Studying the body and then getting an injury is like getting some free revision for me. When I sprained my ankle recently I was strangely delighted and intrigued to see my right foot and ankle blow up and ache.
After the initial shock (I stepped into drain if you must know) and visual assessment of the damages (torn leggings being the most severe part of the incident) I could relax and treat the cuts and bruises, I knew they would peak over the next week and then subside. Not all pain in the body is as straight forwards. I do appreciate that.
The next day I was walking around, standing on one leg and practicing yoga. I have no special genes like Wolverine for accelerated healing, I don’t routinely have a sauna, I don’t use hyperbaric chambers, cryotherapy or any other elite recovery protocol. Just your classic RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevate) method. And yoga.
You don’t always know what you’re training for. You might practice yoga regularly because you want to be more flexible, get stronger, because group classes are social, or because yoga improves the quality of your sleep. But you may not realise any or all of these reasons, means you’ll have an easier time when things go wrong.
Experiencing injury and adversity is going to happen. Experiencing those things when you’re mostly fit and well, makes them more manageable. A regular yoga practice trains you to have the parasympathetic nervous system as your default operator. In PNS state, the body rebuilds and restores. It doesn’t feel like it’s fighting fires so it can renovate parts of the body. Studies confirm that a regular yoga practice improves circulation and oxygenation of tissues. Yoga only does good. You might feel the benefits in the moment, but because there are so many good things happening, you can’t possibly feel them all. You just have to trust.
If your body is routinely stressed, your nervous system in a heightened state of sympathetic arousal, and you find it hard to sleep, recovery is slower. But… You do recover. Just know that. You’ll be just fine in the end. However, the sympathetic state (confusingly sounds nice doesn’t it, ahh so sympathetic) is catabolic, which means your body is busy diverting blood flow to crucial areas used for survival, and doesn’t have any time or resources to fix things.
Often people return to yoga because of a diagnosis or an injury, and the practice will welcome you back. It’s never too late. If that’s you; broken, injured, too inflexible… you kind of don’t have a choice but to get into yoga. Drains are everywhere, someone is going to step into them and it’s not going to be me again, I’ve had my turn.
And for those who don’t fit into that category; you get to practice yoga not from a place of pain. Your yoga motivation might come from a place of gratitude for your health and wellbeing. Your yoga might be a celebration of your body. Perhaps you’ll dedicate the time on your mat to others who aren’t there… yet.
September is a great time to return to class, it feels like a mini new year. You can always drop in (£10 per class), or purchase 10 consecutive weeks (6th September - 8th November for £90 per person or £75 per person when you attend with a friend). Click here for details and remember you can practice in person, or from anywhere, live via zoom.