When Good Yoga Goes Bad

Yoga Junkiesop

Asana Junkies – An Intervention For You!

The scars on my left wrist form a perfect square; four incision points on the top of my wrist, and a fifth near the base of my thumb. It was sophomore year of college and I had adapted a rigorous yoga practice, attending the small studio in my town daily and pushing my body harder than I ever had before.

Finding My Place, Breaking My Body

I was not athletic growing up, and finding yoga that year was like a revelation – after my very first class I was hooked. It was also generally a tumultuous time (whose life at 19 doesn’t contain varying degrees of chaos) and yoga was my release. I began to depend on my practice in a way that wasn’t honoring what was best for my body, and still I pushed forward. I began having intense and consistent pain in my wrist, and still I pushed forward.

A Lesson Learnt Deep Into The Body Tissues

By the time I was home for Christmas break an x-ray revealed I had torn a ligament and I was immediately scheduled for surgery. What followed were two operations, pins and a year of physical therapy. It has been six years and I still have a badly shredded ligament in need of surgery, weakness and pain, with added arthritis and this interesting clicking sound whenever I rotate my hand. Plus the scars.

Yoga Is Not Competitive!

Still I remain grateful for the experience of major injury. It has humbled my practice and taught me so much about listening to my body. Class can often feel like a competition, both with ourselves as well as with others. Yoga can help the body do some seriously impressive stunts, and the achievement of various feats of flexibility and strength can be addictive. However the point of practice is not circus-like performance – in fact, it’s not performance at all.

The Cause of Your Suffering Is Also Your Path To Freedom

Yoga is a beautiful tool for communicating with our physical and emotional selves, whose needs are so often drowned out by the buzz of daily life. It is the connection to breath and the deepening of awareness that characterize a great practice, two things that can be easily missed when you spend a class straining or “working out.” Yoga junkies, I know it is tempting to test your limits, but take it from someone who will never do plank again because of the pressure it puts on my wrist: it’s worth it to rest sometimes. Yoga isn’t going anywhere.

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About Rose O’Shea

Rose O’Shea is a writer/comedian and yogi based in Los Angeles, CA, although Hollywood glamour isn’t what she’d call all these croissant crumbs in her hair. Rose has a hatha practice, a passion for the performing arts and a knack for cooking with kale. She received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College, as well as advanced training in improv from the Groundlings and Upright Citizen Brigade theaters. At night Rose can be found performing all around the city with various improv teams; in the daytime she goes to yoga, and writes and writes and writes. She lives with a delightful cat named Moon.

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