Injury as Opportunity: Overcome Yoga Roadblocks, Part 1

Jill Miller by Jill Miller | February 4th, 2009 | 2 Comments
topic: Yoga

Natarajasana, accomplished while healing a hamstring injury.
Natarajasana, accomplished while healing a hamstring injury

We all know that yoga practice is not always bliss. Sometimes it seems to turn on us, triggering issues that cause us to approach our practice with reticence. Over the years of teaching Yoga Tune Up®, I’ve heard many concerns that get in the way of one’s practice, but there are three that tend to be biggest. Below is Part 1 in a 3-part series suggesting a few strategies to use when these roadblocks arise.

Roadblock #1: “I have an injury preventing me from going deeper!

Injuries are a bummer. No one wants to be in pain. It’s important to not dwell on the inconvenience of your injury but rather create an environment of healing within yourself. That environment starts first with establishing an inner mental attitude that chooses (in spite of the pain) to see the injury as an opportunity; an opportunity to learn more about the area that’s in pain, along with how and why it’s injured — then dive into strategies that help support those tissues that are suffering.

This will take a proactive stance on your part to seek out information, help, and treatment. In the process though, you will learn a lot about your attitude toward your body, your practice and your own levels of trust and fear. Have faith; your body is a miracle. Tissue is living and it will regenerate if you give it time, patience and love. The key here is to learn what led to the injury and then build new habits within your practice to ensure it doesn’t get repeated.

I remember nursing a hamstring injury for nearly two years, which meant virtually no forward bends — but it gave me the time to work on my core and my back! The payoff came when I achieved backbends like Natarajasana (the Dancer) that I had only dreamed of.

Backing off an injured area compels you to focus on other poses that may need to be strengthened in order to support the injured area, as well as other areas that have been given the short shrift prior to the injury. Injuries can often be a blessing in disguise when treated properly within your practice.

Survey yourself. What are the chief complaints you have about your practice? Is there a way to use the negatives to see a bigger picture for personal growth and evolving your practice? From that new view, you will overcome the huge hurdle of feeling that your practice is weighing you down as opposed to buoying you up.

I wish you all the best and I welcome your personal stories and comments.

Stay tuned for Part 2 …


Check out Jill’s Yoga for Weight Loss Workout Kit from Gaiam and her related post How Can ‘Om’ing and Bending Help You Lose Weight?


  1. What about when you overcompensate for an injury. I’m very flexy, but I always end up getting hurt because if something is tight, i overextend somewhere else. Any tips you have would be great.

    Rachel | February 5th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  2. Hi Rachel,
    An injury is our bodies way of telling us to pull back on our practice and to become more aware of HOW we practice. Being super flexible has its advantages in photographs, but it can be deceptively complicated to truly find stability when a body is so open. To avoid “over-stretching” I suggest that you learn to begin to use PNF stretches while doing your practice. This involves contracting the very muscle that you are attempting to stretch so that you don’t go beyond it’s limit just because your joint has that super open capacity. An example of a simple stretch with PNF; as you go into a forward bend, contract the hamstrings instead of just letting them lengthen.

    This topic merits a much longer discussion, you have inspired me to blog about it! Look for it in the not-to-distant future. In the meantime, check out this recent article where I discuss this very issue in LA Yoga Magazine:

    AND find more practice info on my DVD by Pranamaya: Yoga Link – Hip Helpers.
    I wish you all the best! Jill

    Jill Miller | February 6th, 2009 | Comment Permalink

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