Yoga with Erica Mather
Dear Reader, can I tell you a story? Early in my yoga-teaching career I broke my foot. I had a plaster cast from my toes to my knee and could bear no weight. Did I stop doing yoga while my foot healed? NO WAY! Why? Because, yoga is a pathway to the body, and this period of trauma was not the time to cut the connection.
Think of it like this. A dear friend loses their sight. Do you stop visiting just because they cannot see you? Hopefully not! You alter the friendship’s nature to accommodate the situation.
Your body is your best friend, and it needs you more than ever during moments of trauma. Do not abandon your injured parts. Yoga is the energy we use to create a bodily connection; it’s how we form and maintain a relationship with this aspect of our Self. In times of need, stand by your best friend!
People are often bewildered by this story of my broken foot, my cast and me. How did you do yoga like that? Confusion arises because “what yoga is” is confined to their own physical experience, often as an athletic endeavor requiring one’s legs.
But “yoga” can mean many different things, and as a physical practice, it’s adaptable. With my broken foot, I did seated floor work and breathing exercises. I strengthened my abdominals and opened my hips. I stretched out my neck, wrists and arms, which were wrecked from the very hard work of crutching around New York City in the winter. I adapted the practice to what I could do, and prioritized staying connected to a broken, but healing body.
This leads to an important question, which I will take a number of columns to answer.
Q: Should I do yoga when I’m injured?
A: It depends.
Here are few things to keep in mind as you consider whether to go to yoga or not:
- Is your injury acute (meaning presently active and causing you pain)?
- Is it a chronic injury? Do you have a diagnosis?
- How did you acquire it? At yoga? Doing a sport? Just “being”?
- What kind of yoga are you thinking of doing?
- Do you do yoga in a class or with a private instructor?
We’ll tackle some of these scenarios in forthcoming columns. Stay tuned!
Meet Erica Mather
Erica Mather is a natural-born teacher who began teaching at age 17 and now studies pedagogy through education, learning and leadership. She believes that our bodies are our foundational relationship, and created programs, services, and has written a book to support this philosophy. The Adore Your Body System resolves body image challenges; The Yoga Clinic supports students, teachers, and health professionals to learn about empowered self-care for the body; and her forthcoming book (New Harbinger 2020) covers these topics as well. Erica is a Forrest Yoga Guardian, hand-picked by Ana Forrest to become one of a handful of senior teachers in the Forrest Yoga tribe. She teaches at PURE Yoga in New York City, and maintains a full schedule of Yoga Clinic clients, and private Adore Your Body coaching.
Erica Mather, MA, E-RYT, began teaching yoga at age 17 and now studies pedagogy through education, learning, and leadership. She created the Adore Your Body System, which addresses body-image challenges, and the Yoga Clinic, a place where students, teachers, and health professionals can learn about empowered self-care. Erica is a Forrest Yoga Guardian, personally selected by Ana Forrest to become one of a handful of senior teachers in the Forrest Yoga tribe. She teaches at PURE Yoga in New York City, and maintains a full schedule of Yoga Clinic clients and Yoga Clinic teacher trainings.