Leading by example is a yoga teacher's number one tool for guiding their students. However, as much as our students would like to think, we are not superhuman. We feel pain just as they do, and when that pain hinders us from our practice, it hurts in more ways than one. In the next two weeks, I want to share the thoughts of local yoga instructors and how they dealt with their injuries during their yoga journey.
First, let's hear about Rachael Couch's journey. Rachel Couch is a yoga instructor, holistic health advocate, and freelance writer. Her unique perspective is the superpower she shares with the world. She shares that perspective through her blog at: https://www.termsofenjoyment.org/
Facebook: Terms of Enjoyment
There I laid on my sofa. I was bawling hot angry tears and gritting my teeth. I had only been running my yoga studio a few weeks, maybe months (it was a stressful time) and I couldn't walk without my left hip locking up and sending shooting pain in all directions. Not to mention that I had a chronic issue that affected my entire right shoulder girdle. I would often power through the pain and only to pay the price later. I saw the pain as only temporary. Until one day, I found that I couldn't turn my head or lift my arm. The pain and physical limitations that came along with the injuries only seemed to validate the insecurities my ego fights to hide. The message is that I am a fraud.
Here I was guiding people in mindfulness, breath, and postures; that I hated. I hated hurting. I hated feeling weak. I hated that there might be some truth to that message. Maybe I was a fraud? Maybe I had no business running a business? Maybe I should have never come to yoga…
This internal battle left me feeling beat down and broken. I knew that yoga was not just a physical practice, and if it were, I wouldn't have stuck with it. I hate working out. My efforts and sweat need to produce something more tangible for me to stay motivated. This new challenge was an opportunity to continue the unlearning of the subtleties in the secular construct that is so deeply entrenched in all of us. I thought that the pain was the teacher. I thought that by suffering, I was some badass, and ultimately, it led me to have to sit with myself. My Higher Self that is.
The conversations I had with H. Self were slow, and I resisted initially. But then, the questions I was forced to answer came. I had to ask if all my stress and striving were enhancing my joy? Was I becoming better at allowing the unique Divine expression of my light to beam or was I squeezing my wildfire into a wood-burning stove? Was I hustling or was I aligning?
These questions somehow cleared the way for me to learn more about yoga through the years both as an essential component of history and the personal practice that can support longevity as we age. I changed how I practiced yoga. I changed my teaching style, and people liked it. As a result of opening my mind to a personal fluid option in my physical yoga practice, my body began to heal. I learned how truly disconnected most of us are from our physical bodies. For example, I interpreted pain as a worthy opponent or a weakness that was burning away impurities when my body was seeking union with my mind to guide my life path. In much the same way, the popular emphasis on yoga as a physical practice short changes the importance of tuning into the language of H.Self.
Pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin, and the H. Self can and will use them as a modality to communicate more Universal meanings if we are willing to learn the language. I was given the opportunity to learn the language for a long time before being forced to sit still and hear the screams that ultimately prevented greater suffering. I made some tough changes to my way of thinking that have impacted not only the yoga side of life, but my general worldview as well. I closed my studio after nine short months of being in business. I can't help but have a deep sense of peace that the business taught me invaluable lessons in an expedited manner and that my path is cleared for more opportunities to live this life and enjoy it. I'm not sure I would have this perspective without working through an injury.