Yoga teachers aren't superhuman... we get hurt too!
As many of you know, I had a slight incident in October last year... I was in a car accident (In Yellow Peril - 3 days after I picked him up :( ) aaaannnddd I ended up with very severe Whiplash, even though the damage looks incredibly superficial. Wonderful!
Why am I writing a blog about this in June, you may ask? Well, it's taken me this long to feel myself again. Yep, a tiny (little at first glance) inconsequential bump to my shiny yellow bumper has taken 8 months to recover fully from.
We all get injuries. It's part of being human. It's life.
As someone who is hypermobile, our tissues are more flexible. Which is great for some things. Not so great for others... like car accidents!
Here's what I learnt during my recovery.
Your body isn't the same after an injury. And that's a-okay.
I went to see my physiotherapist at my specialist Sports Medicine practice the day after my accident and she said "Jade, do your normal". As a yoga teacher, i'm treated like a sportsperson - my body is my livelihood.
Problem is, my normal is quite strong Flow, with inversions (headstands & arm balances). She said, I've got to do as much as I can and move.
I strongly believe movement is medicine.
Sitting on your arse your whole life never did anyone any favours.
So, I got on my mat, stretched gently, taught verbally, barely demonstrated (those who come to my classes know I barely do anyway!) and so on. And I started to feel better.
Then came the hard bit - starting to repair the damage, and rebuild my strength.
I very quickly found that my body is different. I'm stiffer in the mid-section of my spine on the right. My core was weaker. It still feels subtly different now.
Do you know what? That is 100% okay. I got off relatively lightly solely because I was so strong to start with. It'll come back.
Leave the ego at the door
It would have been so easy to go straight back into my practice at the level I left it, practicing advanced classes and postures. But, that would have led to a whole host of other potential injuries by trying to do postures and things my body wasn't ready for.
However, I was always very aware that due to my injury - my body wasn't up to it. I had to leave my ego at the door and go back a few steps.
As a teacher, this is a challenge. Wherever you practice, people tend to know you are a teacher. I'm lucky enough to teach and practice at my favourite studio - and when your face is on their Instagram, on the app when you book classes, and you're in class with people you teach regularly. People watch you. People wonder what your practice is like. People aspire to have a practice like yours - I've had people say to me so many times, "your practice is stunning", "I wish my downdog was like yours", "wow your forearm balance is so strong" and so on.
It's hard because it's a pressure - I never want to set a bad example.
I always advocate in class being honest with yourself. If your leg is bending in standing forehead to knee, should you be rounding down for your foot? Probably not. Having the confidence to say "no, not today" to your ego is hard.
Once I felt a bit stronger in January, I returned to my inversions practice but using a wheel as a prop to help me engage. I practiced drill after drill after drill to switch my muscles back on and get strong again.
There's no shame stepping back and looking after yourself. After all, that is one of the things yoga looks to teach us - self compassion and awareness.
Slowly slowly catchy monkey
Here we are in June, and yep I'm pretty much sorted now.
I'm back in inversions class and actually stronger than ever, thanks to focused work on shoulder strength and glute work. I feel pretty strong but I still modify certain things. And that's fine.
Don't ever be afraid to take the time to heal. Being patient with yourself and the healing process will pay dividends over time.
So, there you have it.
Recovering from an injury isn't an easy road, but you'll get there.