I wrote this post together with Marta De Oliveira for her Pelvic Talks. To read her blog click here:
“I’ve been practising yoga for 9 years, teaching for 2 and I can honestly say that injuries are often one of the best teachers; it sets your practice back to make room for a deeper awareness of how and where to move your body. A lot of people act surprised when I tell them that I injured myself during a yoga class. Yes, that is possible and I will explain why I think that. The body is such a complex and intricate thing that an injury doesn’t just happen from one day to another. The connections and attachments from toes to the top of the head are deeply intertwined. Add to that an imbalance of left and right, postural issues, levels of stress and all these elements come to play and manifest into an injury. So I cannot tell you for sure that when I pulled my back and I was almost paralysed for 2 days it was caused by the yoga posture I did.
The physio I saw to treat it told me that the injury was caused by the way my sacroiliac joint tilts and he asked me to avoid any forward bends. I was not too happy specially with the idea of not doing certain postures. I then spent a lot of time trying to strengthen my core, being very careful at every movement I did and in some ways I started fearing some postures. I eventually came to terms with the fact that the pinching and tightness would now be part of my body’s feelings and I just hoped to never feel the same pain I had the first time around.
However, at the beginning of this year for a combination of reasons aforementioned, my back started going into spasms again. It was not as bad as my first injury but my fear of aggravating made me reach out to a physio straight away. I had recently met Marta through a common friend and because she is a physiotherapist who specialises in women’s health, I thought she could have a different perspective to offer me which would not just be treating me and telling me to avoid certain postures. I was right! Marta is a big yoga advocate and the dialogue between the two of us resonated with my approach towards my body. Of course we discussed pre-spasm conditions, physical activity, lifestyle, stress levels and she reassured me that the pain would cease. Most importantly she told me that I could carry on doing my usual physical activities and only to back off as soon as there was pain. This is usually what I as well ask my students to do during classes. Exploring until the stretch becomes too much, the slight discomfort should never become pain. Some of the fears of hurting ourselves are just mental barriers we create which we could overcome by just simply trying and seeing how “bad” or not that posture feels. Marta was instrumental in suppressing that fear and to provide me with insights on how good functioning of the pelvic floor can help with back pains. With all this knew knowledge I started reading my anatomy texts again and kept exchanging views and advice with her. After all we both have at heart the wellbeing of the body and despite hers being a therapeutical approach the end result is the same.
I have found a great therapist but also a knowledgable and enthusiastic person with whom I can share thoughts, articles and who understands my yogic perspective.”