Injury and Doubt

injuryI hurt my ankle yesterday. I was doing tic-tacs…or rather, trying to jump back into downward dog from backbend after landing in backbend from handstand. So, that probably does not make sense…but if you get it, then I’m glad.

Only that I didn’t land right. My teacher Aimee was trying to help me. I was telling her that I needed to prep for 2 breaths before hoisting myself up. I could hear others laughing…I have been struggling with this for the past 2 months. Finally I was ready and tried to focus on bearing down in my chest rather than trying to lift the legs up into the air.

Something went wrong. Terribly wrong. I exerted a great deal of strength and landed wrong on the left ankle. I crashed onto the mat. It was loud. I heard chuckles at first. I figure that it is usually because I am fairly loud and expressive (especially when I land), and recover or rebound with a laugh, and it probably serves as good entertainment at the shala when things tend to get sort of serious.

But I was still crunched up on the mat, clutching my left ankle. I was trying to decipher whether the pain was bad, really bad, or annhiliating bad. It wasn’t the annihilating bad. Somewhere between bad and really bad. I had a hard time breathing. And it got pretty silent in the shala. Aimee and others came beside me. “Are you ok?” Aimee said. “What happened?”

“Landed wrong,” I said. All I knew was that my ankle hurt, and tears started coming out. My whole body shook and I became that little girl again on the playground, hurt and shaking. Sometimes there are no words for pain. There is just…pain.

I was struck by the kindness of my shala mates. One offered to get ice and water. Some just gave me reassuring touches and hugs. I managed to pull myself out of the studio into the waiting area. Put my feet up on the couch to elevate. I thought maybe this new yoga space — so much smaller than the one we have been used to — just set my sense of direction wrong.

One day after the injury, I realize that it will be, at the very least, 1-2 weeks before I can return to practice. My left ankle is horribly swollen. Oddly no pain and I can walk, bear weight on it. But doubt has set in with a vengeance. When will I return to practice? Can I do what I have been doing before? Will I have to start from square one, after all these years of hard work? And ironically, these doubts come after I interview an experienced yogini for my dissertation and she said that after going through all these things, one can come back stronger and be able to do all that one had been able to do.

But will I?

Maybe it is a test from the universe. “Don’t get so cocky,” it seems to be saying. It will be good practice in patience and non-attachment. And living with the fear of not being able to do it all. We can say to ourselves, “Yoga isn’t all just about the poses.” But when you can’t do the poses…that is not so easy to say. You have to ask, What am I really facing? I will be honest for myself. I am scared. I relied on the flexibility of my left ankle to pull that leg into full lotus, especially when folding into Karandavasana. Or Supta Vajrasana. I will be lucky to even get into Garhba Pindasana in Primary. But I also know that no matter what, I will always practice. Even if it is just the standing and finshing poses. Whatever I can do, that will be the practice.

As I pray for reprieve from the divine…

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