Restorative yoga teacher and therapist Bo Forbes recently shared her powerful journey through injury and recovery through embodied practices. She offers up this powerful reminder on pushing our bodies too far –resulting in a disembodied flexibility or strength– in yoga practice, whether in recovery or just everyday practice:
An inconvenient truth: just because we practice yoga doesn’t mean that we’re embodied. Nearly every week someone comes to my class, announces a 15-year yoga practice, and proceeds to share that they’ve just now discovered that they’re hypermobile—or that their practice is injuring them, or aggravating an emotional imbalance—and they’ve come to me for help. Sometimes they come without this knowledge, expecting to find the affirmation deserved by “advanced” yogis. It falls to me, time and time again, to deliver the news that countless others have not shared. Many feel betrayed by the teachers to whom they entrusted their body and who simply encouraged their mobility beyond its end range. It’s flexibility, after all, that buys us purchase into the “inner circle” of yoga.
And yet, there’s something more at play here than the primal command a teacher might wield over his students, the pull for approval that she might give and withhold in turns. We are a disembodied culture. Sometimes, this could be said of the yoga world as well, as much as it hurts to hear it—and to say it. It’s a cultural thing, this predilection for physical prowess. We value it so highly, pursue it to the exclusion of internal awareness. Why is it so, when the two can co-exist so seamlessly? If we taught interoception—mindfulness in the body—along with asana, we might have a different collective relationship with our yoga practice. Or at the least, there might be fewer injuries.