Its been years since I have had a serious cold, but this Winter I had been struck down with a virilant pesky strain of flu that I could not shake.
4 weeks of sinus congestion and a cough left my body weak and strained. Little wonder that after a lovely but challenging hike with the girls I got a more pressing reminder to slow down as I had a 5 hour bout of stomach flu, making me retch so violently that my ribs felt like I had been smashed with a sledge hammer.
Bruised or possibly cracked ribs are far from painless and walking, sleeping and of course coughing was extremely painful, yet as teaching is my profession and I need to work, I had to find a way to manage the pain and hope to speed up my recovery.
3 weeks later, after resting when I could, no weight bearing upper body poses like plank and down dog, no inversions, no deep twists and no back bends I finally feel like my body is on the mend. (I expect a few more weeks at least)
Recovery from bruised ribs teaches so much more than how to deal with pain management as a yoga instructor. I had to refine my teaching skills as many of the poses I was instructing my students in was not possible for me to demonstrate. (the deer in headlights look from some students reminded me that I still have a lot to learn)
As ever, my practice turned to the water, but early on I found that frontal resistance by extending my arms out to the sides was excruciating as the water mass when moving, made for a painful reminder that healing is not as simple as getting into the water this time. Even stepping out of the water in the early weeks into the gravitational field gave me a painful reminder that I have to be patient. This is not a quick fix.
I kept my arms by my side and did a little water walking, but I found the most important part of the healing came from practicing pranayama in the water. I snuggled down under the 85% water and just let my arms float up to the surface and practiced ujjayi or victorious 3 part breathing. I struggled at first as my breath had become shallow but was very aware that I could develop pneumonia if I did not correct the bad habit I had developed. (I think I did have it before the rib incident however and took a week of antibiotics)
I tried floating on my back when the pain subsided somewhat and this was great as I could not lie down on my back on the floor or in bed for weeks.
My body is still far from healed, but I find that just getting into the water and practicing pranayama is so beneficial for me right now.
I teach a few restorative classes each week and a few weeks back could not even lie in a supported supta baddhakonasasna (seriously)
As ever, the water has proved to be a medium of healing as well as a coping mechanism on an emotional level. It really is scary when the body does not feel well.
Like anyone who has been injured, compassion and patience with one's self is a virtue to be embodied at this time.
Do let me know if you have been through this and what you did to help.
In the Kriya Dharma,