Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thrown off the mat/INJURY: What is Practice?

I sort of feel like I'm the outside looking into my practice today. It's sort of weird.

I haven't practiced in over a week. I've taught, but I have not actively engaged in MY practice of yoga.

What does that mean, though? My practice? I can get all lofty and trippy and see my entire LIFE as my PRACTICE. "It's all yoga, baby, " they say. And it is - truly. But it's ALL just about EVERYTHING, isn't it? So let's narrow it down a little bit.

I haven't been on my mat by myself, or in a class as a student, or in front of a video or YogaGlo, in over a week. Why? Because I'm INJURED. And I hate it. I really, really hate it. Ever since Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu I've had this little, faint rumble in my right shoulder. It's always been just to the left of the curve of the blade, and very deep. I've had two massage therapists since then tell me my muscles are supple everywhere BUT this location, where it feels "stringy and clumpy." Someone mentioned rhomboid connection once. I've tried researching it but I really can't quite figure out what the anatomy is or what the problem might be. (I do hyper extend my right elbow, which I feel might be related to pressure on my right shoulder in asana practice, though.) In any event, this deep pain really never inhibited me in my practice or in my teaching whatsoever. In fact, I never felt pain often, or doing anything with my shoulder specifically - it doesn't hurt in downdog or chaturanga or handstand, etc. (Even now.) However, in deep forward folds - especially seated forward folds (specifically in upavista konasana, actually) I'd feel this dull, aching pain deep in my upper back, again, right underneath the shoulder blade in between the blade and my spine.

After a spectacular weekend at my alma mater for my Chamber Singers reunion, I got back home deflated and depressed. I struggle deeply with mourning the end of experiences - especially experiences that have incredibly deep meaning for me, and that either can't be repeated or won't be repeated for an extensive period of time. The second day I was home, I woke up in excruciating pain in my shoulder - right where the deep, dull, pain has popped up for months - that was traveling up my neck and making it impossible to turn my head. Kind of like a crick in the neck on a massive amount of steroids.

Needless to say, the six days since haven't left me in any shape to practice yoga, especially not when I read that if it's a ligament strain or tear, the last thing I need to do is stretch it more before it can heal. So I've been walking some (which I read helps the body pump blood through the inflammatory healing response and encourage it to go faster) and doing some pranayama (breathing) and meditation, but no asana - which I know, for a lot of people, is the only definition of yoga that computes.

And it's really gotten me thinking about what, exactly, my yoga practice is to me. Or at least, I realized I was thinking about exactly that, today. Getting forced off the mat - at least in terms of my vigorous, challenging, very physical-focused practice - has almost put me square in the MIDDLE of my mat in terms of real contemplation.

A possible good thing?

ps - any ideas/advice about my shoulder, I'll happily listen to. It's feeling much better as of today, but it's still frustrating. Not exactly sure what to do.

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