Returned and Relearned, by Diane Urbani de la Paz

16864190_10155919393678065_4908197565605253110_nThis was a slap in the face. I did nothing whatsoever to deserve the injury: a right deltoid muscle that started out talking to me one day and then, by nighttime, yowled like an angry cat. All I had to do is raise my right arm and there it was, a hot gnawing.

Warrior 2, chaturanga, anything with cactus arms: lopsided I was, due to the bad deltoid. I don’t know when or why the injury happened. I just knew it wouldn’t stop hurting. So I took a step toward the cliff of poor-poor-pitiful-me, and figured I would stay home from the yoga studio for several days.

Several days hence, I felt like a slug. My deltoid didn’t seem any better. So what the heck, I reframed the situation and went to yoga. There, I heeded the advice I have offered scores of times during classes I was teaching.

Do what feels good. Modify the pose to suit your body on this particular day. The thing that really matters is your breathing. Send breath to the tight spot, and let it release.

What do you know? It worked. After a Power Yoga class with Jenny, I felt light. The deltoid still hurt, but the rest of me emerged brand-new.

During class, I had skipped the chatarungas and cactus arms. I let my right arm rest during Warrior 2. Nobody else in the class seemed to mind.

Circling back to another yogic principle: Practicing is not about building a particular muscle set. It’s not about having a carved figure, though that is a nice benefit.

Yes, yoga is about something bigger and sweeter: the delicious flow of energy all through the body and mind. I let my injury keep me out of class for a bit, and when I returned, I re-learned: I can receive the “ahhhh” benefits regardless of whether I do all of the poses as they’re cued.

Ibuprofen and an ice pack can also be helpful, of course. But I know now from experience that a hurt wing doesn’t mean you can’t fly. The breeze, aka your breath, is there to give you a lift.