This month has been flying by so quickly! At the beginning of October, I strained my hamstring and I was very scared. While I was teaching a yoga class, I demoed one simple pose and I felt a ‘ripping’ sensation. I kept on teaching for the rest of the class, pretending like nothing had happened. Of course, I stopped demoing at that point. I taught the rest of the day and the rest of the week without demoing any poses. I was scared because my livelihood depends on my health. If I can’t move freely, I can’t teach, and if I can’t teach yoga or spin classes, then I would have to radically change my career. It was then that I realized how much I depend on my body. Luckily my hamstring injury was not as bad as I thought in the beginning. It was swollen for few days, tender, and tight. But after a week of resting, icing, elevating and compressing I was able to do most of my daily tasks. I still had to take it easy and listen to my body carefully. After four weeks, my hamstring is not completely back to normal but it is well enough so I can continue my daily routines as a yoga/spin teacher.
Here are 3 things I learned from my hamstring injury:
1. Take care of my body
I am lucky to be able to move my body freely. Also, I am extremely lucky to have a job where I can get paid to exercise, stay fit, and encourage and inspire others in that way. There are many people who physically cannot do what I can due to disability or illness. I am very grateful for a healthy body.
The classes I teach per week have been increasing, but my self-care has not been keeping pace. As I teach more and more classes, I need to learn to slow down, rest my body, fuel my body and love my body. I make sure to get enough sleep, eat enough healthy food throughout the day, and drink LOTS of water (especially now that I am starting to teach more hot yoga).
2. How to become a better teacher
When I first started teaching yoga, one of my biggest challenges was that I could not teach without doing all the poses with my class. My right and left would get completely mixed up if I were not doing the actual pose. In my yoga teacher training, my teacher made us practice teaching without doing the pose, but in the real world, that was very difficult to do. As more time went on and I started teaching more classes, I became better at teaching without doing the actual pose. When my hamstring was injured I was FORCED to teach orally rather than using my body to model the pose. In that way, I truly learned how to master the teachings.
You might wonder why a yoga teacher would choose not to practice while teaching? Yoga teachers need to be able to watch the whole class in order to make sure that everyone is moving safely. A yoga teacher needs to pay attention to her students so she can help, adjust, or cue in a way that is tailored towards the individual. Another reason is if a yoga instructor is teaching multiple classes per day, she does not want to get too exhausted from doing all the poses in every single class that she teaches.
3. Listen to my body
Your body doesn’t lie. You just choose to listen to your body or not. My body will tell me when to stop and how far to go during my workouts. My body will tell me when it’s hungry or thirsty. My body will tell me when I need to rest, sleep more or stop moving. I just have to listen. It is easy to ignore what my body is telling me, especially when I am busy or my mind is pre-occupied. It takes a conscious effort to be in tune with your body.
I hope to prevent future injuries by always warming up before I demo any poses. I’ll try to eat well, drink lots of water, give myself enough rest and listening to my body. I hope all my readers have healthy bodies for many years to come :)