“Help, I’m a yoga teacher, and I can’t bend forward!”

pain Last April, I hurt my back. I had been spending hours and hours each week driving around Ohio teaching and my back started to hurt a little bit. So, I got some bodywork done by someone I didn’t know that well (and who didn’t understand my body that well) and went to class right after. During separate leg head to knee, I heard and felt something go “pop” in my back and then I couldn’t move. For the rest of class I just had to lie on the floor…hurting and scared.

I felt like the Def Leppard drummer who lost his arm (hopefully some of you are old enough to get that reference!). I really thought I wouldn’t be able to do yoga anymore. Maybe I wouldn’t even be able to teach yoga anymore…and I was days away from going to Norway to teach for a month!

I went back to yoga the next day. I won’t lie; it was so hard to go back in the room. I was in a lot of pain, I was upset and I was angry. For about three months, I could barely bend forward. Some days I would just sit on the floor during class and cry. I kept teaching (and made it to Norway), but I felt like I wasn’t doing a good job. I used to love demonstrating standing head to knee pose – but I could barely lift my foot off the floor!

After many months of struggle and trying everything on my own (no yoga, lots of yoga, Advil, Aleve, Tylenol, heat, ice, rest, etc.), I knew I had to find some help. I was really hesitant to trust anyone with my spine again. But, I did some research, and was able to find someone who understood my spine, and what I needed my body to be able to do. She diagnosed a problem with my sacro-iliac joint (the joint that connects your spine into your pelvis) and together we worked out a program of adjustments, massage and physical therapy to get it back in shape.

During this time, I had to modify a lot of my postures. I turned to one of my yoga mentors, Michele Pernetta, who has a great video on back pain in yoga (and one on knee pain if you are interested). It was incredibly frustrating to modify postures, particularly the ones I had already worked so hard for so many years to master. But, with every month, I was able to do more and more, and now, over a year later, its pretty much back to normal!

As Emmy says, “pain is a priceless gift”. I didn’t want to get an injury; I certainly didn’t want to be in pain for over a year. But, my injury taught me some amazing lessons. I am more patient with my practice and with myself. I pay more attention to my breath and alignment in postures (rather than worrying about how they look to others). And most importantly, I have a personal understanding of pain and injury - so I can help my students work through the same.

Remember, if you have an injury, always talk to a medical professional. Know that the staff at Bikram Yoga Cincinnati will work with you and support you however we can. Injuries happen to the best of us, but know that with patience and time, you can and you will get through it!

Love & light,
M