Whether you are a complete beginner to yoga or, have enjoyed a regular practice for some time, an injury can be a cause of great frustration. Depending on how the injury occurred, you may feel angry, frustrated and even a little afraid especially if the injury is severe. It’s important to work with your body to aid healing. Anger and fear can serve to work against you, and you may feel a strong sense of frustration and push your body too far, not content to rest and let the healing process take place naturally.
Walking too far if you have injured your leg, ankle or foot is only going to aggravate the injury, similarly, a back injury may be crying out for you to rest and to support it, so constantly trying to force your body to carry on is not going to help. Whatever the injury, you have to accept that it exists. Because our lives are so demanding, we feel a sense of pressure at making it into work, to carry on as before because no one can take our place. But, your health is far more important and nurturing your body sometimes is necessary and must take precedence.
The most important thing to do after any injury is to rest:
- Take time out to contemplate what happened
- Consider the extent of the damage
- Turn off negative thought patterns
- Practise the complete breath and let go of tension
- Meditate each day and visualise inner healing
If you are lucky, healing will be quick, but if you are facing weeks or even months of recovery time, it’s vital that you learn to let go of feelings of impatience and control any negative self-doubts. I know how hard it can be to simply stop, but if you work alongside the injury, recognise it, and encourage healing by promoting good practises such as meditation, and focus on your breathing, planning out some gentle yoga postures, things will start to improve. You can turn your attention inwards and intuitively listen for any problems, believe me, your body will be trying to tell you what’s wrong and what it needs, you just need to tune out all the negative chatter and listen.
Yoga is about working with the body and not against it and this means utilising some gentle stretches, working on the areas that do not hurt and only very gentle moving the problem areas. If it hurts, stop. Your body is telling you to not move.
There will come a point when your body has healed enough to allow for gentle movements and this is the time to take up your yoga sessions again, being careful to not overwork the injured area.
- Try some simple stretches and enjoy the sensation of movement. You may feel stiff and the movements unnatural for a while but that’s ok.
- Within the postures, concentrate on the breath and use it to help your muscles stretch into the posture.
As the tension eases on the exhalation, give into the feeling as your body suddenly relaxes and you move deeper into the hold. You should always focus on the area that is being worked but especially so following an injury. Push all other thoughts to the side and consider what is happening to your body within each posture. Visualise a healing blue current pulsating throughout your body and bathing the injury in glowing light, imagine torn muscles or ligaments knitting back together, or a swollen joint easing as the pressure from the swelling starts to dissipate. Whatever the injury, I have found that sending positive healing energy towards it while deep in my yoga practice really works.
If you work with yoga and your body in this way, you will promote natural healing and recovery will be much faster.