By Mary Beth Tweardy, ERYT.
I’ve been repeating this story all weekend, so I will repeat it again in black and white because I believe it’s one of those great lessons that come our way in a simple conversation. I may have some of the details a little hazy, but the bottom line seems clear.
My friend and I got a pedicure the other day, and the young girl working one of us mentioned in conversation that she was taking a break from exercising (and would probably struggle to get out of the chair she was working in) because she had a torn labrum in her hip. (For the purpose of this conversation, the labrum is basically cartilage around the hip joint.) This injury can be quite painful and require surgery.
“How did you tear your labrum?”
She replied, “Well, I ran a full marathon with a fractured shin on the opposite foot, so the uneven repetitive motion and impact eventually wore and tore the labrum on the other hip.”
Oh boy. A full marathon on an injury? Doesn’t seem like the best idea. But we are known to do things like this, because we made a commitment or set a goal, and we don’t want to “wimp out” because of pain. But the story gets better:
“How did you fracture your shin?”
She replied, sheepishly this time, “Well, I had plantar fasciitis on the opposite foot, and I continued to run even though I was wearing a stabilizing device, and the awkward impact of favoring the other leg repetitively caused a fracture.”
See the pattern?
It is said that when the body whispers, you better listen, because if you do not, it will become louder and louder until it’s shouting at you.
“It is said that when the body whispers, you better listen, because if you do not, it will become louder and louder until it’s shouting at you”.
I joked with this girl that the next step would be breaking her nose as she fell on her face just trying to walk! We laughed, but think about what the facts are: because of these choices to “push through” actual measurable injury and pain, now this girl has been taken out of commission for this entire year, probably, from almost any favorite exercise. In her early 20’s. The summer after a global pandemic, grounded from many fun activities.
Lesson learned, I hope? I of course suggested beginning with informed, gentle yoga. Turns out she’s already a power yogi, but is having trouble with shoulder pain—and since power yoga typically involves that beloved flow of chaturangas, she’s taking a break.
Ding! Did you hear that bell? Another lesson. Finally listening to pain and being willing to take a break is progress. But don’t let the inaccessibility of a pose, whether that be temporary or permanent, take you out of the game. Not only are there other classes, other styles, but there are modifications you can—and should!—take in your favorite classes too. Unselfconsciously. Without ego.
Additionally, there are teachers there to guide you, and not only have they had training, but…guess what? They’ve had INJURIES!
Speaking just for Modern Yoga, we have teachers who have been runners, ice skaters, golfers, Cross Fitters. They have experience with massage, Jiu Jitsu, recovering from surgeries, rehabbing a bad back. Some have hypermobility (you may have heard that called “double-jointed”) or vertigo.
It always seems to come back to this: listen to your body. Your intuition knows best. And one of the best ways to cultivate your intuition about your body is a yoga practice.
Take the journey within, and explore different class types, different teachers, and different modifications. You have everything to gain! Yoga is, simply, self-care.
See you on the mat!