Almost four weeks ago I did something, don’t know what, or when or how, but I twisted my rib and it was very sore. I knew to take it easy for a bit. Incidentally, I had scheduled a surgery to remove a lipoma from my lower back and had waited a long time to do it so even with the sore rib, I went in for the surgery almost three weeks ago. Stitches came out a few days ago. It’s still tender. The rib is better. I am on the mend and slowly easing in after almost a month of little to no physical practice.

I’ve been able to teach the whole time because I need my words more than I need my body to demo, and that has been fine.

But it’s been challenging not to do the practice I love.

I’ve hit this bump before, with the neck injury from the car accident a couple of years ago. It changed so much for me, and I fear talking ad nauseam about these things and sounding like a little old lady complaining about all her ailments.

It’s always shocking to be reminded that my body is aging and I maybe can’t do everything I want to. I still feel, mentally, like I’m about 34, (I’ll be fifty in October). So I get a little indignant. What do you mean I can’t do X,Y and Z? I’m only 34!

It’s also hard when you are a yoga teacher because you know you are a better teacher when you are practicing regularly. When I can’t practice I feel like a schlump. A bit like a gray cloud is hanging over me.

I did meditate almost every day. I am doing “yoga” in other ways. I watched a lot of continuing ed videos and did learn a bunch, but my body craves the asana.

When I go without a physical yoga practice for a while, doubt creeps in. Have I given up? What if it all falls away? (Yoga is something that helps my busy mind not catastrophize, BTW). 

But every time, the second my body is ready, I find myself on my mat, exploring. Where am I now? How do I feel in this pose? How do I feel in this moment?

One time after the car accident I stood at the top of my mat, eyes closed and said silently, as if to my practice itself, “Come back to me.”

Instantly I felt in my heart, “Your practice never left you. You left it.”

I had. I was so sad about what it could no longer be, I was blocking what it might become.

Back on the mat, it’s always right there waiting, greeting me like a dear friend.

Eager. Ready.

No judgement.






3 thoughts on “When you can’t practice for a while…

  1. Joely says:

    I once heard a story from my dear departed teacher Jnani Chapman about a fellow yogi who had been in a major accident and was bed ridden. That student’s teacher called her on the phone and said something like “I hope you are still practicing.” The injured yogi said, “you don’t understand, I’m bed ridden!” The teacher said something like, “no matter, the mind is not bed ridden.” Meaning, we can always do yoga in our minds. I’m sorry I don’t have the details right now to back this up, but I have read somewhere (I’m a medical writer and read a lot of research) that “going through the motions” in the mind can, indeed, have an impact on the body. Short story — next time you cannot physically practice, maybe try “doing” a class in your mind. See what effect it might have. Thank you for this blog. Namaste! (PS I’m a fellow student of Francesca’s, nice to meet you.)


    1. Ilonka Michelle O'Neil says:

      Thank you Joley! (11 months later, just seeing this comment).


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