Practicing Through Injury
My forward fold resembles chair pose these days. Injuries used to become my story, e.g. “ I can’t do that because of this, etc.” Now, after 15 years of practice, two pregnancies and minor injuries during this time, I’ve managed to practice without becoming a victim to these injuries. I now understand that all experiences will pass, whether pleasurable or painful. I see these minor injuries as an opportunity to shift into inquiry and learn more about what’s happening at the physical and emotional level.
I’m experiencing some pain on the right side of my body, especially in the hamstring and up to the glutes. When I really listen, the subtle pain starts at my right big toe, continues up the back of my leg, the muscles surrounding my spine and all the way up to the occipital bone at the base of my skull. My practice looks and feels very different. I don’t have the flexibility in my right side and am unable to move into deeper expressions of postures.
The right side of the body represents the more masculine aspects, e.g. sun, hot, active, muscular energy, while the left side represents the more feminine aspects of our nature, e.g. moon, cool, introspective, flexibility. This is not tied to gender. If I look at my own partnership, my husband has more of this cooling energy while I tend to run hot.
Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga that balances these energies, can be translated as “ha” meaning sun and “tha” meaning moon. There is a sutra in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter 2 vs 46: “sthira sukham asanam”, that can be translated to “every pose should have the balance between effort and ease”. This sutra can be applied to postures on the mat and life situations off the mat. Can we find the balance between effort and ease at work, home, and in our relationships?
My physical body is telling me that I need to accept and surrender to what is happening on the right side. Off the mat, this looks like my drive, and ambition and what this injury is telling me is to back off there too. I need to accept what is happening right now because right now is the present moment. Fighting against it requires a lot of energy that’s moving in the wrong direction. I can get caught up though in this conditioned thought of what success should look like. When that happens, I listen to Chance the Rapper and recognize that it’s all ego:
“I only think about myself
I only think about my work
I only think about my come-up, capitalism
Look at where we come from
We are what we run from
We are why we smoke some”
Besides listening to Chance, I let go of this internal struggle by writing, spending time listening to the ocean, meditating and continuing my yoga practice.