The Comeback Kid
It seems crazy, but just 6 months ago I could barely run 3 miles on a treadmill without feeling some serious sensation in my left glute. In September of 2016, I injured my ass. Yes, it is a weird injury to have. Yes, it is ironic because if you know me personally, like IRL, you know that I have a booty for days. I tried to get it massaged out because I thought it was just really tight from all of the training I was doing. My ass WAS very tight, but the injury was more serious than just tight muscle.
For four months, every single step I took hurt.
I had to chassé across intersections or from one end of the classroom to another.
I couldn't run, which broke my heart more than any man ever could.
I couldn't bare weight on my left leg without it collapsing, which meant I couldn't do most of the strength training that I loved.
I had to modify my yoga practice like crazy, which meant leaving out almost all of the postures that bring me the most joy.
So how did I cope during the injury and how did I come back?
Besides crying many salt tears, I had to SLOW DOWN.
I’m a Gemini and so I essentially take in information very fast and flit from thing to thing without being overwhelmed. I thrive in high stimulation zones. Slowing down is HARD for me. It feels unnatural to slow. This amazing thing happened to me when I was in the darkest part of my injury. I learned how to pause.
I am so used to running, and going, and trying, and doing. This injury was the universe reminding me that you can DO TOO MUCH. My body, mind, heart, energy, were asking for a break and I had to be brave enough to pause and feeling everything more than I normally do. The doing, for me, was a distraction from all of the feelings and energetic shifts that were happening deep below the superficial layer of self.
DOING VS NON-DOING.
Let me break it down for you. DOING is trying, pushing, never being satisfied, forcing, efforting. NON-DOING is allowing, softening, ease. You can live your life in both ways. In fact, like most things, balance is the key. Non-doing doesn't mean stop and just pray that everything in life turns out the way you want it to. Non-doing says, these are the actions that I know I must take, but how can I do them with more ease? How can I be softer with myself and the people/ideas/situations that I care about? How can I allow instead of holding so tight I strangle my creativity and the energy of everything around me?
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: I've always felt that I was a Pitta - super firery, always doing, impatient. Then, I got injured and I figured out that there is more to life than doing (mainly because I physically couldn't keep doing). In fact, when I started to do a little bit less, suddenly the things that I really cared about, both in my career and my personal life, got more vibrant. Things started working out the way I envisioned them with MUCH LESS stress and fewer freak outs. I was directing my energy and attention in a way that was filled with intention. All I had to do was LESS.
Big miracles are things like a baby being born, finding out your cancer is gone, finding that your home was left untouched from the tornado that destroyed every other home on your block.
Those things are easy to recognize.
It's easy to forget about the small things.
Tiny miracles are things we tend to forget about like the sun rising, or a leaf falling in your lap, or a kiss from someone you love, or waking up and being able to breathe.
These are everyday occurrences that take for granted. But they are the things that bring vibrancy to our lives!
PRACTICAL APPLICATION: When I couldn't move and experience the breadth of life I normally did, suddenly everything I saw and touched became a moment of celebration. I get to experience this. I'm well enough to feel what's happening. I can walk around the Christmas market in the snow and feel the magic of New York at Christmas. I turned my gratitude lists into tiny miracles list. Especially when I was feeling like there was no point, especially when I saw no way of every getting better, I wrote down all of the miracles around me.
"It's a miracle that ________ because ___________."
The spiritual stuff is great. It really vibes with me because I am a yogi and I know that the outer world is an expression of the inner world. I know that there is more to yoga than practicing asana on a mat. Yoga is how you SHOW UP in your life. That doesn't mean I don't use recovery tools and smartly take care of the physical part of my injury as well.
YOGA TUNE UP BALLS & FOAM ROLLER
These are the tools that I used to help heal me. Yoga Tune Up balls are a softer version of a tennis ball. I literally came to the studio hours early to roll my butt out before every class. While the yoga tune up balls are very pinpointed and specific, the foam roller does a great job of facilitating myofascial release in broader strokes. My massage therapist and my own knowledge of the body helped me figure out the precise areas to roll out.
DHARMA WHELL & BLOCKS
Because I had to modify my practice A TON, I picked out a few props that could help me. I mainly used these to help with supported heart and hip openers. Because I couldn't flow like I normally do, I got interested in different ways to practice beyond my habitual.
It's great for the mind and body. These practices involve one about 5 or 6 postures where the body is support by props. You hold the postures for a LONG ASS TIME. It can be overwhelming for the mind at first. It can also feel like a TON of sensation in the parts of body that are not used to letting go, but the benefits are worth the moments of discomfort.
I'm lucky that my background in personal and group fitness as offered me a ton of knowledge in terms of coming back from injury. If you are coming back from an injury, be prepared to be HUMBLED. You won't be able to lift as heavy, range of motion will be compromised. Come back slow. If you do too much too soon, you could re-injure yourself. Consistency is key. Keep going, slow and steady. Have a team and a trainer who understands both the physical and psychologic challenges when coming back from injury.
Much of my identity in my adult life is built around movement. So, who I am when I am not running, literally and figuratively? One of the reasons why I love running is because I feel like I can leave problems, regrets, things that I don't like, behind. That became less metaphorical the more I ran. I literally ran away from problems. I'm great at avoiding things. When I was FORCED to be still with myself, I found out exactly what I was running from: thoughts and feelings that told me I was only "worth it" based on achievements. Don't get me wrong, achievements and goals are awesome. BUT THEY DO NOT DEFINE YOU. I am just as great a person and yogi when I step back into chaturanga instead of jump. I am still as baller when I run at an 8:30 min/mile pace as when I run a 7:45 one.
EGO is the thing that says, "do more. Be more. Try harder. Push. Push. Push." Because to the ego you are not good enough if someone else is better than you.
WISDOM is the thing that says, "today, I am here. I will be different tomorrow. I will be different in a breath. And I AM OKAY WITH THAT." Because wisdom knows exactly when to push and when to soften.