Yesterday, I started my 3-month unlimited pass at Dhyana Yoga in Philadelphia. I took an Anusara-inspired class that was probably in the level 1-2 or level 2 range. Perhaps the strangest thing for me, and the most challenging, was to take a yoga class and not do many of the things that I used to do. Due to my shoulder injury, I modified vinyasas (i.e., knees down + cobra) or cut them out entirely. I even cut out some down-dogs, so as to give my injured shoulder a break.
Although I should have been excited to practice yoga again, I actually found myself depressed about it. It’s very humbling (even humiliating) to go from being an “advanced yogi” to practicing at about 10% of the intensity that I had grown accustomed to. I’m trying to be thankful for just being able to do any yoga at all. But it’s very difficult to accept that, at least for now, I can’t do or shouldn’t do even simple poses that were once second nature to me. Hopefully, I can turn this long, drawn-out injury into a learning experience. I definitely used to be one of those yogis who was proud of all the acrobatic stunts I could do, all the strength and flexibility, etc. To have all that suddenly taken away and not return is quite difficult for me. I know I should be able to “let it all go,” but that just hasn’t happened. At least not yet.
Yesterday, for the first time since I’ve been injured, it really hit me that I might never be able to recover the practice I once had. I may never lift myself from crow pose into handstand, or jump gracefully from down-dog into an arm balance. I may never even be able to do a proper vinyasa again. As I practice yoga at Dhyana over the next three months, I think the biggest challenge for me will not be the asanas, but accepting my limitations, and accepting that they may be permanent limitations. As of now, I’m not sure that I will be able to meet this challenge.