Off Your Mat

Bringing yoga off your mat into your life, one pose at a time.


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The Healing Pose

I have a shoulder injury. I’m not sure how I did it.  I discovered it when I went to do a Side Plank on my left side and a sharp pain shot out of my shoulder, collapsing my arm.

Side Plank

I couldn’t believe it and spent a couple of months putting my knee down in Gate Pose instead. But it didn’t get better.

Gate Pose Variation

Gate Pose Variation

I finally went to the doctor. He wanted to rule out a rotator cuff tear. After an MRI, we found it is an inflamed Acromioclavicular joint or AC joint.

Shoulder anatomy with acromioclavicular joint, eps10

Along with a possible cortisone shot, anti-inflamatory medication and physical therapy, the doctor has advised; No push ups, pull ups, raising my arm high above my head and no weight-bearing exercises.  It means no Down Dog, no Chaturanga, no Sun Salutations, no Planks…the list goes on and on.

So basically, no yoga.

I’ve been running, doing a lot of leg work outs and sit ups.  Afterwards, I spend a long time in my favorite pose, Half Pigeon.

how_to_do_pigeon_pose-LG

It’s a solitary workout. I miss my Baptiste yoga and my interval training classes.  I’m used to smiling faces and the friendly guidance of the instructor.

When I was in yoga teacher training our instructor said, “Yoga is the practice of breathing through stressful physical positions so when you get off your mat you have learned to breathe through stress.”

The purpose of yoga is to work the body so that your mind can truly relax into meditation. Buddhists use a term called Monkey Mind meaning “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable” to describe an unfocused mind. My yoga practice helps me to focus my frantic my mind.  It allows me to adapt to the moment.

I have never been serene. My thoughts jump around like one of those mischievous movie monkeys. Bouncing around, creating havoc and anxiety.

I am confident that if I was currently a child in school, some well-meaning teacher or school counselor would get a hold of me and accurately diagnose me with ADHD or ADD. My mind has always hopped about in a way that didn’t match my surroundings.  I learned to make my busy brain work for me, but it can be exhausting. When I started practicing yoga it was as if that crazy monkey went to charm school. My thoughts learned to wait their turn.

I’m not able to do yoga right now and I’m a bit scattered.

It’s unfortunate.

But it is not the end of the world.

It’s time to literally take my practice off my mat, breathe deep and focus with gratitude on the healing that is happening.

 


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The Ironic Animal Pose

Puppy love. Pigeon toes. Going ape. Blind as a bat. Stubborn as a bull. Dog tired. Pony up. Busy as a bee. Old goat. Happy as a clam. Fish out of water. Barking up the wrong tree. Eager beaver. Hawk-eyed. Sitting in the cat bird seat. Horsing around. Monkey see, monkey do. Lion-hearted. Naked as a jay-bird.

And going on a lark. As I’m about to do now.

We attribute a lot of our human characteristics to animals. The animal kingdom holds up a mirror to humanity.  It helps us tell our stories.

Yoga is a great example. The asanas we move through are named after animals.

This pose…

 

is named Adho Mukha Svanasana and translates to Downward Facing Dog Posture.

 This pose …

 

is named Urdhva Mukha Svanasana and translates to Upward Facing Dog Posture.

Our practice is an ancient imitation of the animal kingdom. Animals naturally do yoga all the time. That very subject fuels many a goofy email chain.

Here’s the ironic animal point I’m working towards:

In my yoga-loving house, it is the animal that imitates people.

See for yourself.

It is as if my dog developed a kind of reverse yoga.

I am aware that I have become a pet owner who projects human thoughts and emotions on to her beloved animal. But considering the material, I couldn’t help myself.

If you are equally fascinated by my dog’s ability to conjure human expressions in photos, I would be happy to hear from you in the comments below.