Before YTT, I’d dabbled in yoga here and there throughout the years, casually going for classes every so often. Being naturally quite flexible, I was able to do a lot of postures that required decent flexibility, such as hanumasana, forward folds, backbends etc. Teachers often wrote me off as being good at yoga and never paid me too much attention, leaving me to my practice on my own. Unforunately, perhaps no one was aware that I was only relying on flexibility to enter these poses, instead of technique.
I had been working out regularly for a few years with lower back pain slowly creeping up on me until a disastrous crossfit incident triggered intense sciatica in my left side. It was a simple tire flip, however, years of not learning proper technique meant that my hypermobile spine allowed me to get into a deep squat without me engaging my core to keep my spine straight. As I lifted, I felt a burning sensation shoot through my body and I limped away not knowing what had happened to me.
Instantly, I went from someone who could easily drop back into a wheel or get an A for sit-and-reach to someone who couldn’t even bend over the sink to brush her teeth. The left side of my body burned whenever I sat, stood, slept, walked or EXISTED and it took two years of slow rehab for the sciatica to gradually subside. I’m thankful that it did get better, however I still struggle with on-and-off back pains and residual sciatica in my left hamstring.
Throughout YTT, with my newfound reduced flexibility, I’ve had to acknowledge my body’s limits and re-learn how to approach asanas with technique instead of flexibility. It was a humbling experience, and a much safer one at that, although I often found myself frustrated thinking “I used to be able to do that! Will I ever be able to again?”. As YTT comes to an end and I continue on with my yoga journey, I feel excited to continue re-learning how to move my body properly and safely. It is far more important to me that I can move and practice for many more years to come, than to be able to show off all sorts of funky poses but end up injured and out of the game entirely. I’ve learnt to let go of my ego and the ideal of “I have to be able to do this pose”, and instead focus on tuning in to my body and its limitations.
To all my flexi friends out there: just because you CAN get into a pose, because you are flexible, doesn’t mean you should. Please learn the proper technique and muscle engagement to safely enter a pose or you really might be at more risk of getting injured than a non-flexi person and it’s terrible being injured! We want to be in it for the long run!