Wa Yo Yogi

Leanne Kitteridge's adventures in Yoga

Painful Setback December 5, 2007

Filed under: yoga — shibuiyoga @ 6:59 am
Tags: , , ,

If you are one of my students you will constantly hear me harp on about staying aligned to prevent injury- especially major ones like hamstring attachments and rotator cuff injuries. For those of you not familiar with my teaching style, or who just read my blog for fun, let me tell you the one most common misconception about yoga- it is not gentle, flowing, and all soft and sweet. It is hard, sweaty, heart pounding and it can run the risk of injury- especially in the higher level poses.

In the process of demo-ing a harder pose, visvamitrasana, ( think arm balance, splits and twist at the same time) I heard a loud pop ( apparently my SI joint).  Though I had no pain at the time, a dull ache developed in the hip and hamstring shortly afterwards. ( hamstring tear??)

Why, if I am so careful, did I get injured you may ask? Three things occurred-

1) I was not warmed up as much as I should have been for such a deep pose- hazard of being a teacher

2) I overemphasised the actions in the demo so the students could more easily see them and went beyond my range of motion

3) Not enough muscular energy. Before I spiraled my leg I should have pulled my heel back towards my hip to better seat the femur in the hip socket.

I brought a yoga book to my physio today and pointed to the picture of visvamitrasana and in the words of my wonderful teacher Christina said,  “This is the pose I was doing when I injured myself and this is the pose I want to be able to do again“.

He looked at me and said- “Oh- this makes so much more sense now ” and then proceeded to throw IMS needles into my buttock flesh. His diagnoses- SI popped out of range and stressed the whole hip and put the glute and hamstring into spasm and probably a micro tear in my hamstring.

Good. It is not as bad as I thought. They funniest thing was my teacher just sent me- after I told her I injured myself- this crazy practice called “Eye if the Tiger”. I mean- there are poses in there I had to look up because I have never heard of them!! It could be a while before I get to practice that one! Oh…and its three hours long! God bless her- I swear she sees more in me than I see in myself.

Well  you can injure youself in yoga but, with Anusara techniques, you can also heal yourself. Everything that happens is for a reason. I figure I needed to cultivate more knowledge on hamstring injury and more awareness of muscle energy in my legs. I know get to use my knowledge to start to heal myself.

Every setback is an opportunity to learn. Every opportunity to learn makes me a better teacher.

I just wish the bag of ice under my butt wasn’t so uncomfortable……..


5 Responses to “Painful Setback”

  1. Christina Says:

    Hey- this is god news. The SI joint was the pop, not the hamstring! Excellent. Glad to hear it.

    That practice, according to legend, was given to Desiree Rumbaugh by John Friend like 10 years ago. He looked at her, said, “I love you Des, but you just are not strong enough. Do this.” Anyway- at her studio they do it three times a week alternating the 3-hour backbend day and the 3-hour forward bend/inversion day. When the two practices are combined, it is called Eye of the Tiger. So when you meet her, you will notice how strong she is and you can all know that she built that strength and how.

    So 7 years ago, she gave me a copy of those practices, I practiced them a lot over the years- I still do- and now I am passing the love along to you guy up there. Once you are mended, you will have a fun, yet oten-times-humbling experience playing with those sequences together.

    Word of caution- do not attempt to practice these sequences alone. In the beginning you must utilize group support!

  2. June Stead Says:


    Last Sunday morning I was performing a third set of standing bow pulling pose when I heard a loud pop and fell to the ground. Stupidly, i didn’t want to create a fuss, I was in denial of the injury and wasn’t in agonising pain so I continued. One posture, Janu sirsanas, was impossible to perform.

    My teacher (a former nurse) didn’t come over to me and at the end told me to have a warm bath.

    I was limping quite badly for a couple of days but having pulled hamstrings before I knew this wasn’t quite the same. Just having read your blog I realise I pushed my SI joint out and probably have a few minor tears. I told a friend at the time it felt like a joint had become momentarily displaced but he said I would have been in agony.

    I’ve done quite a bit of research and to be honest am now a bit afraid of further injuring myself. I realise how important it is to be careful and aware. I was pushing it at the time. I often do. I also realise how unaware some yoga teachers are and how they can push without regard for potential injury.

    I don’t know when I can go back and what I can do safely. Its making me quite depressed if I’m honest. I Love my yoga.

    Your blog was very helpful and has made me think hard about my practice. Its also made me question my teachers!! I don’t blame them at all, I’ve been practising for 8 years, I have just come to realise that they are not really that aware. They seem to find injuries embarassing and can be quite dismissive. It is a Bikram Yoga class.

    Kind regards


  3. shibuiyoga Says:

    Hi June-

    Well the first thing I would do is find a very good physiotherapist and get an assessment done. You need to know what you did in order to heal and to prevent it from happening again. Some of the newer physio’s are up on new techniques like IMS and tend to have more success. If you can find a physio familiar with Tom Myers- the Author of “Anatomy Trains”- you are on to a good one.

    Once you are on the road to healing you need to take a look at your practice. All teachers are trained differently. Some have hundreds of hours in training and practicums and others get certified in a weekend. Depending on where you live will determine what is available to you. Anusara and Iyengar certified teachers are some of the top trained in the world. Other traditions such as Kripalu and Integral also have long trainings. You want a teacher- no matter their style- to have extensive training and knowledge. You need to find a teacher that knows how to keep you challenged but creates an environment that is safe and allows you to play the edge without falling off it.
    check out http://www.anusara.com and see if you have a certified teacher in your area. Tell them your injury ( once you have a diagnosis) and they can give you appropriate modifications for the poses they teach. If you cannot find a certified teacher a highly trained inspired Anusara teacher or Iyengar teacher is a great option.
    Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  4. June Stead Says:

    Hi Leanne,

    Thank you for your reply and sound advice. I live on the island of Jersey, a small tax haven in the english channel (9 miles by 5 miles), 100 miles from England and 14 miles from France.

    Because of the size of the island, we are very restricted in our choice of yoga practices and teachers unfortunately.

    We do however have some very good physio’s I’ve been told! I’ve never used one before. So I will get checked out and find out for sure what I am dealing with.

    Once again thank you and I will let you know how it goes.

    Kind regards, namaste


  5. Melissa Says:


    I am new to Yoga and have been practicing since February. At first just once a week at a Sunday morning beginning class, and as I fell in love with how yoga was impacting all aspects of my life I have gradually increased. I’m now committed to a twice a week beginner’s class and add one more “all levels” class in on the weekends. I am a complete devotee and am just so thrilled to be doing yoga, and to know that I can deepen my practice for the rest of my life – what a GREAT great exercise for mind, body and spirit.

    Anyway, I can’t quite recall when exactly, but recently in a class I felt a bit too much strain in my hamstring (high up by my bottom, near the sits bones, I guess) while doing a forward bend/flex? from a seated position. I didn’t pay much attention to it because I have very tight hips from sitting in an office all day, and have recently been seeing a naturopath/chiropractor/massage therapist for my SI joint, which gets “stuck” from all of my sitting and then not moving… so you see how much I needed Yoga. And I just figured it was tightness. (I’ve been relatively sedentary all winter and not as familiar with my body as I should be I guess.)

    Yesterday after Yoga my hamstring felt sore – but not a sharp pain – and I was rubbing it as I left class. Today when I changed after work (to go to Yoga) I noticed nasty bruises all up and down the back of my thigh. I was shocked, and a little worried, and instantly went online to search for some combination of “hamstring, bruises and yoga” – and thankfully found your blog. I guess I injured my hamstring.

    SO, I’m skipping class tonight and trying to determine if I should ICE, HEAT or gently stretch (or nothing)? I’m worried that I can’t do yoga anymore… but I will ask my instructor about modifications tomorrow night. I don’t want to give up my new practice. I am sooo bummed.

    But a lesson, definitely, about pushing myself and listening to my body. Oh blessed Yoga, you never stop teaching!

    So thanks for the post!

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