Yoga teaches us to be mindful. Most schools of yoga and yogic thought, through different terms, explore, explain and encourage practitioners to approach life and its various nuances through a conscious, mindful awareness. Hatha yoga, in particular, teaches conscious movements.
As a Hatha yoga teachers, we constantly remind our classes the importance of slowly and consciously getting in and out of an asana safely. By being present in the moment, we not only minimize the scope of injury, but also, gradually develop the steady stream of the inner eye – we learn to guide our awareness and observation inwards – and learn to listen to converse with our body and mind as a whole.
And yet, injury, reminds us of our fallibility as humans.
Last week, I had an injury – an aggravation of an existing condition that I have been managing very well for the past many years. I could go into victim mode and feign shock at the unfairness of it all. And that would only add to the hypocrisy, if I chose to go down that path.
What really transpired was that I consciously over-rode the wise voice of sanity that kept asking me to “not do something”, and a guilty desire to experience a “thrill” took over. Ok.. I only participated in a relatively harmless game of tug-of-war, but just a few seconds into the game exposed my Achilles foot – and I hurt my back.
So now, it brings to mind a question – or many questions. Some of them may be quite judgmental even in posing, yet others fare rather compassionate and introspective. All of them, however, remind me of the fact that while my humanness keeps me susceptible to life and it’s events, the injury in itself, brings to me an opportunity to explore a deeper wisdom.
There’s much to be learnt from an injury. It never is just a jarring moment of agony. It is an experience that teaches us repeatedly the invaluable lesson of being present. And through that experience, comes the understanding of the significance of moving from ignorance to self awareness… leading to awareness of the Self.
My injury was no less of an eye-opener. It was nasty, it was painful and it reminded me that I may be many things, but at the end of it all, I was human. And it was this humanness that allowed me to approach my injury with humility and surrender. Surrendering to the pain led me to a more conscious approach to the importance of conscious choice – a gift that comes with being present enough to value the voice of reason, wisdom and practicality – the voice that says, “Don’t do that”. In surrendering to the pain, I had time to understand the wisdom of hindsight, which unfortunately always comes ‘after’ the fact, and the hope that I remain vigilant in the future.
Above all, the pain allowed me to fully pause and listen to my body, my mind, my actions. Where was the need to rush? To be everywhere and do everything? Who set the rules of engagement and which rules was I toeing apart from the cardinal rule of listening to the inner wisdom of my body and mind… the intelligence within. And slowly, steadily, and with purpose, I appreciated my injury as a means and attempt to ground me to the subtle reality and truth of my injury.
Slow down, there’s no rush. Slow down and witness the choice of a conscious alternative. Be present with the pain, be patient with the healing and be attentive to the inner voice that often whispers a truth that can keep you in line with your practice.
So yes, the injury taught me a lot – about my body, my resilience, my patterns and temperaments – but it also taught me that being a yogi was a daily attribute – it was just me – on the mat, off the mat and even as I contemplate getting back on the mat.
Luvena Rangel, RYT200 a1000yoga
Ayurveda & Meditation educator