Thursday, December 20, 2012

I want to hug the earth!

For the last few weeks I have been nursing an injury-- bicipital tendonitis. It's my first shoulder injury, one I sustained, embarrassingly, by carrying a purse that was too heavy. I've been doing my yoga practice without my right arm for the most part. I find that I really miss my right arm. A lot. Not just for balance, I miss the energy of my right arm.

This morning before class, I told the teacher (Brisa) of my injury. Brisa advised me to practice with the body I had, to do what I needed-- great words that should be heeded every day, regardless of injury. During class I did my usual one-armed postures. During Hands to Feet Pose, Brisa gave me a gentle neck massage to help me release that tightness near my right shoulder. Even though I was one-arming it a lot, I worked hard. I was having a good class.

At Full-Locust Posture I was setting my arms up in my modified position (angled down instead of straight out) when Brisa said, in her lovely, lilting, Portuguese-tinted voice, "Stretch your arms out like you're hugging the earth." At first I thought I misunderstood. "Earth" sounded a little bit like "eart" and I translated that in my injured-shoulder brain as "hurt." But then I put it together and I was so sad that I couldn't hug the earth!

My arms, constrained down by my sides to avoid any unnecessary pull on my injury seemed sub-standard, shoddy. I felt like I was withholding something from the earth. I love the earth. I want to hug the earth! If I could have, in that moment, with Brisa's enthusiastic, loving coaching, I would have hugged it long and hard. But alas, I have a bum shoulder so I can just think about it, plan for the moment when I can use my long, strong arms to reach big and wide in Full-Locust and hug like hell.

I love yoga. I love having different teachers. I love when something about their voice or their tone or their energy takes me to a new place. I always say practicing yoga with an injury is the best way to build knowledge, to develop empathy for other people who struggle. I realized today that it's also a way to hear messages differently and appreciate things we might normally take for granted. Thanks Brisa.

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