As mentioned in a previous post of mine, I have just recently had an operation; an operation to remove my gallbladder and gallstones. As this is right in the region of the core muscles, and having practice yoga for over 13 years, I was nervous as to how this would affect not only my ability to practice but also my ability to teach.
When I asked my surgeon how long my recovery would take the expected response was “as long as it takes, it depends on each individual”. What about yoga, I asked. Again the response, “take it easy and play it by how you feel; your body will tell you how slow or fast you should go”.
When he said that I was curious, but also hopeful that my body would tell me what was okay, hopeful that my mind would not get in the way of my recovery. As we have all experienced, the mind has its own set of rules, expectations and judgements. Sometimes these expectations are perfectly reasonable. Other times we can be very critical on ourselves.
As I am just on the early side of recovery I am hoping I will not fall into any false expectations or overly critical judgements of myself, but really I won’t be surprise when I do. It is natural to set up goals for oneself. I am hoping that if I keep reminding myself to take it easy, be kind and just accept whatever happens as being exactly what is supposed to happen, things will be fine.
I know that at least I have a foundation of yoga within me. That yogic breathing sets one up to regulate the body, to slowly calm and focus the mind away from all the rushing thoughts and expectations back to what is truly important: to remain focused on the breathe and try to relax.
It is also important to note that when trying to manage pain, a three pronged approach of yogic breathing, relaxation and meditation has be proven to help. According to an article in WomenFitness.net, meditation can have a 40% reduction in pain intensity. As muscles tend to relax when exhaling, it seems only logical that to extend the exhalation could only help reduce any built up tension. When in pain there is an increase in stress and tension, as the body tries to push the pain away. But by allowing yourself to remain focused on your breathing, allowing yourself to relax, this gives you an opportunity to move through the pain rather than resist it.
Of course this is all about taking baby steps back to a practice that is so important. I am hoping that if you or anyone you know are dealing with an injury or possibly chronic pain that you will continue to give yoga a try. And please remember to be kind to yourself.