I have been practicing yoga with passion and grace for three years. My relationship with yoga has developed into a sacred space. My time on the mat offers healing and integration of my spirit body mind self. In yoga, I learned to support my breath. And that asisted me in every other endeavor that followed: athletic, emotional, and academic. This the story of how yoga saved my knee.
I came to yoga with the attitude of an endurance athlete – where I was in the habit of pushing through pain and ignoring messages from my body that I was making my body work too hard, stressing it rather than allowing it to thrive. I have been running five times longer than my time on the mat. My pre-adolescent years were intense practice on the ice, figure skating for hours evey day. I began skiing in my teens, falling hard and getting right back up to take another run. It was fun. Early on, I developed the habit of my mind perceiving my body.
Yoga invited me to have a different relationship with my body. Yoga showed me the strength in not pushing through but in allowing with breath.
As I have matured I have noticed the importance of integrating spirit, body, and mind so that I move, act, and respond in an integrated way. The most powerful guiding force in this integrated action is my breath.
I found my relationship to my breath on the mat. I discovered how it allows my body to move into perfect position with strength. I took that relationship to my running, then to training for cycling tours, and finally to training for Triathlons.
The practice of yoga heals, strengthens, aligns, and builds amazing resilience. I was able to walk away from a skiing accident that in the past would have resulted in a tear in my medial collateral ligament…or something more debilitating.
I was skiing beside my daughter, assisting her and teaching her how to ski. She got caught in her skis and couldn’t stop. She began to go backwards down the hill. She was far in front of me. I was able to offer my pole to stop her from going down the hill. I had to use an over-extension of my knee in a crouched snowplow to stop her. This movement twisted my knee, pulling my quad tendon, patellar tendon, gracilis tendon and semitendonus tendon of my left knee and my hamstring of my right leg, stretching them beyond normal. Swelling began immediately.
I noticed something when it was happening. I experienced an increased awareness of my left knee. My awareness happened in slow motion. I noticed my knee stretching and then releasing, no pop. My hamsting pulling, reminsicent to doing the splits, pulling and stretching, burning, but no pop. Once my daughter and I came to a stop, I found myself in quite a difficult position in the snow. I had to stretch my leg further to pull the ski out of the snow and relaese the pull. That action was automatic because of my yoga practice. I took a breath and on my exhale I lifted my body, straigtening my muscles and bones, lengthening further so I could pull my ski out of the snow and then release it and turn both my legs to release the over-extension. Without my muscle memory and integrated action with breath I would not have been able to lengthen in this way. My yoga practice saved my knee.
My knee was inflammed and hurt. I listened to it. I felt the shift in energy and nourished the injury with movement, elevation, rest, and yoga. I was able to return to cycling and running almost immediately, albeit a lighter routine to gently move and nourish my joints. Caring for my injury with Chinese Herbs, Arnica, and yoga saved my knee and allowed me to return to my training with mindfulness rather than my earlier habit of pushing through. I stretched my knees and legs effortlessly every other day, using my breath to lengthen tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
• Reclining hero pose, Supta Virasana
• Big toe pose, Padanghusana
• Standing splits, Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana
• Pigeon, one legged King Pigeon, Eka Pada Rajakaotasana
• Splits while in Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
• Garland Pose, sitting yogi, Malasana
• Half lotus, Padmasana
• Standing Forward Bend, Uttanasana
• Wide-angle seated forward bend, Upavistha Konasana
• Wide-angle forward bend, Prasarita Padottanasana
The practice of yoga aligns spirit, mind and body through mindful breathing and allowing alignment with present moment attention.
If you want to be stong in any athletic or academic discipline, practicing yoga shows you the way.