Hamstrings: my blessing and now my curse

One of my favorite sayings when it comes to yoga is “you do yoga with the body you brought, not the body you want”. It really sums up the mindset of there is only now and you shouldn’t put off doing yoga (or anything) until some future date when you {insert your personal demon to overcome here}. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they ‘need to lose weight’ before they start yoga or that they can’t do yoga ‘because they aren’t flexible’. It’s like saying I’ll start living my life when I think I’m good enough to do everything I might ever want to do. I love saying that yoga is a journey not a destination because you start on a journey and end up someplace different. You don’t do yoga because you’re flexible, you do yoga to gain flexibility. Anyway, stepping of my yoga soapbox and getting back on topic…

Another truth about yoga that most people don’t know is that everyone has something they are naturally good at and it’s different for everyone. From flexible shoulders, innate upper body strength, open hips to stretchy hamstrings, we all have something we are good at without having to work for it. My blessing is super flexible hamstrings. I can bend over and lay my palms flat on the mat without having to warm up or bend my knees. My first down dog of every practice is all it takes to get my heels flat on the mat. My tall and lanky yoga instructor still can’t ever get her heels flat in down dog after more than ten years of teaching. It is just how I’m made. Some might argue it is because I’m short and squat. I’m okay with that being the reason since I like the side effect regardless of how or why it happened.

Two weeks ago, I was blissfully enjoying a seated straddle stretch… picture sitting on your butt with your legs straight and both spread wide, bent over at the waist trying to lay your head on the mat between them. And yes, blissful for me since I always feel accomplished when I can go a little further toward the mat thanks to my hamstrings. And all of a sudden I heard and felt a pop in my upper left leg right under my butt. I ignored it as I have a habit of doing and two days later did my epic one hundred and eight sun salutations to celebrate the solstice. I haven’t been the same since.

I took it easy for a week when it was clear I had actually done something to myself. How did I know? I could barely bend at the waist without pain, forget about touching the floor. I even went in for some therapy a week ago with my amazing sister in law. It helped so much that I assumed I was all better. But, this morning I was back to being limited in what I could do.

This is where most people would be disappointed and unhappy that they can’t do whatever they want but I saw things differently this morning. Subconsiously I must have known I wasn’t one hundred percent because when it was time to set our intention for the morning’s practice I decided to focus on just being on the mat and okay with whatever showed up there without judgement. When I had to step out of a pose because it hurt, I just listened and did what my body was telling me rather than pushing through it. When I could have gotten all up in my head about how I could barely bend over in standing straddle stretch when I can usually put my head on the mat, I just did what I could and didn’t push it.

Here’s the bottom line since I’ve been thinking about it all day… I’m injured, yes, and will have to take it easy for a while. But that means I’ve come full circle with my health and fitness and am capable of doing things full out where there is always risk of injury. A year ago yoga was something I did to keep myself sane while dealing with lots of stress associated with a new chronic disease. Now, it is a lifestyle and a way to challenge myself physically as well as emotionally.  I’m choosing to look at this injury as a new challenge and a positive indication of how far I’ve come in my quest back to fit. What a wild journey it has been. And even injured, I still love my hamstrings!

About terraluft

Writer; wife, mother and impulsive bitch incapable of saying no. Fueled by coffee, yoga and sarcasm. View all posts by terraluft

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