You can finally bind in Marichyasana. You can do your Sun Salutes without taking an extra breath. Your practice is coming with relative ease…well on some days. And then it happens. You go a hair to deep and you hear a ripping sound. Injury.
Yoga reflects life and life reflects yoga. I have never heard of anyone living into old age who had not hurt themselves. Usually the greater our accomplishment, the greater the risks. If you think of anyone in this world who has accomplished something so big that they have a place in history, they did so at great risk. The Wright Brothers who revolutionized flight risked death whenever they left the ground. Martin Luther King Jr. was ultimately assassinated during his work to bring equal rights to minorities. Golfer Tiger Woods suffered a double stress fracture in his Tibia and still went on to compete in the US Open. Emmitt Smith led the Giants to victory with a dislocated shoulder.
Injuries are not necessary in yoga or in life and as the Yoga Sutras say, “pain, that has not yet come, should be avoided.” We should live and practice with awareness to prevent injury. However, to rise in life, we have to take a certain amount of calculated risks and sometimes our calculations are wrong.
What we are looking to achieve in our yoga practice is up to us. Where we need to go with it is apart of our own journey. When questioned about the craziness of certain yoga poses, a yoga teacher said, “What if the point is not to get it right? What if the fact that the pose is crazy and seemingly unattainable is the point of doing it?” Maybe the strength gleaned from such a hardship is what we need.
I recently attended a workshop with Ashtanga teacher Kino Macgregor and she spoke about how some people only need to do half Primary to let go of their ego while some people need to get all the way to Third Series to do it.
You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go-T.S. Eliot
This T. S. Eliot quote is not true or necessary for everyone, but for some, it is. Success is not a straight line. Injuries are always a huge learning opportunity.
Fall down seven times, get up eight-Japenese proverb
Disclaimer: The opinions of the author don’t necessarily reflect those of APP participants
Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.