas can be observed that encourage it. Many students believe that the more they stretch and the farther they go in a posture the better they are doing. practice. As much as the body shows signs of discomfort or reaching the limit, we push ourselves to go further. Sometimes the adjustments we receive are not correct or we do not make the variation that best suits our physical abilities. The belief that effort is necessary and flexibility is the goal doesn't help either.

Sometimes it's just an accident. Many others are due to issues unrelated to the student, for example a very forced adjustment by a teacher or an unintentional kick by another classmate. In general, the practitioner's lack of attention or excess force is much more common. In the end, whether it is a small strain or a serious muscle tear, deep down everything comes from the same place: the failure to listen to something that our body has been warning us for a long time.

Pain is never a good sign during class. Obviously, like any physical work, asanas they carry risk and at the same time put us in physically and mentally demanding situations. But there is a big difference between feeling tension and pain, between controlled force and excessive effort.

So the injury and the pain they can arise during the practice, but not from the posture you are doing, not from the yoga itself, but from the experience you have during it. Because the tension of the body comes from your thoughts and the intention with which you carry out each action. It is your attitude and your vital patterns that lead you to ignore the signals of your body, it is everything that makes you who you are what makes you practice as you practice.

 

 

How to practice to avoid injuring ourselves?

How you practice is what determines whether or not you can get injured. In this article of our partner Silvia Gallego It explains very well how to approach the mat, what is the attitude of those who advance on the path of yoga.

You have to understand that yoga is not a physical practice, it is not just that. It is a space of self-knowledge, in which there is no need or place for the ego, the competition or the demand to meet objectives. It is rather an inner, personal development that leads you towards well-being, not to conquer it, but to recover it as your own state that is already in you.

It all starts with attitude. How you treat yourself, with what intention and intensity you perform each posture. Basically how you treat yourself. You can be patient, treat yourself with love and gentleness, not force yourself. You can learn to recognize your body, listen to your limits and respect them. They already say it yoga sutras: sthira Sukham Asana, the position will be firm and comfortable. So that it does not take us to extremes and gives space for the mind to calm down.

That may be another key to avoiding injuries, understanding that yoga contains a philosophy. In the eight steps of Patanjali a series of premises with which to begin the practice are exposed. In the yamas appear Ahimsa, non-violence, which in this case can be understood as not forcing yourself; sattya, honesty or coherence: Asteia, do not desire what belongs to others or compare yourself; Brahmacharya, energy moderation and Aparigraha, detachment from the result of your actions. By applying these ideas to the mat you realize that they can be transferred to the rest of the actions of your life.

Forget any goal. Get rid of the obsession to achieve that position that resists you. Open yourself to the possibility of just being where you are, conscious breathing. That is yoga.

 

 

What I have learned from being injured

The injury It has allowed me to go back to the basics with which I started in yoga. More than learning new things, it has given me back lessons that over time you end up taking for granted and it is good to recover.

I have remembered that the importance is in the self-knowledge (svadhyaya), in dealing with patience, care and compassion. That the practice is more than asanas and that these can be adapted to any body and condition. That has led me to look at my students with more respect and assume that my body and my possibilities are not those of the other.

each one is responsible of his body and at the same time as a teacher I am responsible for my students and their experience. And that with self-care everything is prevented. As my teacher Gordana Vrajnes reminded us: “everything comes, everything passes, everything changes”.

When your body is limited you realize what it usually allows you and you are not thankful. So I have learned to be grateful every day for what I can do and to be grateful for everything that happens because it leads to learning. We take many things for granted, and you don't have to lose something to appreciate it. thank now at this precise moment everything you already are and do.

The practice should not be the cause of any type of injury. It should help everyone find their way integral wellness at all levels. That leads us to focus our mind and that improves our day to day.

That is why sometimes the injury can be the great teacher. It returns your conscious attention to yourself and your body in a magnified way, it lowers your ego that always wants more, it makes you more humble and more grateful with life. Hopefully all of us who follow the path of Yoga can remember these lessons without having to harm ourselves to do so.

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