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October 13, 2011

Did You Hear The Joke About the Yoga Teacher Who Hurt Her Back?

It’s not funny.

Day 2 of lying on ice packs and taking muscle relaxers.

The jokes about ‘how does a yoga teacher hurt her back’ and the ‘you must be getting old comments’ are on my last painfully inflamed nerves. I am not having fun.

This all started yesterday morning when I simply bent over to pick something up and felt a pain like I’ve never felt before. Now understand, when I say pain, I mean PAIN. I have a high tolerance for pain – heck I gave birth naturally six times with no drugs! So for me to admit to pain is really saying something.

My first thought was “oh my god I’m paralyzed”.  My second thought was “get yourself in downdog”.

I took the excruciating two steps over to my car and put myself into a half downdog. And I felt OK. A little tightness along my back but not bad. So I stood up. And took one step. And almost collapsed.

This was not good. Kid #1 came to my rescue and initially helped me into the house. As the pain worsened a bit of panic set in and I became very upset. The more upset I got the worse the pain got. Forget yoga breathing to calm me. This hurt like a *#*$***!  Kid #1 helped me into the car and drove me to the doctor.

Thankfully the x-rays showed what my doctor called “a very healthy spine” and she said I was just having muscle spasms and a sciatica flare up.

Just having muscle spasms? And sciatica pain? I never even had sciatic issues with those six pregnancies.

I’ve also never before stood in front of a doctor crying and wailing.

“But I’m a yoga teacher.” Boo hoo. “I can’t have back problems.” Boo hoo. “This isn’t supposed to happen to me.” Boo hoo hoo.

In hindsight though, this was totally about to happen to me.

The four days previous I had been in yoga teacher training sitting on the floor for 10 hours a day listening to lectures and demos.  I kept thinking that my back didn’t feel right. The only way I could describe it was it felt out of alignment. Yet I kept sitting on the floor, propping myself up as much as possible.

I’d also had some unexpected stresses at home. Over the course of the weekend I had two conversations that both ended with me saying “I can’t do this alone. I need your support.”

I’ve written many blogs recently about feeling overwhelmed and unable to be everything to everyone all the time. I’ve felt weighted down by the burdens and responsibilities both imposed upon me and imposed upon myself.

I was ready to break. And break I did.

I’m a big believer in the evidence of psycho/emotional issues manifesting physically in the body. And, ironically, the teacher training I had just finished was all about somatic wellness and subtle energy healing.

One of my favorite go-to yoga therapy books is Your Body Speaks Your Mind by Deb Shapiro. I knew what it would say, but I got the book out anyway and read the chapter on back issues.

The spine is the pillar of your being, giving you support and strength, uprightness and dignity. It contains the central nervous system and the central blood supply, and therefore your every thought, feeling, experience, response, and impression is registered here.

The lower back expresses all the weight and responsibility of being human. It supports the weight from above, just as you carry the weight of responsibility of your world. If there is no one to help with the load, no sense of being supported, this part of the back may give way.

— Your Body Speaks Your Mind pgs 116-118

 Yep, that sounds about right.

As a yoga teacher, I teach we should always listen to our bodies. Our bodies give us plenty of notice when something is wrong. We just have to listen.

Because when we don’t listen, when we just keep going and going, we break.

 

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Jennifer Williams-Fields  |  6 Followers