Several years ago I was obsessed with padmasana, or lotus pose. I’d had the good fortune of having taken classes with a woman who, at the time, was the only Iyengar certified yoga instructor in Latin America. She’d shown me a beautiful way of working towards the posture, and as I admit to being very goal-oriented, it was enlivening my yoga practice. At the end of every class I would practice the pose, although often, if I was truthful, it felt a little forced. Then one day, as I sat in full lotus at the end of a class, I heard a quite audible “pop.” I could immediately tell something was wrong. In the next couple of days my knee became swollen with a dull continuous ache.
For years I’d had some of the best yoga teachers in Seattle. They’d always told me to listen deeply to my body and never to force or strain. I’d heard it so many times that I’d tuned it out – it’s like those safety demonstrations you get at the beginning of a plane flight. How often do we really listen to those things? In the case of yoga, how often do we honor that voice that tells us to come out of a pose? How often do we allow ourselves to do that simpler variation that the teacher offered? Life’s funny like that: sometimes if we don’t listen to our teachers, whether it’s the outward manifestation or more importantly, our own inner voice, life often gives us a teacher with a louder voice that we’re more likely to hear. In my case that teacher was an injury.
About the only thing I could think to do was call up a couple of friends who were physical therapists. They shared with me what many of the most common knee injuries were and gave their best guess outside of a formal diagnosis what I’d done. It turns out that yoga includes all of the exercises and stretches that a physical therapist would give to someone to rehabilitate from a knee injury or to keep their knees strong and injury-free.
Now, years later, my knee has mostly healed. I no longer have the option of taking it for granted though. It speaks loudly to me if it’s out of alignment. I have no choice but to come out of a pose if I feel my knee. I had to let go of lotus pose.
Sharing this experience, I’ve been approached time and time again by students with their own knee issues. Although it’s important to remember that yoga teachers are not trained to diagnose or treat an injury, there are quite a few things we can do within the practice to keep our knees happy and healthy. It’s also quite possible for some injuries to heal.
Posted by: Adi
Adi will be sharing the wisdom of his experience in his workshop entitled “The Bee’s Knees” this Sunday, April 15, from 12:30 – 2:30 at 8 Limbs Wedgwood.