Monday, January 14, 2013

Cranky Shoulder or, Another Reason to Meditate

I took my cranky shoulder to an aerial yoga class today.  I strained it or something in my aerial class yesterday, and was supposed to be resting it.  Fortunately for me there were other real shoulder injuries in the room that were being accounted for, so the whole class was focused on proper alignment, and bringing your back muscles into play so less pressure is put on the shoulder and elbow joints.  Of course I had to take every pull-up, jump through, and inversion offered, but as we went through a variety of conditioning moves, I noticed that I was finding a different way to access the strength needed to lift my body off the ground without upsetting my cranky shoulder.

Which made me wonder if I hadn't messed it up by doing it wrong the day before, my first time back in an aerial class in three weeks (pretty much my longest absence...ever.)  It hadn't occurred to me that I wouldn't automatically go back to integrating my lats and other back muscles when hanging from my arms; it's like riding a bike, right?

The trouble with this 'learn it once and know it forever' model is that we're human, and we humans spend a lot of time doing unnatural things like sitting in chairs, stuffing our faces with refined flour, and staring at little back-lit screens while our thumbs move furiously.  The bad habits get reinforced constantly.  All too often, the good ones don't.  Three weeks may be enough, in my body at least, to derail some of that high-level body consciousness needed to keep my rotator cuffs safe when hanging all of my body weight from one or two arms.

Good to know.

If you've been in that same boat of injuring yourself because you thought you could do something safely that it turned out you couldn't, you may have fought this monster, too: your ego.

When I'm injury-free, I can rock just about any shape you can throw at me in an aerial yoga class.  That may change when it catches on more and there aren't newbs in every single class, which will certainly be for the best since I won't have that opportunity to show off anymore.  It probably shouldn't have surprised me that I was so averse to taking modifications and skipping shapes, but I couldn't afford not to.  I was supposed to be resting my shoulder, and probably shouldn't have been there at all.  My cranky shoulder is a harsh reminder that this isn't a game: a serious injury could sideline me for months or more, but my ego was willing to take that risk so a roomful of strangers wouldn't think I couldn't do a simple jump-through. 

"NOT WORTH IT!" I finally shouted at myself, when the teacher suggested a forward roll into the hammock for savasana. Thank goodness, I could at least put my pouty ego down for a nap after that bruise.  Come to think of it, it was probably my ego, anxious to rebuild my aerial stamina after a long break, and not nearly concerned enough about keeping me safe, that got my shoulder strained in the first place.

Looks like I have more meditation to do.

New Year's Resolution, anyone?  The 28-Day Meditation Challenge is coming up in two weeks!

Meditation is largely about cultivating space in the mind.  Instead of constant chatter and an itch to always be doing, meditation can help you feel at peace without the constant stream of thought, and with allowing room for consideration between thought and action.  A one second pause to pull my shoulder into place and engage my lats could have protected me from injury.  Maybe next time I'll take that pause.

Live Omily,

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