Aug '08 Pain

by CJ Jenkins

These last 18 months have all been about injury for me. Not injuries sustained from practice but from running, biking and other things. Some injuries come from body parts being repeatedly used in the same way, eventually the body says "seriously, I'm bored of this now". Pain can also be a good thing as it is a mechanism to help protects us. It tells us that something is wrong and stops us from moving in ways that would make the injury worse. The only remedy is rest, ice, warmth, being gentle and patient amongst a host of other things depending on the injury.

I injured my wrist. The pain came suddenly -- jumping through -- and within a week or so I could hardly use it. Practice because "wrist-less", and I used my forearms instead, until it got better which took months. I got shin splints recently which meant no practice because of pulling on the muscles that were trying to heal. I popped a rib out which meant no twisting, few back bends and other such things.

At the time it was miserable, depressing and made me tearful or even cry. I felt hard done by and sometimes resented the people who went through their practice with no injures ever. Slowly though, I resigned myself to the fact that this was my deal, and I had to live with it.

The injuries don't really matter but the lessons I learned do. It forced me to be kinder, to listen carefully to my body, to have few expectations, and to not care about losing postures. When I came out of injury, postures I used to take for granted became hard again, some I'd lost completely. With those I went through that process of doing them each day and focusing on the same things as we do when we learn them the first time, however this time I knew I'd be able to do it eventually rather than having that sinking feeling that it would never come. I feel like I know more about those ones than I ever did before. It's quite a privilege really to be able to do it all again.

I think what I want to say to the injured yogis out there is that the postures you lose don't matter because they come back one day. The change in the practice is an opportunity to gain a different
perspective. Working with the injury in the practice forces you to be creative and not practising at all teaches patience and allows you to explore other avenues to well being, like meditation. I don't think we should "need" the practice, I think we should "love" the practice. The more we hang on to it and depend on it, the more attached we become and the more we lose perspective on it.

Injury isn't necessarily a bad thing, it can be an opportunity :)

To read more about CJ's experiences, please visit


Anonymous said...

Thankyou so much for writing this little pain article. I am currently feeling inadequate due to my current injury and this article gave me the hope and courage to continue. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your article on pain. I have been very bummed with my current injuries and this has given my the hope and encouragement I need to continue with my practice.