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Practicing With An Injury

Maybe it’s a short term thing, maybe a long term thing, but if you’ve got an injury getting on your mat is no easy task.

There you are, utilising the body for your yoga practice and there the body is holding you back. Or is it? What if injuries were actually our greatest teacher? What if learning how to incorporate a particular asana into your body, rather than how to push and pull your body into a particular asana was of far greater worth? After all, a yoga practice is about more than just the material realm of where ones limbs are; and far more about what’s going on when your limbs are or aren’t in said places.

As a teacher once said to me as I sweated away under the Indian sun, “who’s driving?!” He wasn’t talking about going for a coconut after practice, he was getting at the mental process behind wanting to do the asana. What was it that was telling me to push? Who was it? Is it me? What is me? What is the self?

When we have an injury – a limitation – we have the opportunity to ask this type of question with much more fervour than usual. For, how far are we willing to act like we don’t have a limitation just to “do” some asana?! Are we willing for the injury to exacerbate? Do we really think hurting ourself more as we squeeze our limbs into certain positions is going to help anything?!

For as long as your see a particular pose as some edifice of perfection that you must reach, you will continue to be on a path of attachment. Attaching to doing the pose a certain way, attaching to being a certain way.

Even Sharath Jois (the current figurehead of Ashtanga Yoga) recently wrote an article about the dangers of going too far with ones asana practice. ‘You can realize and understand many things through asana practice when you do it consciously. But doing it again and again and again, and overdoing it, will damage your senses and your body. It will give you lots of injuries.’

Asana is just part of our yoga practice, it is a tool for an end. Not the end itself. With this understanding, get on your mat and observe what happens. Not just with your limbs, but with all of you. See it. Watch it. Witness it. When you engage in this type of asana practice, then you are truly doing your Sādhanā.

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