In previous blogs I discussed distractions from training. Things which keep us from getting the most from our practice, and can lead to an end for a lifetime of health through practice.
The second most common reason for a break in training is an illness or injury. All human beings take ill on occasion, and if you practice yoga or martial arts there will be times when you injure a muscle or joint. This section on distractions from training deals
with continuing a lifetime practice by maintaining a level of training while ill or injured.
I recently have been experiencing a lot of congestion during my practice due to high cedar counts in Austin. The temptation was to take a day off and stay at home, but I forced myself to keep going to class.
Yoga classes are actually a really good thing to do when you have
allergies. Ujjayi breathing (making a sound like Darth Vader through the nasal passages) is particularly helpful if you are able to do it. Sun salutations invert the upper respiratory tract, then bring it back upright, which causes the congestion to move.
sed more on moving, punching, kicking etc… It was quite challenging, and I was definitely “not in the mood” for such activities. In martial arts I huffed and puffed on some of the most rou
tine moves. I grasped for air and panted like a dog most of the class. But at the end of the class much of the congestions hadcleared.
The more profound insights came from continuing my practice even though the body was
exhausted. I took a 9 hour yoga workshop with the amazing Shiva Rea on one of my worst days. Going into the workshop I was congested and generally tired and sluggish. I believe
I was also having a mild cold on top of allergies.
This is the point where the real practice began. I focused my will to push past the weariness. I made modifications to my postures to make them a little easier. Heat was building in my body. I monitored it closely to make sure that I didn’t overheat. I monitored my muscles to look out for cramps due to low oxygen intake. I took brief five second rests if I felt my breath getting out of control. I continuously pulled myself back into focus, exercising a calm but determined mind.
Now I don’t want to act like I did this perfectly. My friend looked over at one point and said “are you allright?” I was, but I sure didn’t look it. I was pushing myself right to the edge of my ability that day. This was hard to do because my edge was so much closer than usual. On a
good day I would have been challenged. On this day, round five was requiring extreme effort.
Oddly I began to get energized. I believe at this point I had purged all the congestion (as evidenced by the tissues filling a cup by my mat) and was able to do some powerful moves.
Mindor injury example:
Mindor injury example:I injured my large toe while kicking, and it gave me some insights into training through and injury.
1.Examine the cause: First, the mind body disciplines taught me to reexamine myself at the moment of injury. Why did I snag my toe? The short answer is that I was trying to impress the grand master and not being present with the moment. I learned a good lesson for that sore toe, focus on your practice. Good impressions may come later. Every injury is different, it may be you were practicing with a partner and not paying attention, or it may be you pushed to hard, or it may be you lacked some knowledge of your
2, Back off - The second insight came over the months of healing. I had to back off quite a few poses. I was able to do them, but it slowed healing of the toe, and thus, was counter productive. The body will heal itself, but not if you continue to aggravate the injury. So while I think training through an injury is good, I am not advising to put any strain on the injury. If your knee is hurt, don't put pressure on it until it heals. Come up high in your long stance; give it time to heal.
3. Learn from the injured body part - So if you can't use your shoulder, it is an opportunity to learn the different ways you use your shoulder. In my example, I learned a lot about the big toes importance. It is critical in guiding all motions of the foot, comparable to a rudder on a boat. It turns and the energy glides along with it.
5. Major injuries are more problematic. I don’t think a blog is a good place to deal with a major injury. In these case you have to work with a teacher and your doctor to come up with a good program. Some doctors will recommend you stop training. I advise dumping these types. A good doctor will tell you to modify (not stop) your practice so you can continue with a lifetime of good habbits, and let the injured limb heal. So if you break your ankle, work on the arms. If you break your neck practice breathing techniques. The practice of yoga, martial arts, or mind-body exercise allows for a broad range of activities suitable for any situation.