Yoga Teacher Training Week 3, Day 3: Oops I Did It Again

Yup. Strained my lower back. Kind of the common cold of Yoga, still unfortunate. Upside: I know why. Or, I have some good theories. Other upside: I’m going to do what I know it will take to heal it. Right away. Ice, rest, ibuprofen, gentle movement, and, eventually, increased abdominal strength, increased mat humility, mat self-awareness, mat-urity.

I was just feeling soooo good. So loose. I knew it was happening. I forgot to tuck it and suck it in upward-facing dog, a back-bend. A few times.

No. That’s not true. I didn’t “forget.” I knew what I was doing. I knew I was letting form go. I just hoped there wouldn’t be a consequence, wasn’t thinking about the consequences. Hello screaming back, hello my teacher, hello again, hello.

I knowingly sacrificed sucking and tucking in the backbend in order to keep up with a faster-paced sun salutation sequence than I can do responsibly. Faster than I can do responsibly with my current body, today.

I knew I was doing it. I thought about it in the moment. Something like, “Oooh didn’t tuck there,” and “Hmmm, seems a little momentum-y crunchy there.” But I kept going. I didn’t bridge the “noticing-I-wasn’t-taking-care-of-myself/doing-something-about-it” gap.

I let myself get caught up in the thrill, the rush, of zipping through, riding along with the pack, pushing it just a little bit further, playing it way too close to the edge. Fun!

And then the piper shows up to be paid. Not fun.

Part of me, the part of me that’s been in some kind of physical pain for decades, loves the push, the adrenaline, more than it dislikes the pain.

Why? And is that part of me the one who gets the keys? Even now? Could it be time to say self-harming behaviors aren’t fun? Could it be time to grow up?

The other reason I let this happen is I listened to the teacher’s cue about straightening the arms instead of my own years of experience that says for me, my body, keeping my arms bent is a good way to protect my lower back.

Basically, I gotta set it up so that I don’t bend as much as I can bend, because that’s too much. Just because I can doesn’t mean I should. There’s that lesson. Again.

I wanted to be good, I wanted her to think I was good, listening. I wanted to do it some objectively right way, closer to Yoga calendar picture right instead of right for me. I thought, “Maybe I’ll give it a whirl.”

And maybe I could have gone faster than usual and been ok, still doing the bent-arms thing. Or maybe I could have tried the straightened arms thing, taking it really slow. But the both, combined. Uh-uh.

So the good news is, I will recover. The good news is, I’m glad I got to see the over-push in the moment and realize it’s not a mystery how mat injuries happen. This ain’t my first rodeo.

And the mat is not a bucking bronco. I have some control over how I use my body on the mat. A lot, actually. It’s up to me what I do with all that opportunity.

Truth is, I enjoyed saying hello to the pusher inside, who I’ve been keeping locked in the basement for fear of what over-doing she’d drive me to. For fear of her driving me over a cliff. I’ve been scared of her, so scared I’ve been keeping it real teeny-weeny narrow.

But I let her out, and she did what she does. And I see that she’s actually kind of fun to have around. She’s got some spirit. I just can’t give her the keys. She needs supervision.

She’s like Ax and his buddies in a way, innocent, full of vigor, well-intentioned, hungry, hungry, hungry for acceptable channels of output and expression. “Hey guys, let’s move this pile of rocks!” Ok. “Hey Inner Pusher, let’s suck it and tuck it and bend those arms next time!” Ok.

I don’t have to be scared of anyone or anything. I definitely don’t have to be scared of any parts of myself. They can all come out and play but they gotta play nicely. And then there will be quiet time, snack, and a nap. I’m gonna keep going.

What’s fun for you?