Ashtanga, Ego & Injury.

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DON’T GET CAUGHT UP AND MISS THE BEST BITS.
Any one of us who have been through some sort of injury or set back in our practice,or a sport for that matter, will of course testify that they learnt from it and came out stronger.
Great advice, and advice I myself have given lots of times, as it seems to have happened lots of times!!!!!
This is all very well and bloody lovely when you are out the other side feeling better and your mind is all good again, but what the hell do you do when your in the middle of it and you feel like your world is falling apart!!!! Because that’s what we need to deal with, not someone telling us “oh it’s all gonna be ok in a little while”.
Ok, so it’s a very western problem for sure, but we are westerners and like it or not this is a real problem in our heads!!!!
Hopefully,if you indulge me in my rambling story, it may help a few people with a few situations.

I have had a very busy year,right up until I came away on my winter break. I have been lucky enough to have had a very busy season at the surf shop, also busy with yoga teaching, more students coming through and people getting more advanced, it’s brill, plus the last eight weeks before we left were spent daily building the new yoga room, mine and my sisters dream, and a place of our own for all of you to come and practice and feel part of.
With all this going on, practice has had to be at around 4.30/4.45AM for about 1hr 15mins. Moon days and Saturdays have been appreciated!!!!
And despite a few little lower back niggles, which are just a part of my life, I have had a pretty injury free year and practice has felt good.
My idea for when I was away was to support Lucy doing her triathlons, slow things down a little and slowly slowly enjoy doing a whole practice daily including all my pranayama.
Unfortunately within two weeks I had developed a pain in my chest that restricted my breathing and my arm was hurting that much I was not sleeping and three of my fingers were numb whilst another had pins and needles!!!!
“As long as I can practice it will get better” I told myself, and to be honest, for a very short time after practice it was the best it had felt all day.
After six days of this and still not a lot of sleep, my wife (who had probably had more than enough of my whinging) said she knew of this guy who treats a lot of the sports people here and they say he is a fantastic body worker I think you should give him a try.
After the initial 1hr consultation apparently I had two ribs out =chest pains and breathing problems….disc bulge on C4/5=dead arm pain….and the numbness, and a lack of mobility in my neck which just hurt! Apparently I must have pushed my body a little hard this year!!!!!
Normally when I get my lower back problems I am aware of exactly what it is, so I reign back my practice accordingly, it’s still a good practice, and then it’s slowly built back up until my back is stable again. Just like many,it’s part of your practice to deal with it, so you do!
I thought this would be much the same. After the first treatment I asked the doctor if it was ok to do my yoga practice, (more out of courtesy really and to cover myself with my wife…. I had no doubt I would be practicing what ever his answer!!!!) As luck would have it he rates yoga and said yes, but please really gently.
Now this is where things started getting difficult. When we practice yoga for quite a few years we become pretty good at seeing emotions come and go, watching them rise, seeing them for what they are and dealing with them before they give us to many problems. We watch the mind and try not to get attached to ideas or concepts etc etc, so the little ‘achievement imp’ that always used to be there on my shoulder loud and proud has been quiet for a long time, or so I thought.
I had nearly a month of ice packs, heat packs and clicking and crunching my back into shape, I knew everything in my body would be slightly unstable so to reign in the practice as you always do.
Easy.
No,not so easy!
You see, whilst I had thought I had gotten rid of my little friend the ‘achievement imp’, all he had done is to go covert on me! Whilst he was not in full sight, he was working away, like the little demon he is, on my subconscious. Building up ideas of exactly how things were gonna be, and he did one hell of a job!
Because when I went to slow the practice down a bit and use it to heal, out he came…….
“Come on we ain’t got time for this, we are going to Maui in a month we were gonna be flying by the time we got there”
“It’s been two days surely you can start putting your leg behind your head now”
“Go on, try third series, you can’t let it slip”.
This daily battle went on for about a week and a half.
Then one morning I stood at the front of my mat,even before the chant, feeling a right failure.
So mentally I took imp boy by the scruff of the neck and gave him one he’ll of a shake (in a compassionate yogic fashion obviously!)
I let everything go.
No more thoughts of how it was going be, so let’s do this.
A wonderful softness came back to my practice.I could see again all the good bits, just enjoying it all for what it was.
From there, over the weeks, the softness has allowed me to not only recover, but feel good again. Of course imp boy gives it the big one now and then but I have a few extra tools to deal with him now! And I’m on to his antics!
This is not just about yoga, this is about what yoga teaches us on the mat to relate to life.
We all have our little imp. How many times do we fall out with people because they do things that you consider rude, out of order, not the correct way to behave as a friend/ brother/sister/workmate? Whatever!
We fall out with ourselves as well because we are not performing as we thought we should.
Who put that idea or opinion there?
Have you really thought or considered it?
Or is it just `well that’s the way it is and that’s that.`
Before you fall out with someone, or suffer needlessly, really ask yourself, am I actually right? Where did this opinion come from?
Am I acting out of habit?
Let it become a habit for you to check every time. More often than not the old imp planted those idea’s there years ago and we have believed them for so long that we know no different!!!!
It’s so easy to miss all the good stuff when we are caught up in how life should be.
I would like to thank imp boy for the lessons he gives me, even though we both know this is not the last dance we will have!!!!!!

Neil

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