During the first years of my practice I was skeptical and thought that injuries should and would never happen in a safe yoga practice.
But as the years have passed, my body and mind become more aware of the anatomical weaknesses of the physical body and those parts I should fully take care of.
My injuries were not sudden, but were evolving slowly with my progress in the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga series and intense 6-days a week practice, coupled to my daily biking.
My heart remembers feelings of frustration, sadness, doubt, and at some times, anger with my body. However, I continued my yoga practice the whole time, and I can say I even practiced more intensely, as my body felt it would only increase more protective physical health. My mind became much more aware of how to take care of them and slowly the injuries washed away, leaving waves of compassion and love.
These are moments when the “ego” is able to fully embrace the teachings of gurus like Chuck Miller, “the yoga practice is meant for us to become healthier and happier beings with the capacity of contributing to the greater happiness and love of our world.”
Nowadays, as I advance my practice and try new poses, my body is able to measure the awareness of any little tweaks or pains here and there, usually around the old injuries. My heart feels these as protective warning calls, and is up to the ego to zone out of danger. With my years of practice, I feel the most subtle parts of the practice: ujjayi breath-victorious breathing, bandhas—energy locks and dristis—focal point of concentration, are fully connected to my pshycho-somatic body, and conscious of one another.
As I continue studying with safe Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga practitioners like my teacher Linda Munro, I am able to understand the importance on preventing injuries, or just pain from getting worse. The majority of times, as she teaches, “we should become mental analysts, as yoga is essentially an awareness practice were we should fully embrace the principles of Ahimsa—non-harming and Satya—truthfulness to ourselves.”
Studying Yoga anatomy is also a key feature, as we are able to develop a body of knowledge. As Physical Therapist and Iyengar Yoga teacher, Julie Gudmestad says, “Yoga is a practice of healing, where healing gradually unfolds on all levels of our being.”
Even if there are times of sadness when the ego takes full control and we hurt ourselves, I have faith of the body’s wisdom. So one could say that the ideal tapas—austerity in Yoga should lead us to an asana practice that aims at being the safest and most preventive, while finding the balance between strength and flexibility. Also, my love for biking is a challenging one, so at the end is just about finding the balance between the two.
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Ed: Sara Crolick