Posted by: Bruce Black | April 1, 2017

Becoming More Mindful

You know that moment in Chatarunga Dandansana (Four Limbed Staff Pose) when you are holding yourself in Phalakasana (Plank Pose), and then you bend your elbows and lower yourself to the ground?

I can’t do it anymore without hurting my right wrist.

For weeks I tried to ignore the pain.

I listened to my teacher’s instructions.

I gripped the mat harder with my finger pads until the tips of my fingers turned white.

I pressed the inner ball mound of my palm flatter on the mat so there was no space under it.

But these suggestions, while helpful, didn’t alleviate the pain.

So I designed a practice at home that didn’t include Chatarunga.

Instead, I practiced Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) and Phalakasana with more mindfulness.

When I put my fingers down on the mat for balance in Lunge, I took care not to put too much weight on my right wrist.

In Trikonasana (Triangle), too, I had to be careful how I lowered my hand to the mat.

It wasn’t long before this carefulness, this mindfulness, made its way off the mat and into my life.

While brushing my teeth in the morning and at night, I noticed that I held the electric toothbrush in my hand a certain way, but, if I changed my grip and lowered my elbow an inch or two, I could eliminate the pain.

Cooking, I had to take care cutting with a knife, whether it was chopping carrots, peeling potatoes, or simply slicing bananas.

Lifting the filtered water pitcher off the counter was a challenge because the pitcher was heavy when filled, and pouring it required vigilance so that I didn’t wrench or twist my wrist.

The simple act of using a fork, lifting my glass, or turning a door knob was filled with pain if I wasn’t fully attentive to the action and how it involved my wrist.

Throughout the day I noticed how I relied on my hands and wrist to help steer a car, hold a pen, and type on my laptop.

Thanks to my yoga practice, I learned to become more aware of my wrist and how I might use (or misuse) it throughout the day.

Now when I come to Chatarunga as one of the poses in the sequence of poses in our class, I take special care to notice how my wrist feels and to modify the pose, if needed, so that I don’t feel any pain.

I press my finger pads and my index finger ball mound into the mat.

I try to notice if my forearms are placed too widely apart or too narrowly together, if my hands are too far forward of my shoulders or too far back.

It’s taken weeks of mindfulness for my wrist to feel  better.

And I have yoga to thank for helping me become more mindful of a part of my body that I had taken for granted.

Practice journal: Do you feel any pain when you practice? How does yoga help you notice the pain and become more mindful of ways to avoid pain? What steps have you taken to address the pain on and off your mat? Write: 10 min.

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