My hamstring is grumbling again at the moment. I can’t deny I’m a bit scared by this: I start TT in less than a month and I can’t help wondering what that would be like with an injury. But if it is, it is. I’ll just have to figure it out. My classmates will also have to figure it out, I realise. I’m sure we’ll all learn something, right?
And you know what? Dealing with injury a second time round has actually been really, really interesting. Intellectually and emotionally I can see how differently I am reacting to a similar problem and it’s highlighting how much I’ve learned about anatomy and physiology, about one’s perceptions of and relationship to injury, and about self-care.
Last time round I had a total freak out and had no idea how to manage either the pain or my emotional reaction to it, nor how to support an injury and promote healing. I also indulged in a lot of self-blame: I must have done something wrong or been really stupid.
Fast-forward a year:
- I understand more about what āsanas are heavy on hamstrings. I try to mentally categorise movements now in terms of rotations, flexion/extension and so on. I think about whether its weight-bearing or not.
- On this basis I’ve devised my own programme: resting, then isometric stretches, then stretches with hip extension, and finally including weight-bearing with hip extension. I can’t find my physio’s notes from last time round but I understand the essentials enough I think.
- It’s been genuinely fascinating exploring what I can feel in the muscle and how to interpret those sensations. So today the body of the muscle is sore from extra stretches I’ve been doing, especially after some time of inactivity. But I can feel this also on the ‘good’ side, so I know the cause is more activity not more injury. Plus I am more sensitive to the particular location of feelings and I can (sometimes) work in a stretch differently to experience it behind the knee, in the body of the muscle, or high up at the sit-bone attachment.
- Alongside the physical care, I’m also taking more time to look after my inner self. To listen to my emotional reactions and acknowledge them, and then ease up a little on all the ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’. BTW This is much harder than the physical difficulties!
- It’s a good discipline to have to put into practice what I think I believe about āsana not being the be-all and end-all of yoga. Meditating and reflecting, yama and niyama, japa, prāṇāyāma… they’re all still there for me. And if I approach them in the right way, they too offer some rich experiences. Just less lycra and sweat involved!
Obviously I’d rather the injury resolved quickly, but for now at least I’m genuinely exploring the experience and trying to stay with it. My hamstring is not quite ‘the beloved’ of my teacher’s idealistic phrase, but it’s definitely not the enemy either. It’s just a part of me and it needs some greater care.
My yoga is a lot about learning how my body works and how to live more peacefully within it. And the hamstring is once again trying to teach me these lessons. You’ve got to admire its persistence