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  • Tracey L. Kelley

Injuries & Yoga: Thoughtful Practice

Updated: Apr 27, 2020


A couple of weeks ago, I slipped on carpet while demonstrating Triangle Pose for students. It wasn't my studio, so perhaps I didn't dig in with my toes enough. I've practiced on a number of surfaces: mat, hardwood floor, tile floor, rocks, grass -- even a balance beam. I'm usually stable.


But this was just one of those things -- and when I heard the loud POP and felt pain in my behind and down right my leg, I immediately knew I'd be in for a long recovery -- easily a couple of months, if not longer. Three years ago, I injured a hamstring (or all three - I never really knew) in my left leg, and it stunted my full yoga practice for about 18 months. All the lunges, forward bends, cross-legged folds, even Downward Dog -- all modified to accommodate the gradual healing. And that's exactly what I'm doing now for my right leg -- along with frequent icing, massage, and rolling.

I'm still practicing, but thoughtfully, slowly, more deliberately. Why not just take a few weeks off? Because I need subtle movement and the breath to make me feel complete in the day. I need the the quiet. I need to feel clear when I rise up after Savasana. I need to know that certain injuries can be accommodated but mentally, I'm still capable of movement. I need to allow for acute awareness of my physical space and recognize what my body is trying to tell me. Minor injuries remind us what our yoga practice is really all about. If it's only acrobatics, then the physical loss of form may be disappointing. But if it goes deeper -- if it adds to your life in other ways -- and if your doctor says it's okay -- keep practicing. Slow down. Take your time with the breath. Ask your teacher for the right modifications. Listen to the subtleties. You might discover a new dimension of practice not previously revealed.

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