July 2, 2011

How Tiger Pose Ruined My Life. ~ Robert Allen

I thought I was doing fine.  Moving slowly in curls and turns, with the voice of Rainbeau Mars in the background, easing me through the asanas.  I was getting more flexible, with more even breathing, and thinking of god more than I usually did.  It was wonderful.  Even though I can’t even touch my toes.

I’m more or less new to yoga, I’ve only been practicing for a few years.  With lots of breaks in between. Lots.  I blame it on my bad hip, and laziness.

I often forget to make my daily yoga plan, until it’s 9pm and I think, “Did  I forget again?”

And I do generally forget the next day, and go through the same motions of promising to start “tomorrow.”

I won’t do yoga tomorrow though.  Why? Because I’m scared.

Recently, I injured myself in tiger pose.  As I lifted my knee toward my nose, I felt fiery pain shoot down my hip and low back.  So the seemingly impossible happened to me:  I damaged my body doing yoga.

All the practitioners who told me to slow down,and not to do postures that were too difficult were right. They reminded me to breathe and I said, “I am breathing, of course I’m breathing.”  But I did it my own way; and I got hurt.

When I started physical therapy for my injury, I was told to do yoga.

This only added to my ambivalence:  you can get hurt easily by doing asanas incorrectly, but when asanas are done correctly, yoga can take away the hurt.

“If it hurts you’re doing it wrong”, my physical therapist said. I didn’t listen to this either.

Now I live with fear of injury and yoga, fear of possibly having to be in bed for another week or two with a bum hip. I feel like I’m over yoga, and that fear permeates any thoughts of starting up again.

I’ll work on this fear thing, the fear of injury, and get myself back to the mat.

Maybe even heal my hip for good.

As for loosing laziness, it takes as much practice as committing to yoga.  Which I find kind of funny.  What I don’t find funny is pain.

How can I effectively practice without injury? Use yoga as medicine, and practice yoga without fear.

I’ll get there, but for now, I’ll stand tall with a straight back. Hold my core. And move with grace, and get the healing done.

I can handle that.

Robert Allen is a writer and teacher in the realm of relationships and the men’s movement. His articles have been distributed widely on the internet. He’s the author of the Integrity Pledge, a five part pledge for men who love women, and want to love them better.  He enjoys writing about yoga more than doing it. Robert lives in northern California with his wife and two daughters.

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