Our recent Tea and Talk Satsang unpacked the topic of injuries, added a few cups of tea and refreshing conversation. We ended up with these thoughts on the relationship between yoga and injuries.

First thought.

Yoga works in layers and is always prompting the question “what’s behind this layer, and then what’s behind the next?” If there’s an injury in the skeletal layer, say with the shoulder joint, yoga wants to know what’s going on deeper. If you take yoga’s prompt and start to enquire about the layers, you might follow a shoulder injury to a fundamental lifestyle issue. Your lifestyle might not allow you to strike a balance between moving and being sedentary. Fix the shoulder and you’ll be fine for a while but fix the lifestyle issue and you’ll experience much deeper restoration.

Another example are tight hips, a common muscular layer injury. Yoga views the pelvis as a big storage area, holding onto emotional and physical trauma, sexual and childbirth scars. These traumas will continue to accumulate unless we regularly clear out and release what’s been captured.

Working on deeper layers takes time and the deeper you go the less you can outsource. It’s often a case of it getting really uncomfortable and cloudy before you break through into clarity.

Second thought.

The way yoga was originally designed is not often how we practice it. If we have knowledge of the system and practice with it in mind, our practice would start with very subtle movements, rotating and manipulating each and every joint, limb and muscle. First sitting, then standing, moving from top to bottom, side to side, moving slowly in every direction. This conscious rotation of movement allows you to paint a picture, clearly signposting the locations of tightness, discomfort, pain and injury. In the same way a meditation practice shows you the landscape of the mind, a physical asana practice shows you the state of the body.

The postures you then do specifically target the imbalances you’ve observed. Yoga thinks it absurd to practice a whole lot of forward bends if the issue lies with bending the spine backward. In this way our practice caters to what we need, not what we want or what we’re already good at.

Other gems that came up:

  • Nobody is as vested in your wellness as you are.
  • Most people feel inferior a lot of the time. This is especially true in the company of GPs, specialists and other health care providers. While they specialise in their field, they don’t specialise in you.
  • Long-term injuries do so much damage to our expectation of wellness. We start to accept that feeling like crap is normal.
  • We often don’t know which questions to ask. This makes getting the right answer near impossible. The question is just as important as the answer.

Some injuries are left unexplained for people. Sometimes no x-ray or scan can explain how something came to be. They walk away thinking that’s the end of the story, that’s how they are going to be for the rest of their days. If that’s the end of the injury story, if no amount of research and questioning can give you answers, then what’s the start of the next story? The next phase of becoming friends with our injuries and inviting them home for tea.