Thursday, January 24, 2013

the injured mindset

I have been reading a lot of posts on injury and ashtanga, or injury and yoga. I think part of the issue is the word and idea of being injured. When you see yourself as affects your mind, and your "recovery". This I got from reading Ellen Langer's excellent book Counterclockwise. How we frame these things in our minds, the language we use, influences the outcome, namely medical outcomes. In the book, she cites studies on people with cancer, and she does a study with older folks that makes them feel, look and act younger again (note, no yoga or exercise program was involved in this either).

That said, I do admit to past (and present) drama queen behavior when something hurts. My mind wants to give's the end, the absolute end of practice, etc. What I have learned through the practice is to just show up, pay attention, and do what I can when that happens. Often I am surprised at what I can do (my entire ashtanga journey has been full of such surprises).

Consistent time on the mat helps, much more than taking time off when something is sore, bruised, swollen, overstretched, although it might seem counter-intuitive. Taking time off often leads to a pattern of re-stressing the area when you return to practice, because you have not learned what to do instead. I had to learn to be kind to myself, and believe me, I am still learning this lesson.

One thing my teacher does which I really like, is to not buy into the "injured" mindset. She just suggests find a way to work so that you don't overstress anything that needs some tlc. This also dovetails with my feldenkrais experience, where you don't look at people as having things "wrong" with them. You look at, and improve, the whole person, and whatever hurts..tends to feel better too. I am also blessed to have teachers that don't believe in giving strong adjustments, so I don't have to worry about that sort of stress on my body (those have been some of my most pernicious issues to deal with).

You might think I am splitting hairs, but before some of my more pesky hurts really healed - my much impaled toes on my right foot for example- I noticed that I stopped thinking about the area as "injured". A flexible mind helps to heal the body.

Rant out.