Yes, it kind of seems obvious for some people. But even an accomplished yoga adept can easily get injured if one doesn’t respect one’s abilities. I have been practicing Yoga for over three decades now and there are times when I take time off or my practice goes a bit lax. By this I mean my practice gets limited to once or twice a week for shorter sessions. Unless when I was down due to medical conditions or I was on extended vacation, I have not really missed practice. As the body ages, we know that the body loses flexibility if it is not conditioned, but also the rate of losing flexibility increases. I just came back from India my practice was about 10 minutes session 2-3 times over two weeks. However, after coming back it got more lax and into my second week, I had only one practice session. Many of the postures come easy enough after a break just because the body uses certain parts more than others. These are the feet and ankles for Vajrasana, shoulders for Gomukhasana. Other weight bearing postures are also easily accomplished without a continuity, in asanas such as Vashistasana or Shvanasana. However, when it comes to Paschimmottanasana, it is a totally different story. The body loses flexibility at an alarming rate when it comes to the middle. And the tissues surrounding the hip-joints laze into stiffness as if they had a drink-fest. My recent attempts in the forward bend and side bends was satisfying after the hiatus, but little did I realize that I was pulling sore muscles then. Two days later, I can still feel the soreness and breathing itself is hard sometimes as the movement hurts – oops! Forget coughing or getting up. Luckily it isn’t so bad. Once, about ten years back, I had pushed myself into the chakras an and in the middle of the night as I lay in bed, I realized I couldn’t move one inch or even a millimeter – the center of my lower back had immobilized. I managed to get to ER and after X-rays, the doctors determined it was a minute muscle tear and it took another 3-4 days for me to get decent mobility to turn over in bed.
This incident has taught me to respect my body’s ability or inability and not to push myself but to give more than enough time to get back to shape. If it takes 4 weeks or even a couple of months to be on track, so be it. It is important to get back to practice and enjoy. While limitations prevent you from a full session, you can always enjoy that immense peace you get in meditation.