Wednesday, February 18, 2009

When a sneeze isn't just a sneeze

Early last week I was at home getting ready for an evening yoga class and I sneezed - not a particularly huge or jarring sneeze - but one that made a difference none-the-less. This little nonchalant sneeze made my lower back snap... I made it to the couch but not to yoga...

Immediately my thoughts went to how this pain in my back was going to limit me - my weekend job, a weekend visitor, all the yoga practice I have come to adore and with all of this came an awareness of a certain level of attachments... oh the lessons of the sneeze and the injured back was upon me.

Lucky for me I have two very responsive yoga teachers and they came to my aid as soon as I asked. From one I learned modifications that allowed me to gently move my body but not injure myself any further. From the other I was given the gift of healing hands as she worked on my lower back and identified the source of the injury - a very inflamed S.I. joint which I learned later is very common in the yoga practice. I was advised to take it easy and heal and to take a few days off of my yoga practice. This made me sad at first and I felt myself resistant to the advice... hmm?

Had I become attached to the outcome of my yoga practice? Had I begun to delight too much in how my practice was progressing - my standing postures becoming stronger, my forward bends getting longer and lower - and forgotten the real reason I was going to the mat every day? Had the ego come into play or had I simply forgotten to give my lower back support during all this movement? Or was my root chakra trying to tell me something - to get back to the source, to connect with what this is all about?

A few simple words of advice rang in my ears - one was that yoga was a practice you cannot master, you practice the practice. The other was said with a huge smile by my Ashtanga teacher Bobbi when she saw I was struggling with this new set of limitations... "non-attachment" (add big smile here). It was all true and I relaxed and happily practiced a very modifed yoga for many days.

That little sneeze served as a huge catalyst for lessons on many levels. That every day on and off the mat has its own set of limitations and challenges. We can chose whether to soften and learn from life or we can struggle against the flow and miss all the good stuff.

Going back to my practice the first few days after the pain stopped I found myself very cautious and had to break away from the limits I was setting for myself. I found myself not really trying and using my injury as a reason. I had to find my edge again, even though the edge has changed and will continue to day after day. I am happy to report I can forward bend again and have a new respect for up-dog. I find myself more conscious of my breath and my movement - linking them all together and creating a prayer out of this yogic dance. Finding my own flow within the larger one.

Namaste ~ b
Photo by Cali McCullough

No comments:

Post a Comment