Lessons From Bad Yoga

I started yoga right after I had my youngest child. I don’t think I’d even been practicing for a week when I was diagnosed with postpartum hyper thyroiditis.   One troublesome symptom that I was having that didn’t really fit was joint pain; my wrists ankles and knees ached like they never had before. It took me several years to realize that the cause wasn’t PPT but bad yoga. That was humiliating… Like wake-you-up in the middle of the night with the cringing-stupids humiliating.  

The only reason I even got into yoga was because it looked easy and all my friends were doing it. It wasn’t and they quit within a month or two.

 I kept coming back to yoga though. I constantly circled and stabbed at it the way a cat does a snake; As in “It will probably hurt me, but it is just irresistible!“. I took a few classes but I felt like a blubbery sea lion among graceful, beautiful otters. After a few classes at the Rec I figured I had it down and could practice at home with YouTube vids and dvr’d PBS 80s Yoga! reruns.  

Insert cringy-stupids

Fast forward 4 years. I’ve been doing half-hearted yoga on my living room floor for a while and decide to take up running. I joined a running group at my local rec, and ran a 5K. In fact, I was up to 3 miles every other day for a while. It was pretty great but my neck hurt all of the time. My knees hurt all of the time.

I limped along that way for quite some time but then the day after Christmas the following year I threw out my back. I’d never done that before. It was awful, I couldn’t believe the agony. After that I because over cautious and careful. I started to really get into the connections that every muscle group has to each other and the importance of preventive maintenance on this old body of mine. Which led me right back to YOGA. 

The more I learned about muscle connections and interactions and the resultant joint health importance, the more fascinated I became. Not only did my pain finally go away but I understood my body and mind connection in a way I never had before. My natural inclination is to go as fast as I can when exercising. Go fast, go hard, and get done. It’s great for my ADHD side because my  brain is constantly looking for what’s next… ready to move onto the next thing. Yoga is more of a challenge in this respect because it’s about slowing down, and being in a moment. It’s about precise movements and intentional breathing. It’s about noticing things we might take for granted (our posture, our breathing, our inner thoughts) and allowing them our total focus if only briefly. For me yoga is a practice of intention instead of impulse, which is a constant ADHD struggle. 

So, for the past year I’ve been committed to yoga everyday and these simple rules:

Good Yoga 

1. Do it right. 

2. To do it right, I have to go out and learn from (and observe) other yoga students. 

3. To learn from other yoga students I have to stop worrying if I look like I know what I’m doing and start actually knowing what to do. 

I’m really focused on my practice now and I take every new class, workshop and class I can find. My greater understanding of yoga has opened up a mystical spiritualism I didn’t know existed in me. 

But mostly, good yoga feels GOOD. 

Do you have any bad yoga stories? I’d love to hear them!

Namaste- Missy


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