Let’s face it being injured sucks, whether you are a yoga teacher or not. Suddenly you are you are restricted, bound, hampered from doing even menial tasks let alone engaging in physical practice.
I am not immune to injury, after an ankle shattering last year that had me out of action for 6 months, the injury gods struck again when I broke my hand surfing 2 months ago, yes, I thought here we go again. After I was prevented from doing so much physical activity, basic and advanced, with my ankle injury I was absolutely determined that nothing in my routine would be altered by this hand injury, a mere cast ain’t going to stop me running, gardening or teaching and practicing yoga! However there are of course limits, so if you are like me and wanting to teach through injury here are some things that helped me!
Find your voice
I planned my classes around some fundamentals of poses allowing me to demo in a beginners class when I needed to. This meant going back to basics and teaching fundamentals to poses or specific physical adjustments like axial extension or pelvic tilts. Through this I focused more on my visual cues and bolstering my articulation of speech and relied less on demos. The added benefit is getting the students to focus much more on their own self awareness rather than moving through a series of asanas.
You may have students recovering from similar injuries so use the time to get creative with your flow. Instead of relying on classic sun salutation flows try other options such as leading with your legs and build lower body and core control. Depending on where you have your injury you can look to activate other parts of your body to compensate. As I do a lot of sequencing in my class this was quite fun to explore, and pushed me to think outside of the box.
Ask for help
It’s ok to put your hand up and say you need help every now and then. I for one am particularly terrible and notoriously bad at this. But let’s be honest even my students were concerned when I turned up to class with an arm cast! In each class I teed up my most experienced student to demo at the front, giving me the freedom to hold space in the room. This relaxed both the students and myself, there is no need to be a hero.
It is also helpful to have a teaching assistant on point to help with physical assists when you are teaching a larger class. My students love assists so it is a shame not to maintain this with a little extra help from someone.
Be the proof
I used my experience to be living proof that sometimes shit happens which you weren't expecting and which you cannot control. I used this to ground the class to anchor into their breath and accept the situation, acknowledging we cannot control the currents of life around us. Everything is temporary so we need to learn from this experience while it is with us, but before long this time will too pass.
Meditate, meditate, meditate
It goes without saying injuries are truly a bitch especially when all you want to do is a down dog and stretch your back. I ramped up my mediation during this time to help me accept that my physical practice will halt and I will loose some gains I had been making in my own practice, in particular my pincha which was a hard pill to swallow.
I really believe these things are send it try us, having been through 3 orthopaedic operations in the last 18months (I do hope no more are in the horizon.. manifest to the injury gods), but I am trying to stop and listen to what is causing these as often emotional energy can manifest in physical space.
I will continue to rehab my hand and a long running tendonitis in my elbow caused by over extension. I had been avoided going to experts to fix my tendonitis thinking I could solve it alone, but it is time to practice what I preach and actually fix my elbow and hand once and for all.
Remember injuries pass, so all it requires is some adaptation and you can keep up your routines, lifestyle and general fun!