When I first started yoga I was a mess. I had banged my body up pretty bad in dance rehearsals, long distance runs, rollerblading accidents, and a ton of other mishaps that tend to happen to the accident-prone. When I looked in the mirror you could noticeably see one shoulder higher than the other, my left hamstrings throbbed throughout the day with tendonitis, and I could only accomplish the beginning steps to any of the postures in the Bikram Series.
This was around 2007. I had started practicing in 2005, but honestly I was not committed to it. I would practice on and off when I felt like I needed a stretch or wanted to detox. I by no means thought about the yoga “healing” my body or that it could change my life the way it eventually did. But as I truly leaned into practicing more and more I could see how my body was balancing out and getting physically and mentally stronger.
Eventually my shoulders and hips were even once again. And I remember thinking while I waited in line at an audition right after I had completed my first 30-day challenge, “Holy crap, are those my legs?” They looked stronger and leaner than I ever imagined they could. Yoga is awesome.
But the throbbing ache in my hamstrings continued to bother me. Too many times throughout my musical theatre career I slammed my body into the splits when I wasn’t warm or ready to and I was pretty convinced my left hip and leg were going to scream about it for the rest of my life. I was invested in this injury. It defined who I was and where I had been. A war wound from my life on the stage.
Because of this injury I had convinced myself Standing Head to Knee was something I would probably never accomplish, that going all the way back in Fixed Firm was for people who were not athletically inclined, and grabbing your elbows in Wind Removing Pose was only for people with tiny, tiny thighs.
But then there was a shift. I started to realize that this injury was actually something that could heal. It felt better if I went to class and each day I was going further and further into my postures, accomplishing goals I never though would be achievable for me.
It was only last year that I honestly let the injury go. It was not a part of me anymore, or my future. It was all in the past and there I would like it to stay. Yes, there are days when my left hip and hamstrings put up a fight, but I don’t let it hold me back. I listen to my body and do what I can, but I know I am not my injury. I am much more than that.
Everyday I hear from my students about their injuries. We all have something we’re dealing with. If it’s not physical, it’s emotional and most likely it’s both. Even the students who come in and think they have nothing wrong with them start to notice tiny imbalances in the body that need some work. The key is not to be invested in the injury. It’s just for now, not for forever.
What most of us don’t understand is it’s going to take some time and a commitment to your practice to really truly heal in every sense of the word. A couple of weeks ago I remember saying to a student, “I think you’re on track to getting your head to your knee in Standing Head to Knee Pose sometime within the next year.” They just looked at me like I was nuts. A year? Not next week? Or even next month? Well, maybe. I have no idea when it will happen for you. But what’s the rush? The yoga will just offer up the next challenge and then the next. That’s what it’s designed to do.
Having a yoga practice is a lifestyle and a commitment to yourself and your health. Have faith that you can heal – that the power to do so is within you. And it’s time to discover how powerful you truly are.
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy reading: