Good Morning Readers!
So, as last was the official start of school for those in the northern USA (most of us in the hot states started a couple weeks ago), it is the official end of the “Summer Challenge,” that I wrote about in June and July. Now is the time to reflect on your progress, or lack thereof, with objectivity to do the most important thing there is to do in life: learn/grow. I’ve managed to tear away some time from my high school babies to compose this short blog, then I am back to a paper grading fool.
Just as a reminder: I challenged my readers to pick 2 things to focus on during the summer months within their physical or mental yoga practice. Mine started out as being 1) Core awareness while in postures and 2) Monkey Pose. Whelp, as you might’ve expected, fate had other plans as July crept into August, and my 2 foci shifted. Isn’t that always the way it happens? The best laid plans…
I tweaked my knees one day while doing some yin yoga because I couldn’t sleep. As a side note, I have also been a garden-work fiend this summer and have spent most of my days in a variation of yogi-squat, which I bet contributed as well. For those who remember my pictures from July, I love reverse triangle pose, because it feels sooooo good on my IT band (the connective tissue between the hip and the knee along the outside of the thigh). Therefore, I was spending some time playing around with my postures in my yin practice and was doing a pose that felt good in a similar way to reverse triangle, but most likely was the straw that broke the camel’s back, for my patellas.
Now I, *knock on wood*, have had a multitude of injuries throughout my years, due to being a clumsy, milk-avoiding, celiac-diseased girl, who definitely needs to spend time on muscle strengthening and paying attention while walking across flat surfaces. However, I have been blessed with a knee-injury free life, until now. I have been spoiled and even now, sitting in my bed with a bag of frozen peas atop the bendy party in my leg, I do realize how lucky I am, that the partial tear in my quadriceps tendon right above my left knee, could have been much worse. I married into a family that has a history with knee injuries, those much, much more serious than mine, and so, I went into overdrive with worry, because I know how long the recovery can be from their stories.
And so, my original two goals for yoga changed, without me asking them to. (Damnit) I had to learn the importance of rest, recovery and listening to my body AND have had to begin altering my views on certain postures for my future. I hate that an injury is what it took for me to research some new modifications, but I hope that as a yoga teacher, I can appreciate it more often now, when a student asks for a change because they are in pain. Once my doctor gives me the OK, Monkey Pose and I will start from scratch again- but at least I have the benefit of an entire summer of playing around to know what helped me progress the most.
My reflections for you are below. I’d love to hear about your post summer musings about your yoga very much.
1. Rest, Recovery and Listening to your Body: I’ve heard literally every single yoga teacher say this at some point during class. I say it. However, sometimes we need to hear it when we shouldn’t be on our mat (or treadmill, or whatever). For those of us who use exercises, like asana, to help deal with stress, this is a tough pill to swallow. However, RICE (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation) is what most doctors will tell you is all that can be done for certain injuries (mine included). Massage, plenty of hydration, epsom salts, and of course, safe movements to prevent atrophy are also on the list of slow, but worthwhile healing methods. Yoga off the mat should always be something that you practice, it just sucks when it needs to be combined with pain and frustration. However, allow yourself to recuperate, because you’d be a whole lot more pissed off, with more pain, if you were to strain something again, because it needed more TLC.
2. Your knees are vital to the most basic functions we have in life (walking, sitting down on the toilet, proposing, etc.) We take them for granted. Take it from someone who has (unfortunately) most likely broken more bones, sprained more whatevers, and torn a few more muscles than you: whenever an injury is on the lower, standing half of your body, it is even more annoying. Those of us blessed with standing motor function forget how much our body weight, gravity and all other forces, act upon these parts each day. This is why proper alignment and (whadda ya know!- one of my original goals-) core strength and activation, are so important during asana practice. You don’t need to be an Iyengar Yogi when you align, but the knee over the ankle is where never to get sloppy! Activate your thighs and hamstrings in deep bends, to avoid over stressing the knee joint. I’ve found and used the below modifications to protect my knee- and you should too, even if your knees are currently happy campers!
Some good reads:
Big time athletes: http://sportskneetherapy.com/benefits-of-yoga-for-knees/
For a more comprehensive list of postures I am modifying, because my knees twinge: http://www.yogajournal.com/category/poses/contraindications-modifications/knee-injury/
It depends on your type of injury. I’ve been avoiding the really deep knee bendy postures I could do before (No Hero’s pose, King Pigeon or Lotus Tree for me for a while), but I am still lucky that a simple blanket under the knee when in modified crescent, feels good. Wear a brace and RICE immediately after practice, whether or not your knee feels OK! Always talk to your Dr. first!
Namaste! Thanks for joining me this summer!