Fiona: Part of being a yoga practitioner is practicing through the ebbs and flows of life. Last fall, Tina showed up to the studio in the early morning hobbling. She had fallen the day before and hadn't been to the doctor yet, but we figured it was a strain. She went through her practice that day doing a modified . . .
Tina: Primary series.
Fiona: And, it looked quite different, because she couldn't basically bear any weight on her left leg. I got the text later on in the day saying that she had actually broken her tibia. There's Tina, showed up the next day in a half cast for practice. For the next . . . How long were you in the cast for?
Tina: Seven to eight weeks.
Fiona: Okay, seven to eight weeks, Tina was practicing in a modified form with a cast. Honestly, it was truly inspirational. I think so many times people stop coming to the studio because they've tweak something. In this case, she literally had a cast, but she still showed up.
It's so important if you have an injury to keep practicing and show up. Because blood circulation is going to be happening through the power of the vinyasa, the breath being into the movement with the use of the bandha with the drishti. It's a really powerful healing component.
Initially, there was no weight on your left foot at all, I'm guessing, and as time went and she moved through a couple of different casts, she was able to apply various degrees of weight. The main thing we tried to do was to keep everything really even. I remember once in kapotasana because the cast was bigger one leg was higher than the other, so we had to take a book and just put it under the other leg so it was the same height. We were just mainly looking for things like that, anything to give her more foundation. But ideally, she still did the vinyasa.
Granted, Tina's been practicing for many years, so she has a solid, established practice, but the main thing is that she kept practicing throughout the entire course of her injury.
Tina: In addition to working closely with Fiona and all the practitioners in the room, I find that keeping that internal count in my head as I moved through the practice was instrumental in helping me even just go through the day. I would try although sometimes it may not be physically possible to self practice to the vinyasa count as I moved through the primary series and eventually where I was in a second.
Fiona: This is a loose interpretation of what her marichi-A look like. You have to remember that she had the cast on and her leg wouldn't obviously bend, so there was some difference. She would bind underneath her thigh. This was kind of marichi-A. Sometimes, we might just be there to provide a bit of foundation or scaffolding to help her out in the pose, something like this. But, when she exited, she was still able to do her her vinyasa, and that's so important when you're going through an accident or you're healing from an injury. Remember, her leg's broken, her bottom leg, and she couldn't bear any weight, so her leg would kind of float up in the air.
This is how it happened for a while. She's been able to jump through. This is where it's important to have the community to where you can go and be supported, and I have to say I don't think I've heard Tina complain once.
There was no air cast given to her. She actually went straight to walking, and the doctor said apply weight, which is really amazing. I have to think that that's due to the fact that she really kept the circulation going throughout the entire injury. When they took off the cast, usually one side is much dramatically smaller than the other side. Yes, it was smaller, but not dramatically. It really wasn't as extreme as I thought it would be.
So, if you have hurt yourself, don't stop practicing if you have a practice. Modify. Listen to your body. Obviously, don't push. But this is a great opportunity to enhance your healing through the practice of the vinyasa, breath linked with movement using bandha.
FIONA STANG first journeyed to Mysore in 1999 where she met her teacher Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois and his grandson, Sharath Rangaswamy. Fiona continued to study with Guruji to receive his teachings of devotion, grace, faith, compassion, patience, and yoga. In 2000, Fiona was authorized to teach by Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois, and in July 2009, she was in the first group of 40 students worldwide to receive Level 2 Authorization. Fiona is the director and teacher at Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver. Visit their website at Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver
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