If you’ve ever been injured, on or off the mat, and concern over how and when to return to practice, read on!
It is hard to give a basic recommendation applicable to everyone, as injuries both type, severity and duration will vary drastically from person to person and situation. However, I’d like to offer some great tips to help you maneuver through the return to practice.
Regardless of the type of injury you might have sustained, it is best to try and return to some type of practice as soon as possible. I’ll use myself as an illustration in several of the scenarios that have really happened to me :)
In 2007 I broke my right foot (four bones to be exact). They wanted to put me through surgery and I wasn’t interested. I wore a booty for 4 weeks and took that time off of practice. After four weeks I returned to the doctor and he said the bones were not healing at all, I needed surgery. I was so frustrated, I was missing my practice so badly, in pain, struggled to do my job and daily activities. I left the office and removed my booty and started to hobble around and returned to my yoga mat modifying the practice a lot but doing whatever I could to ‘practice.’ Another four weeks went by of daily asana and weight bearing on and off the mat and I went back to my doctor and magically my bones had healed and I was good as new…..Ahem, I do give credit to the asana practice for this. A lot of credit.
In 2010 I gave birth to my son Kaiden. Guruji and Sharath encourage women to take off three months from practice after giving birth. The first six weeks after I had Kaiden I was up all day and night with my little angel and that was my yoga. At six weeks I had to return to teaching and I did begin doing a lite practice again so as not to hurt myself teaching. I started very slowly. Adding in pose by pose until I’d re-built my practice.
This year I had shoulder surgery to mend a tendon that ripped from the bone due to a bone spur. It was a pretty intense survey and I had to take a full 8 weeks away from practice and have recently started asana again but with a lot of restrictions given my shoulder is still healing. I can do everything except low planks and vinyasa and I’m so grateful to be able to do some asana now.
Three different scenarios altogether. Three different reasons for having to take time off, three different ways to return, three different everything. The one constant is a desire to get back to the mat, a desire to re-integrate practice into my life. That’s the main thing you need. Desire to return to your mat. If you had hurt yourself during yoga practice or during an adjustment there will certainly be some fear to face and overcome about hurting yourself on your mat. If you are hurt or dealing with something that didn’t happen on the yoga mat you still face fear but not about re-hurting yourself through yoga.
My best advice to you is this: If you are seeing a doctor and he gives you guidelines/restrictions you should follow them. Prudent approach is best when dealing with an injury.
Speak to your teacher at length about what is going on with your body so he/she can best help you modify your practice.
Go very slowly in the beginning, resume asana like you did when you first came to mysore classes; adding one pose at a time, day by day. This way, your body can slowly re-adapt to the postures, and if there is any pain from practice you can ascertain what posture was the culprit and perhaps further modify or avoid that pose until you are back to 100%.
Trust yourself and what you intuition is telling you regarding practice and pain and how far you should go.
Never push too hard, do too much….remember you are healing and this yoga method can assist in the healing process if you let it by not trying to return to full practice too soon.
Do not allow yourself to get frustrated that you are having to ‘start over’ or have taken so many steps backwards, or aren’t where you used to be….You must keep focused on the fact that the practice can help the healing and know that you’ll be back to where you were in your practice soon enough.
Remember that your yoga is a mirror of your life, on and off the mat. You are where you are, and loving kindness towards yourself is the best approach.
This practice is a lot of hard work, mentally, physically and spiritually. Don’t ever give up on it or yourself and remember you are worth all the copious benefits it adds to your life! Happy practicing!