I’ve written before about hidden limits or boundaries that we attach to ourselves. Some of these limits are helpful, like the limit that says, “I shouldn’t walk across a street that contains a moving vehicle.” Other limits are not so helpful, and these limits are often times invisible to us.
I recently uncovered a limit that I had in my space. This limit said that the only yoga asana that I should practice was a rigorous type of Astanga or vinyasa that gave my body a noticeable workout. Last July, when an injury occurred on my body, I didn’t try any types of more gentle yoga to increase healing. Instead, I went out of the yoga world and into the medical world until I was ready to jump back into a vinyasa class. Today I realize that in doing that, I missed out on so many of benefits that yoga has to offer.
This time, I am not going outside of yoga to heal. I was recently inspired to attend a Happy Back Class at Prana Yoga in La Jolla. It was fabulous! Not only was is safe for people with injury, it focused on common postures (we worked mostly standing asanas for that class) and how specifically to use the leg and belly muscles to release the back and keep it free in the posture. The class included aid from the yoga wall with straps to hold onto in standing postures, and a sling to hang from in downward facing dog and child’s pose. Hanging in traction is one of my new favorite things! I’ve been trying to stretch my back like that for months without having the physical ability to do it; with the wall, it’s easy! And as for thinking I wouldn’t get enough exercise — my legs are so sore! Our instructor’s mantra to us was that we have strong legs that can hold us up; our back doesn’t have to do all that work. I realized that I had been stabilizing my postures with a tailbone tuck that caused clenching in the glutes and the back; learning to stabilize myself only with my legs and low belly was very challenging, and left me more sore than I have been in months!
I am so inspired. My ego is embarrassed that I let myself go so long believing that vinyasa was the only type of yoga for me. I fully admit that I was so wrong. Today, I am taking the Happy Back Class again because I want to learn more. I want to learn how to have a practice free of pain and discomfort and free from putting my back at risk through poor alignment and weakness. I’m also taking a restorative class this evening that will focus on spinal alignment and deep relaxation. As I look towards these different and varying types of yoga, I am inspired and excited to learn as much as I can. I’ve realized in the past few weeks that although I love vinyasa, it’s not for everyone all the time. There are people with chronic injury or recovering injury who need yoga also, and I want to be an instructor who can tailor a practice to help those people recover, to take the worry or panic from their mind, and show them, like I was shown Wednesday, that they are strong and they can train their body in a healthy way.