Yoga While Injured: Finding Peace in a Modified Practice

“Ego says, “Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.” Spirit says, “Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.” ~Marianne Williamson

dsc03645Everyone has their happy place. It’s a place where in that moment, all is right with the world and you feel like your best self. For some it’s a cup of coffee and a good book, a long run through the park, a quiet moment of meditation or prayer, or an afternoon working in the garden. When I step onto my yoga mat and begin my pranayama, the stress and worries of the world begin to melt away. I can spend these precious moments not thinking about diapers to change, sibling squabbles to referee, piles of laundry to disperse or bills that need to be paid. I am grounded.

As a homeschooling mother of three, a moment to myself and for myself is a rare and necessary gem. Yoga is my reset button. With a particularly good practice, I can cultivate an energy inside me that is strong, powerful, and inspiring. I walk away feeling as though I could take on anything that comes my way, equipped with new ideas, and a fresh look on life. It is a powerful force.

Before I became pregnant with my last baby, I had a strong practice. I know the goal of yoga is not to be good at poses, but I had set intentions in my practice and through hard work and dedication had obtained many of them. I was consistent in finding space in our busy lives to make time to get on my mat. Yet during my last pregnancy, even though I strived to hold tight to my yoga practice, things began to fall apart.

First I found myself frustrated and annoyed with my new limitations. I was not willing to let go of my regular practice to make room the growing babe. I wanted to continue many of my beloved classes with teachers that motivated me, but found myself modifying so much of the class, I was barely doing the same practice as everyone else in the room. Prenatal classes were fine, but left me wanting more. Then as the months rolled by, new aches and pains combined with a consuming exhaustion found a way to prevent me from finding time and energy for being on my mat. In the final months of the pregnancy, a dust began to form on my mat from its neglect. Just as yoga is the force that lifts me up, without it I am left feeling lost and flailing. It’s true a good yogini is one that can carry her practice off the mat, but I’ve found without the physical practice, I am just not myself and struggle to find my mindful ways.

With the arrival of my daughter, the countdown began. I was anxiously waiting to reach the suggested six-week mark in my postpartum journey so that I could dust off my mat and get back to myself. After months of losing my practice, I started off realistically and slow. I was careful and caring with my body and even though I craved strong poses, I knew I had work to do to get back to them. But each time I stepped on my mat, I was realizing something was off. The aches and pains that should have disappeared with birth were lingering. Not only was yoga causing pain, but I found myself not being able to take a walk around the block without pain. My doctor was concerned about my pelvic floor and bones, so I got a one way ticket to physical therapy to discover I am suffering from symphysis pubis dysfunction and the jury is still out on whether or not there’s actually a stress fracture in my pelvic bone. The two halves of my pelvic bone have been misaligned causing pain in the joints surrounding the bones, including the sacroiliac joint and even down through my hamstring. My physical therapist put me on restriction from all asymmetrical poses.

I was devastated with this news. True, not all poses in yoga are asymmetrical, but a great deal of them are, making your everyday yoga class largely unobtainable. I continued a yoga class that I had committed to for 9 weeks that ran alongside my kids’ yoga class (which is such a brilliant idea) but I spent many of those classes feeling frustrated and limited. It was like being pregnant all over again in terms of my limitations on the mat because I would have to modify the class so much that my practice barely matched the rest of the room. It is true that yoga is an independent practice, but there is something to be said about the power of community in a yoga class and when you can’t be a part of that, you feel like an outsider in the room. I felt out of place with my graceless poses.

But I persisted. I have been practicing a modified, all-symmetrical yoga practice for many months now. I am learning to find my peace in the awkward yoga. The more I have practiced, the more I’ve found ways to feel in line with the unity of the class. I focus on my breath, I find satisfaction in the work I am able to do with my upper body and core, and I remind myself that it is all temporary. By focusing on the poses I can do, I can find myself.

After combining bi-weekly physical therapy and acupuncture treatment for the past five months, I am slowly seeing my body come back together, piece by piece. Last week, I was given the green light to do my first warrior pose in months and my body rejoiced! Revisiting such a familiar pose is like being reunited with an old friend. It was so encouraging and I know that one day I will bring back the lunges, pigeon pose and so many other poses that for now disagree with my body. They’re out there just waiting on me. Waiting to bring me home to my happy place.

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My happy place.

 

 


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