I Have an Injury-Can I do Yoga?
Broken foot? Torn rotator cuff? Some other injury? Injuries are no fun. They impede your life, no doubt, which can really affect not only your physical health, but your emotional and mental health as well. Not being able to feel like yourself and do your normal activities, including yoga, is a bummer.
There’s good news though! You can continue your practice. You can do yoga, it just might look different. Yoga is more than the physical postures-it is a journey into the self. It is a discovery and examination of our nature and our interaction with the world around us. Asana is just one of the vehicles; however, asana (the poses) are not necessary to be doing yoga nor to continue that journey.
So, can you do yoga with an injury?
Yes! Begin delving deeper into meditation, into philosophy, and into your readings of yogic principles. Work with your teacher and your community on more advanced pranayama i.e. breathing techniques to manage the stress that accompanies injuries. Insofar as movement, depending on your injury and with approval from your care provider, you can still practice asana too. Restorative yoga varieties where the bolsters and blocks support and hold you in a gentle pose are generally appropriate. Classes marketed to seniors are also often a good fit for those with healing injuries. If you are working with a physical therapist continue practicing the exercises they give you in place of asana while breathing with purpose at the same time, and creating intentional awareness of your body.
Try these 3 things:
Full body breath-lie down and fully expand your lungs, ribs, and chest. Feel the fullness in your body as your chest lifts, and as you exhale, release any tension. Imagine it leaving the body and let go of the desire to hold onto stress, tension, etc. Each time your ribs expand, repeat a mantra or prayer that speaks to you.
Reclined fish-place pillows underneath your back so that they create a mild arch/stretch while simultaneously creating more space in the lungs. Place additional pillows under the legs if you have a hip or foot injury, and under the elbows if you have a shoulder injury. Get comfortable. Stay in the pose as long as it feels good. This is a good chance to listen to your preferred guided meditation or to enjoy the silence.
Pick up a new hobby that encourages your inner crafter, artist, or gardener to come out-I am a huge believer that art is yoga and yoga is art. By nature, art/crafts/gardening requires exploration in mindfulness and comfort in the slowness, patience, and complete equanimity of results, instead concentration on the present process.
Know that time is your friend and there are wonderful lessons to be learned in slowing down and altering our expectations of how quickly healing should happen. Give yourself grace and appreciate that yoga is a multi-faceted and ancient way of life that helps us live a little happier!