A painful lesson

I have spent the past several days in physical pain. Back pain, to be specific.

Ultimately, it’s my fault. Ego and not being 100-percent aware put me here. I got caught up in how deep I was forward folding in last Thursday’s practice — deeper than I had ever gone before — that I didn’t pay mind to my body’s caution flags. It just felt so amazing to be in Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee pose) with my head pressed against my knee and my side body elongated in way it’s never been stretched before. It didn’t feel so amazing when I finally came out of the pose. The red-hot flares finally surfaced in my right lower back when I couldn’t hold Navasana (boat pose) and had to quit practice early and hobble home.

My teachers here have told me repeatedly to “Go slow.” And there is even this friendly reminder posted just outside of the yoga studio.

Yet, I failed to follow both of these cautions in my forward-folding zeal.

Oh, Erica.

I took a break from practicing the past two days to try and heal, but it seems like I have some more healing to go.  I can’t even touch my toes right now, my back hurts so much. This is a first for flexible me. And simply observing today’s class (as I was advised not to practice for a third day) pained me. Really pained me. As in, it hurt my back to just watch other yogis fold over and arch back. I wasn’t physically experiencing the movement in my own body, but my body was reacting as if it were so. Crazy.

I shed a few tears today when I confessed my frustration to my teacher, Ajay. I have a little more than a week left in Mysore and was making such excellent progress with my asana practice … and now, I feel like I have to take 10 steps back. I am bummed. But know that it is the appropriate thing to do for the long term. I cannot push myself simply because I am in India. I shouldn’t have been pushing myself so hard in the first place.

Ajay was sympathetic, but also said there was a reason this was happening with my body right now. Wish I knew what that reason was. Perhaps it’s as simple as, “Slow the hell down, Erica.” Or it’s the universe nudging me to get back to basics. Or it is something yet to be revealed …

Regardless, I will be more mellow, more careful, more delicate with my body this week. I only get one body in this lifetime, and I’m not about to throw my healthy body away for another euphoric feeling in Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana. Lesson learned. Hopefully the memory sticks. I don’t want it to be like when a drunk girl is throwing up in the toilet and vowing never-ever-ever to drink alcohol again — only to get plastered the following weekend.

Ajay said that if I needed to cry in a pose to release anger or frustration, to just do it. That I needed to do it.

Great, so tomorrow morning I have permission to be the Niagara Falls yogini — which may very well happen.

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