Yoga can enhance your physical and emotional well-being, but Yoga can also be practiced with therapeutic intentions as a way of healing both the body and the mind.
Personally, yoga has helped me in various ‘crisis’ situations in my life, many of them related to injuries or pain and the related depressed moods. Breaking my hip in a bike accident and leaving me unable to continue my ashtanga yoga practice was my first wake-up call, realising that there must be a different way to practice apart from two hours of vigorous vinyasas. So I devised my own recovery program, crawling to my mat each morning and propping myself up with blocks and bolsters to maintain the mobility of my spine.
As with all broken bones, they heal and you tend to go back to your old life, forgetting the pain and stiffness that you were in.
Little did I know that healing a broken pelvis is nothing compared to a fractured heel and ankle, which happened last year during a rock-climbing fall. When my partner arrived at the hospital, he looked at me and said “You know what this means?” A long time without being able to walk, asana, let alone climbing!
Following on from the operation (and 11 screws and a plate later), I was in a cast for 6 weeks with no weight-bearing on the broken foot and then another 4 weeks in a moonboot. During the time in the cast, I still hobbled to my yoga mat every morning, stretching, breathing and because I couldn’t stand, I decided to work on my arm balances. But the most important thing was to not “let the injury get to me”: Everybody who is physically active knows how debilitating and depressing an injury can be that leaves you physically impaired, sometimes causing grumpiness and not-so-nice reactions to the people that care for us. So I was determined to tackle the one part of my yoga practice that I always dreaded: Meditation! Sitting quietly for 20 or so minutes was usually hard for me, with my mind racing and my body fidgeting. While my leg was in a cast, however, meditation became my saving grace – it gave me a place to go to where there was no pain, disability, doubt or sadness. And I started to look forward to it – and still am! This time, my memory is working better and I am still grateful every time I step on my yoga mat and feel how things are still improving.
Needless to say, I also didn’t stop climbing (as you can see in the video clip) and the “time-out” gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into yoga philosophy.
So, if you are faced with physical or mental pain, it pays to turn to yoga as therapy – you won’t get a quick fix but it will help you develop an inner strength that you didn’t know you had!