The Refinement Workshop this past weekend was a total success. We gathered a great group of dedicated yogis and had an interactive clinic where they got many of their questions answered.
I had originally put together this workshop because I found many students not showing up to class after having some sort of injury (typically something that happened outside of class). Having practiced yoga through a major knee injury, a back injury, a back spasm, and a hyper-extended elbow, I have a lot of useful experience with modifications that I wanted to share with the BYF students.
I have witnessed my body heal itself, time and time again. And although I don’t have any comparisons, I’m going to guess that my body healed better than it would have had I took to the couch for a couple months after each injury.
Here are four tips from the workshop that you can incorporate into your next class.
Move into each posture slowly. Moving slowly as you enter a posture gives you time to feel what is going on in the body. So many people rush into a posture and say, “Ouch! It hurts. I don’t like it.” If you move slow enough, you will be able to feel at what point a posture becomes extremely uncomfortable. Then you can back out slightly until you build the strength, endurance, and flexibility to go deeper, correct any misalignments, and until that place in the posture feels more comfortable.
Stay connected to your breath. This has a lot to do with the first tip as well. You can continue moving deeper into a posture until the point where you feel your breath getting caught up. But if you move too deep, too fast, you might miss it.
Make sure you’re uncomfortable, but not in pain. In the context of healing an injury, you can’t approach it with fear. Definitely approach with caution and mindfulness, but not fear. Don’t be afraid to get a little uncomfortable in class. Make sure you can feel the area stretching (I like to get to a point of “dull, achey stretching”), but it should never be a sharp, shooting pain. That is a sign that you’ve gone too far.
Check your EGO at the door. This is important for everyone, but especially if you’re working on healing an injury. Most of us feel “less than” if we have to perform a modified version of a posture, so we push through the pain to do the full expression. But there is nothing to be embarrassed about if you ever have to do less in yoga class. Keep in mind that the class is meant for healing and therapy. It’s not a competition!
Remember, nothing happens overnight. Be patient with yourself, especially during times when you are injured. Some of my injuries took a month to heal. The more serious ones took 4-6 months.