Yoga has always been challenging for me, but it just got really hard. I’m pissed ’cause I had a feeling it would be like this, but I still feel like this snuck up on me: YOGA GETS HARDER THE LONGER YOU PRACTICE IT, NOT EASIER.
I’ve been having wrist pain in my right wrist for the past few months, chalking it up to lugging around a really heavy steel-frame bike. It turns out the reason my wrist is hurting is because I haven’t been engaging and activating my forearms and biceps properly in weight-bearing poses. Not distributing the weight correctly through my palms and fingers has set me up to experience searing pain in two specific poses, one of which we do about every two minutes in a regular Vinyasa class. Searing pain 45 times each 90-minute class, four or five times a week. Nope, I’m not about that life.
Just as you have an arch in your foot (I say YOU specifically because *I* have very flat arches and this is another problem we won’t even get into right now), you should have a teeny “diamond” of an arch visible in the heel of your hand when you’re moving through plank pose down into chaturanga, and in all weight-bearing poses (like Downward Dog, side plank, etc. etc.).
I DON’T HAVE HAND DIAMONDS! I’VE NEVER HAD HAND DIAMONDS WAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH.
Anyway, doe. This is causing some PTSD-type attitude in me because the first year of my serious ballet training was spent with a shitty teacher who never corrected sickled feet or talked about how to activate your inner thigh muscles vs the top of the thigh. I was nine years old, and these are hard things to teach yourself at age nine. When I transferred to an excellent dance school in 5th grade, I had to re-learn foundational aspects of dance which was fine BUT my anatomy was jacked up because I now had weak ankles and overdeveloped top thigh muscles.
This feels like the same thing. (My teacher assures me he got over the same injury in three months. And now I have yoga homework. Bah!) While my teachers are EXCELLENT and have always expressed verbally how to distribute weight in the hands, this is a hard thing to learn. It’s also a subtle thing that’s hard to catch as a teacher unless you’re maybe laying underneath your student on your stomach watching the backs of her hands (totally inappropriate unless you do some type of yoga I haven’t found yet). As you might expect, activating your forearms and biceps takes weight and pressure out of your delicate wrists while bringing more stability and balance to every position where you need your hands.
At the end of our one-on-one practice last week, my teacher said: “Here’s to putting in the work to change our patterns.”
AH-HA. There it is. Yoga is just like any other area of my life. If I want to kick ass or move past some personal wall I have up, I have to bust through whatever is holding me back and then put in the hours to develop and live a new mindset. A mindset is a pattern.
It’s weird how much my yoga practice parallels my life, or teaches me about my life. A pattern becomes a pattern by putting in the time to etch those grooves in the rock. Alleviating the pressure you feel in certain areas of your life brings balance to the whole. You can’t hold a pose balancing your entire body’s weight on your forearms if you aren’t using the arm muscles right. I can’t get a different result interacting with the same person if we’re both living the same tired patterns we’ve been zombie walking for years.
“Here’s to putting in the work to change our patterns.”