August 4, 2022

How an Injury Brought me Back to my Yoga Mat.

I started practicing yoga over a decade ago.

I loved the hot room, the loud music, feeling the freedom in my body as I moved.

I was a dedicated student of yoga and practitioner for several years. I’ve taken hundreds of hours of teacher trainings and workshops and started teaching power Vinyasa, Yin, and Yoga Nidra. At one point, I was teaching eight classes a week while also having a full-time job and managing a household. But I loved it, and the yoga filled my cup like nothing else could.

I continued at this pace for years and family life revolved around my yoga schedule.

I’m grateful to have found this path of yoga when I did. Yoga changed me. It changed the way I see the world and the way I show up. I’m a better wife, mother, and friend because of this practice.

I told myself that the reason I taught yoga was because it helped tether me to the practice. And that was sort of true. I kept wanting to learn so that I could teach better classes. I was in a constant cycle of learning and teaching. None of this was bad or wrong. I was happy and loved sharing my experiences with others.

After teaching for about five years, something in me started to shift. I stopped practicing yoga. I met the mat with so much resistance that I just completely stopped practicing. I stopped taking classes and didn’t roll my mat out at home. I tried doing 30-day yoga challenges and couldn’t muster up the will to finish. I enrolled in yoga programs that required a home practice and did the bare minimum with zero enthusiasm. The magic of yoga had lost its spark.

I was saddened. The practice that I loved so much that had literally changed my life was no longer filling my cup. I wasn’t practicing, and my teaching became hollow. I was just saying words that I could no longer feel. It’s the difference between just saying “I love you” out of habit versus looking someone in the eyes and saying, “I love you,” and feeling the words come from your bones.

Maybe this was the end of the road for me and my yoga journey—like an old lover that still has a spot in one’s heart. I know that yoga changed me and that I’m a better human because of our time together. But maybe it was time to move on and do something else.

So, I started to run again. I loved running when I was in college. It was how I processed schoolwork and wrote papers. Running made me feel free and moved the inertia out of my body, much the same way yoga did. If I was able to start my day with a run, my whole day felt better, and my sleep was amazing. I felt a whole new appreciation for putting the miles on my shoes. All I needed was my headphones, and I was out the door in a flash. Maybe I didn’t need yoga after all.

And then I had an injury. My right middle toe had nerve pain when I would run two miles. The pain would consistently come right at the two-mile mark. I thought it was my sciatic. I saw a physical therapist and spent almost six months trying to stretch my way through long runs. Many of the stretches the PT person gave me were yoga poses. I was familiar with the stretches.

It was frustrating because I would run two miles and need to stop to stretch my right hip and then I could run another two miles and stretch again. I stopped running altogether in fear that I would just make whatever I was aggravating worse. My toe pain hurt almost daily just walking around the house or if I stood too long or went for a long walk.

After almost a year of dealing with the foot pain, a different physical therapist gave me a series of hip mobility exercises that seemed to work for me. The pain in my right middle toe lessened and I started going on short little runs—mostly because I have a bit of fear around my toe pain, and I got seriously winded because I was not conditioned to running anymore. Everything was hard, and I developed plantar fasciitis in my left foot. Sheesh! I just couldn’t catch a break.

I kept doing the hip mobility exercises, which are also mostly yoga poses, and little by little, I started to notice something change. The flexibility started to improve and that reduced the pain in my feet. I would notice that on days that I stretched in the mornings, I felt better during the day. I also noticed that if I stretched every day that my body got stronger; I could twist deeper and increased my flexibility. I also noticed that I started to flow again, connecting breath and movement. Not every day. Most days, my practice is about getting my stretches in, and other days, it feels like a full-body prayer.

My practice has come back to me, and it also belongs to me.

I’m not practicing because I’m teaching. In fact, I haven’t taught a Vinyasa class in over two years.

I’m practicing because it serves me in the most basic, tangible way. I’m able to move the inertia out of my sleepy body first thing in the morning, and my whole day is better.

~

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