Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 5 - Petr Svoboda's left shoulder

The pain in my left shoulder isn't much better today, but I have a renewed respect for injuries, and sometimes I need a reminder that every injury I've had has made me a better and more compassionate yoga teacher. Today this was reconfirmed.

Yesterday while I was whining about how tired I was and blaming my lack of focus on alignment screw-ups, I failed to see how hurting my left shoulder could actually serve a greater purpose. You see, for the past year I've been working with retired hockey pro Petr Svoboda. Since we started practicing together, Petr has talked about the pain in his left shoulder to which I've prescribed chest opening postures and exercises that loosen the shoulder girdle. Although some of the postures offer temporary relief, there has been little lasting results. Granted Petr was somewhat inconsistent with his yoga this winter and his injury stems from two fractured cervical vertebrae incurred during the 2001 hockey session while playing with Tampa Bay, but today we bonded over our mutually sore shoulder and together we developed a new sun salutation. (Sorry, no photos of Petr and I today. There wasn't anyone around to take our picture, so I posted this picture of his hockey card. Once our sore shoulder relief surya namaskar is perfected, we'll do a little video for you folks.)

What I find most interesting about my injuries or my traumas is that they usually occur at the same time as one of my students is experiencing the same thing. It's as if the universe created the pain within my body or my life, so I could better understand the student and be of greater assistance in the healing process. This was certainly the case a few years ago with the compressed discs in my lower back and the sciatic pain I endured for over a year, as well as with a former hamstring strain that last more than six months. When my students asked me about injuries, I used to say, "You name it, I've had it or done it." All of it, particularly my back problems, has led me to the thorough investigation of yoga as healing science, which is why I'm now so into my ayurvedic studies.

Seeing as The Petr Svoboda Sun Salutation isn't ready for broadcast, today I'm continuing to work on the spine with the Cat Salute, although my friend Ali has another name for it...

Surya Namaskar Recipe - Day 5: The Cat Salute

1- Standing in Mountain Pose, INHALE, stretch arms over head.
2- Keeping the knees slightly bent, EXHALE, fold forward, hands to shins.

3- INHALE and lengthen the spine.

4- EXHALE, step back to all fours-- shoulders over hands, hips over knees.

5- INHALE, pause.

6- EXHALE, round the back, bringing chin to chest, lifting
navel to spine, and tucking tailbone under.
7- INHALE slowly arch the back in the opposite way by softening between the shoulder blades, reaching the heart forward and looking up with a long neck.

8- EXHALE, round the back.
9- INHALE, arch and extend the tailbone back to decompress the lower back.
10- EXHALE, round.
11- INHALE, arch and tuck the toes under.
12- As you EXHALE, shift back into downward dog for two-five deep breaths.
hands down beside your chest and tuck the toes under.

13- After two to five breaths, press down through your palms, INHALE and
step, walk or jump forward. Lengthen your back.
14- EXHALE, forward bend.

15- Feeling the feet solid on the floor, INHALE and rise to a standing extending the arms over head.

15- EXHALE, slowly lower hands to heart.

Anyone can do yoga!
Here are some facts about featured yoga student Petr Svoboda's professional hockey career:

Petr Svoboda played for the NHL for 15 years. He was selected fifth overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens and won the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1986.
He also participated in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan, winning a gold medal with the Czech team. Petr scored the only goal in the gold medal game against Russia.

NHL points 1984-85 to 2000-01:
Regular Season
Games played 1028
Goals 58
Assists 341
Points 399

Games Played 127
Goals 4
Assists 45
Points 135
Legends of Hockey - Bio Petr Svoboda

*Thanks to Magic/Awesome Craig Bannerman for the today's photo and hockey stats.

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