The Idiom of Injury

We’ve settled into a good routine here.  Simple cooking at home has been a life- saver, even if it does mean doing dishes in the bathroom.  Dale is a vegetarian 6 days a week with few complaints.  We save Fridays to either go out or cook something a little more indulgent than our usual very lite, milk-rice dinner.  I made a trip to the local “Big Bazaar”, which is like a little Wal-Mart to purchase some more modest attire.  Besides the beads of sweat that like to accumulate under the meters of material, the clothes are uber comfortable.  I can finally go out in public without feeling like I’m exposed and on display.  I’m used to seeing cows roam around wherever, chewing on the uncut grass on the side or in the middle of the road.

We survived our first monsoon last night.  However, not all the trees on our street did.  Walking to practice this morning, it was pitch black; all the streetlights were out due to the continued power outage.  We’re lucky we have a battery for when the power goes out, which is about 4-5 times a day for at least a half hour.  It’s a bonus in our place.

The Shala, outside.


The shala “wall” inside

It’s been a full-on week with practice.   And although yesterday my predominating thought was around skipping led class and using my injury to shone off my guilt.  Alas, I woke up at 4:30 and flew through led class.  I gave myself permission to “take it easy”, regardless of being smack in the middle of the room.  Easy these days means replacing one or two jump backs with a step, and of course being VERY mindful of my leg.  It is feeling a bit better.

I found a “UK trained” physio and I’ve seen him twice now.  Or, should I say, his female assistant has treated me twice.  Of course he did the assessment, however when it was time to strip down for the ultrasound, he advised me he would not be in the room.   I’m assuming this is a cultural implication – the whole male, female thing. It certainly wasn’t about privacy.  She stayed in the room while I bared ass.  It’s a good thing I’m not shy! I did feel sorry for her though; I don’t think she was expecting an up close and personal with my thong.   I’m not 100% sold on the treatment schedule, nor am I with the diagnosis.  The 2-minute assessment involved simple palpation to find the area.  Seriously?  There was zero assessment in movement, except asking me to reproduce the pain.  His diagnosis “it’s not your hamstring, Ma’am.”  Ok…. So I fed him a bit…. Adductor?  Yes.  Shit, I kinda came to that conclusion on my own.  He told me I’d have to stop doing asanas that hurt it and modify wherever I need to for the next “couple of days”. That’s it, 2 days?  He also said, “3 days treatment is all that is needed. “ Really? 3 days?  This guy must be a wizard!

My treatments include 15 minutes of Electromagnetic Short-wave therapy, which sounds like something that was used to blast psych patients circa 1920, followed by 10 minutes of ultrasound.  I’ve never had the electromagnetic treatment before, and I have no idea if it’s doing anything.  But I figure 3 treatments of 15 minutes won’t likely cause any damage.

I don’t feel any pain except in practice, and only in a few postures.  Up until today, when I was approaching an asana that aggravates it, I would cringe.  Today was different.  Maybe it was the electro-voodoo-ultrasound treatment I had yesterday, or maybe it was in my head.  I’m testing a few different things in those postures to see what I can do to limit or alleviate the pain.  Injury almost always provides an opportunity for insight, provided you have the right attitude.  It certainly does test your level of vairagya (non-attachment).

I’ve injured myself through yoga only once before.  Sure, I’ve had aches and pains, which come with pretty much any increase in activity, but nothing major, and certainly less than when I was heavy into strength training and spinning.  My last injury was just prior to coming to India, which makes this one more frustrating.  It was a sacro-iliac strain, which was 100 times more painful than what I feel now. After a self-diagnosis, I decided to seek out a chiropractor on Koh Samui to see if it would help.  This was a big step for me.  I’m not a huge fan of chiro.  I had only had one other adjustment in my life and I threw up immediately afterward.  It wasn’t an experience I was looking to repeat.  But, Dr John came highly recommended.  His assessment was thorough and so was his treatment.  He left me feeling crooked but not disoriented at all.  He said it should heal quickly, but to be mindful.  His treatment set me straight, but I believe it was my diligence in using practice as a therapy for my SI that was the biggest factor in my recovery.

I continued my Ashtanga Vinyasa practice, which may have looked the same to anyone watching it, but inside, it was very different.  I learned so much about my body, and my tendencies.  I created the injury.  For 3 weeks my mantra was “level pelvis, don’t twist from the SI”.  I had narrowed the cause of the injury down to a few incorrect movement patterns, which I had repeated thousands of times to create the strain.  My theory:  I was avoiding where the real work needed to happen.  The slightest shift of a hip or rotation of a femur made it much easier for me to wiggle into the tough stuff.   Well, when you start putting your leg behind your head, wiggling will eventually come with consequences. The injury wasn’t caused by my practice.  It was always there; an imbalance between my two sides, Ekapada (leg behind the head) just brought it to the surface.  And I’m glad it did.  It forced me to focus on other aspects of my practice that really needed attention, rather than being fixated on the climax.  It helped me find more balance – my pace went from a techno-like beat with an intense erratic melody to a smooth, gentle, rhythmic, classical tune.  With a little attention, some bent knees and a whole lot of breath, Dr John was right.  It healed quickly.  I had a new appreciation for my body.  The injury gave me something else very special.  I fell in love with my practice all over again.

I can’t wait to see what comes out of this one.


3 thoughts on “The Idiom of Injury

  1. Hey Arielle,

    So just coming out the other end of babying my wrist for the last 8 months or so, I can totally identify with what you are saying here about avoiding “the real work.” The injury was like a gift that taught a whole new awareness of how to place the hands on the mat and how to distribute the weight. Still working through the ramifications of it, but so happy to have learned the lesson.

    Take care of that adductor,

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