Your Injuries Don’t Make You Special

Do you attach yourself to your injuries? Have you ever let an injury define the way you walk through life? How about using an injury as an excuse for not making it to your yoga mat? This is a common occurrence in the yoga world. 

I used to be the queen of doing this! Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of physical ailments—back problems, shoulders out of alignment, wrist pain, pulled muscles, and stomach issues. When things felt funky, I was quick to view my world through the lens of pain and injury. I would attach myself to the discomfort and allow it to affect all aspects of daily living, including my yoga practice. There were even a few times when I stopped practicing yoga entirely, out of fear of injuring myself further. 

But it wasn’t just fear that stopped me in my tracks—it was the notion that somehow my injury was different from all others. My injury made me special and therefore it was okay to call it quits and not practice until I was in a better place. 

Looking back, that sounds like my ego hard at work!

A few years ago, I was practicing at Miami Life Center amidst an autoimmune disease flare that caused extreme pain and swelling in my right foot. After four weeks of heavily modified practice, Kino MacGregor approached me. She said that I wasn’t building up enough heat in my body with my modified practice and therefore was never going to heal my injury if I continued that way. She showed me different modifications that kept my foot immobile while making my practice slightly more vigorous in order to raise my body temperature. I was so annoyed when she did this! My first reaction was “What do you know? You’ve never experienced what I’m going through!” But something about her words resonated and I decided to take her advice. Within one month, my auto-immune disease subsided and my foot healed. Had she not given me a nudge to get my butt moving, I would have happily continued babying my injury and making excuses for why I couldn’t practice.

I’m not suggesting that we should ignore our injuries and plow through with reckless abandon; that’s irresponsible. Injuries need to be taken seriously and handled with deep awareness and care. That said, is it possible to properly take care of an injury while not letting it become the focal point of daily life and yoga practice? Can we respect our injuries while also respecting the practice and its ability to heal the body? I think so!

Your injuries don’t make you special; they just reaffirm the fact that you're human. Finding the balance between respecting your body and its limitations, while honoring your ability and practicing non-attachment is so important. Also, reminding yourself that yoga is a spiritual practice for everyone, regardless of physical condition. Healthy or broken, you always have the ability to practice, even if it’s just sitting on your yoga mat and taking a few deep breaths.

It’s inevitable that we will encounter injury. How we choose to handle it will make all the difference.