Photo: Victoria Davis
After a successful elbow stand (!!) in CampYoga last weekend, I was mid-chaturanga when my body went from flowy to frozen without the slightest warning. Right there, as I hovered inches above the ground, my neck and shoulders seized up and opted out. Movement denied.
For the first time, the yogi phrase “…if it’s available to you today,” really hit home. The only movement that was available to me was a panicky grimace. I was stuck, and the trembling in my triceps couldn’t override my shoulders’ decision to stop. right. here.
I finally negotiated my way out of my suspended pushup, and with great difficulty went into an early savasana, completely immobilized above my armpits and thoroughly confused by the mutiny in my muscles.
I finished the class in savasana, with the added bonus of a neck rub by the instructor. Even with the help of her magic hands, though, my neck didn’t move for the rest of the day.
Or the next day.
Or the day after that.
I tried all sorts of remedies during those motionless days: Advil (moderately helpful), a massage (hurt-so-good but ultimately unhelpful), and more yoga (big mistake).
It’s been 5 days now, and I can mostly turn to look at things by turning my neck, instead of swiveling from my waist.
My shoulders, on the other hand, are still not right.
I’ve had plenty of time in the last few days to muse on my condition, since I haven’t been able to do much else! I’ve realized how much I take for granted that my body will be there, ready for me, when I ask it to perform. I expect it to rise to the occasion and at least attempt, even if it can’t succeed. Being reminded that I’m not in charge has been a disconcerting wake-up call. Sometimes it really isn’t an option to stay in downward dog for three breaths. Sometimes a movement as simple as a forward bend just isn’t available. Sometimes glancing over your shoulder before you back up your car is an impossibility.
This weird experience has helped me to better locate the line between can’t and don’t want to. It’s a line that’s always been a little fuzzy for me—distinguishing between lack of desire and lack of ability has never been my strong suit. In this case, that line has been crystal clear, and as rigid as my frozen upper body. It’s a lesson I hope to take to yoga, running, silks, and everything else I do, once I’m back in action.
Because I will be back in action.
Have you ever had your muscles seize up on you? How did you remedy the situation? How do you deal with running smack into your own limitations?