I was asked to write a blog post about this question by a student of mine on Facebook. When we are ill we have to respect and listen to our bodies perhaps even more than usual to make sure they have energy to heal. Her question is a great one, I have been asked this many times, so it’s great to get a chance to write more about it. Hopefully it will help you out too.
Illness can vary from just not feeling 100 per cent to something majorly debilitating. Ashtanga Yoga can be very challenging for the body and there may be times where you are simply too ill to do anything. At these times rest and/or medical care may be necessary. After a period of rest if you are used to being active you may be itching to get moving again but not ready to do what you usually do.
It’s good to know what you’re like as a person, as this will help you discern how you approach your recovery. After many years of practice, I know that I am highly motivated and don’t like to miss a practice, so if I think I am too ill to practice, I know I am too ill to practice. When I start practicing again I know I am more likely to do too much than too little, so I know I need to reign myself in. What type of person are you? Are you like me or are you looking for any excuse to take it easy and overly cautious about doing too much. Maybe you have a balanced approach to it all. Get to know your mind so you know when to listen and when to tell it to shut up.
What should you practice? If you’re feeling quite rough and the idea of a sun salutation makes you want to lie down but you want to move. Explore some of your favourite stretches, you won’t be warmed up so move gently and hold the poses a little longer. Listen to your body and do what it intuitively feels it needs. I am not normally a fan of just doing the poses you like but hey if you’ve been ill, cut yourself some slack! Legs up the wall, is a really restorative yoga position to do when feeling unwell. To do this just put your legs up the wall with your back on the ground, if you have tight legs you can be a little bit away from the wall. You can also practice Viparita Karani, which is even better but requires more set up.
Once you’re ready to start doing some sun salutations you can begin to do a more traditional Ashtanga practice. Just get on your mat without an agenda, good advice for any day and see what happens, when you feel you have had enough stop and take your relaxation. If you come to Mysore Style classes, you can easily take this approach in class.
You want to finish your practice feeling better than you did when you started so you have some energy left for your recovery. So take it easy and just be greatful that you have some time to connect with yourself in whatever way you can.
When you are better, you may feel you are not 100 per cent or have lost some of your previous stamina. It is important that when you come back to your yoga class, that you make the practice work for you. If you are my student you are always welcome to miss some vinyasa’s if you need to, rest in child’s pose when necessary. This is true for any day, our bodies are never the same, always changing and through yoga we learn to connect with that and do what’s right for us, now.
Do you have any questions? What would you like me to write about next?