June 7, 2010

Limits versus Expectations. ~ April Armistead

Each time I turn my cell phone it plays a little greeting message that I set up, and I like to keep it really optimistic. Originally it said: “You Are Awesome!”, but then I got over it and wanted to make it something a little more substantial. I’ve had the same one for a while now because there isn’t a single day that it doesn’t suit me.

“It’s Better to Injure your Ego than your Body.” – Jason Crandell

On the very last day of my yoga teacher training I was in a car accident. It actually made me miss what sounded like one of the coolest days of training and my Jeep was totaled. From that accident I received the seriously humbling gift of a hurt back. I basically had to just lay there and take pain killers (which I hate doing) for the first few months. After spending months working my ass off in training, I was suddenly rendered physically incapable of doing all these amazing things I had just learned to do. It was a frustrating experience to say the least.

When I finally did get to start practicing again it was a slow process. I was, without question, an absolute beginner again. It’s been years now, but my back is still a chronic issue. It is easily re-injured and requires plenty of warming up before I do anything too crazy. I have always been a person that is all about pushing myself as far and as fast as I can. I have had to learn to treat my body like something that will break. This little cell phone reminder has helped me practice acceptance toward my limitations–which has in turn allowed me to push far beyond what I was originally accomplishing. Now I can do many things I had never been able to do before – simply by being patient with myself (even when I didn’t want to be).

Anyone can benefit from this wisdom. To do yoga is to test your limits–to find your edge. Many people push themselves too far too soon and end up going past that edge which results in injury. Whether it’s trying to do a drop back in the middle of the room too soon or pulling themselves into a deeper forward bend than their hamstrings are ready for, people do this all the time. A month from now you probably won’t even remember how pitiful your forward bends were today, but if you tear a hamstring it’s a very long and slow process of healing. You’ll also heal up with tighter hamstrings than before!

Tough love is for your ego. Be gentle with your body.

April is a full time yogini and vinyasa flow teacher. For more unsolicited advice and ridiculous optimism follow her on Twitter @HeartsExpanding and on her blog http://HeartsExpanding.blogspot.com .

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