Yoga Injuries: Eric Semet, MA, Yoga Integrated Science RYT-200

yoga injurySome of us (lucky us) may own a beamer.  Some of us may have one that is still under the original warranty.  Others, like me, bought an extended warranty.  Service is free, oil change etc.  I even get a free car wash when I take the car there.  Everything gets checked and rechecked.  I purchased that warranty thinking it was a sure way to limit stress for the next couple years.  I could rely on the German engineering to help with my peace of mind.  Yet (there is always a yet), no such luck, there is always a light on the dashboard that comes on.  If it is not that red one, it is an orange one.  Does it stay on, does it blink? Am I supposed to stare at the dashboard while I am driving?  After all, I do everything they told me to do.  I am not looking at lights on a Christmas tree.  I have stopped cleaning my car. I know a light will come on soon.  Why should I bother when I know they are going to wash it?

Granted my body is not a piece of wonderful German engineering.  It is French, with some Italian here and there, and another secret ingredient. When Peugeot were available in the United States, I was told they often broke down.  Fiats were known as Fix it again Tony.  No wonder my body breaks down from time to time.  Wait a minute, I am doing yoga.  This IS my extended warranty right there.  If I do yoga, my body should remain in pristine condition.  At over 40, my initial warranty is now in my rearview mirror.  I bought the extended warranty much later, was it too late?

After teaching a class a few weeks ago, I noticed a slight pain in my lower back, nothing much I thought.  I had not felt anything bad during the class.  It is only afterwards the check engine light came on.  The following week, getting out of bed in the morning was getting a bit difficult.  There was always that discomfort, a little pain that you think will go away if you ignore it, and so I did.  Less than a week afterwards the warning light came on, this time, the machine broke down.  It would not just a little repair, but one that costs a lot of pain (I don’t mean for the wallet).  The kind of pain when the body says “Dude, I told you so, Achtung!  Now you have to pay”.  Two weeks later, I am still not back to full speed.  You would think they had to order spare parts from France.  The warning light is still on.  It went from red to orange but it is still there.

Given that I spent several days flat on my back, it seems like an eternity.  I smile as I write “on my Back”, a figure of speech since lying on my back was just as painful as being on my stomach.  Flat was not an option. I picked the lesser evil and chose to be on my back as I tried to sleep and wait for my body to heal itself.  Stubborn, I tried a little cat-cow in the morning  Yeah right, stab!  The imposed rest gave me a lot of time to think about the whole even.  My first thought was, how can I be in so much pain, that’s what they mean by stabbing pain, would I feel the same if I were giving birth?  In fact, on the phone I told a friend of mine it felt like I was giving birth (like I would know). The second thought that came to my mind was “why me, I do yoga several days a week?”  From what I hear from my students, my lessons are hard and require strength. How can I be “crazy strong” and be like that? I felt betrayed by my body. That is a common path for me. I have a complex relationship with my body.  Do I like it, do I hate it, or do I have to do with it?  My mentor, boss and friend wisely told me that night “Bodies break all the time”.  What did I do wrong?

I blamed my age for the little daily discomfort I felt for a few days prior to the big day.  Maybe it was more than a “little daily discomfort”, maybe it was a “medium” and I chose to ignore it.  Take that French engineering!  I taught and took classes, vinyasa, Pilates.  Take that one too French engineering!  That Thursday morning my body said “See if you can take that one Mr. Semet, no more car for you, in fact, I don’t think I am going to let you walk”.

So, what did I do wrong? For one, yogis break down too. They need to listen to their body just like a sedentary person would.  Bodies do break down, it is a fact.  They are perfection, but a little disk out of line and BAM, you end up in the car shop.  Even though I preach to stay within a range of motions, and try to stay within these limits, my body has limitations as well.  Listen to me all of you, body drivers. Before you put your body through classes day after day even though you feel pain before the class, you are not doing yourself a service.  It is alright to skip a week or two and give your body what it needs.  I know I have disk issues; they have been there for a while.  Healing is going to take a long time. My car is probably never going to be quite the same.  So what if I go from a Beamer to a KIA, it still drives!