Thursday, February 11, 2010

More Ebb, Less Flow

A Third Island follower was recently sidelined by a hamstring injury sustained in a yoga class being taught by sub. He asked me to write about injury and yoga. Here (with some minor edits) is what I sent him, and thanks E., for the question.

I look at the student/teacher relationship as a partnership. Every time a student gets (more than normally) sore, tweaked or (bliss forbid) injured, it's information that both student and teacher can use to strengthen not only that particular partnership, but those formed between that student and other teachers, also that teacher and other students.*

The teacher gets to reflect:
  • If I'm subbing, did I take the time to query the class about level of experience and query the absent teacher (if possible) about the same thing?
  • Did I ask at beginning of class if anyone had anything I should know about? (tired, sore, injured, crabby)
  • Did I allow for enough warmup given the general make-up of the class (age, experience), and was it specific enough to the focus of the class?
  • Did I suggest pose modifications, like keep slightly bent knees in forward bends if hamstrings are tight?
  • Were my cues direct and clear?
  • Did I offer an assist if I noticed a student’s alignment could be improved?
The student gets to reflect:
  • Did I allow myself to go beyond my intelligent edge? If so, why? What could I do differently next time?
  • What did I learn about the muscle I tweaked or pulled and the pose I was attempting when it happened?
  • What modifications could I practice until the full pose is available to me, if ever?
  • What's my relationship with competition and how good am I at letting go of striving in a class situation?
Then again, whether student or teacher, sometimes it's all going along famously: you're breathing, balanced, strong and twang! you're no longer a celebrity.

Remember that sometimes sidelines appear for a reason. Find a pranayama class or dust off a copy of your favorite meditation guide. Or a novel. It may be time to ebb, not flow, for awhile.

*Of course, if the injury feels serious, immediately seek professional medical advice and postpone all the above reflecting. You’ll have plenty of time for that in the waiting room.

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