June 2020: On Injuries

Yajña, on 7 June 2020.
At the end of May, I fell on my toe heavily on a transition from chair pose, a posture I do many times daily and is very familiar to me. I took my eye off the ball. My toe was badly bruised, and moving my foot was painful. It is a small miracle that it was not broken and perhaps a testament to the strengthening power of ashtanga style yogasana.

This incident made think about how injuries are teachers, as Rosina often used to say. When I was studying with Sudhir last summer, we looked very closely at Yoga Sutra 2.47: prayatna shaithilya ananda samapattybhyam. It means: lessening the effort and with the mind focusing on the infinite. It describes how asana should be practiced.

A posture, any posture, yoga or otherwise, has two parts: the first is the getting in and out of it (think of getting in and out of your bed, or into a car, or the chair pose I injured myself in), and the second is the state of the asana, the place of stillness where you might spend some time. Prayatna shaithilya, lessening the effort, is how the first part (the dangerous part) should be practiced, and ananda samapattybhyam, with the mind focusing on the infinite (and not one’s shopping list) is how we should be in the state. But we don’t do the second part very well and we completely ignore the first a lot of the time, thinking transitions are not the asana. I injured myself because I strained trying to come out of chair pose in a handstand tuck, effortful, with the mind focusing on the next thing and not the present. A sure recipe for disaster.

During my injury, I continued to practice. There is always something to practice and I don’t mean getting into postures with aching toes. One needs to listen to what is needed, never force, and go to the doctor where appropriate. One also needs some pulling back and some rest. I practiced patience, loving-kindness towards my body, and gratitude. I gained invaluable physical self-knowledge about the patterns of my body. Yoga is more than asana. I practiced Sutra 2.47, lessening the effort of my feet, my breath, my mind, and listening to subtleties of my body, my eyes (their flickering indicating the infinite was not where I was focusing), and the beauty of a having a practice that supports my bruised toe. I healed.

Laura x

What I have been watching

Humour is a great healer of all things physical and mental. I will share with you something that is not yoga related but made me laugh joyously. By chance, I discovered poet Murray Lachlan Young’s YouYube channel, through a talk he gave for The Idler. He read some poetry created during lockdown. In his videos, the poems are set to music by Paul Hartnoll from Orbital. ‘I need a haircut‘, ‘At the Garden Centre‘, ‘I’ve got a delivery coming‘, and ‘Coffee shop coffee‘ are my favourites. They are perceptive, funny, very true (to me and our lovely morning practice group) and catchy. You will be singing them all day long. Singing heals!
What I have been practicing
Compassion towards the body that hurts and cannot do what it once did, towards the recovering body, is a key element of healing any form of injury and suffering.
On the 17th June, my teacher Kia gave a talk on Awakening The Compassionate Heart in response to the deep suffering caused by the the murder of George Floyd. This week, she said that no hate was ever conquered by hate, only by love. We are living through quite heightened forms of suffering in the world and we also suffer with our bodies, wanting them to be different, to perform differently. This beautiful talk will inspire you to act in the skilful way yoga advocates.
What I have been reading

Physical self-knowledge is absolutely priceless when it comes to managing injuries. David Keil and his Yoganatomy website are my first points of call in injury and injury prevention. He has got me out of some troubles, especially with pinging knees and sore shoulders, the two most common injuries in yoga.His book is fabulous and he takes reader’s questions, which he answers in videos. Oh, and he is giving two workshops at Glasgow’s Merchant City Yoga in July!
What I have been listening to

As I will not send a newsletter next month, I am giving you a bonus resource to keep you going. I have been listening to this wonderful conversation between Scott Johnson and Deepika Mehta as part of the ever joyous Stillpoint Yoga podcast. Deepika talks about how a life-threatening injury when she was a dancer brought her to yoga. She listened to that injury-teacher!
In July, I will be traveling to Spain (fingers crossed), to see my family and practice with Kia in the beautiful southern Spanish mountains. She still has a couple of places left if you want to join us. It is a magical retreat.

I need a proper break. Lockdown has been anything but restful! I will attempt to pause, lessen the effort and truly focus my mind on the infinite nature of the present moment. The photograph above, by the way, is my computer desktop image. It has kept me going the whole year.

I will also take a break from this newsletter in July and I will see you again at the end of August, hopefully with news of in-person classes, a restored self and plenty of new teachings from Kia.


All of my open classes are off until the quarantine in the UK is lifted. A few of us meet twice a week on zoom to self-practice together 8-10am and then we stay on for a chat. Please email me if you want to join us. No need to know the sequence, I can send you a cheat sheet!

I am also available for pranayama one-to-one sessions online (introductory or following up your practice) in August. I may also run some classes if there is enough interest.

I have been attending Maureen Thorpe‘s zoom classes and Judi Farrell’s Sunday Counted Primary at Merchant City Yoga. Both are a joy and you should try them! Please email me for details.

I have also been doing some zoom counted classes with Sharath and I will hopefully join this ‘Half First Series and Half Second Series Makes for Full Fun’ session with David Swenson. the lockdown has thrown some real opportunities to practice with far away teachers!