Home / Yoga / Journey – Shoulder Injury to Yoga Teacher, 500 RYT

Journey – Shoulder Injury to Yoga Teacher, 500 RYT

It’s interesting how things come full circle. Many years ago I, for some unknown reason, went to a yoga class at Yoga Central. It was TOTALLY outside of my comfort zone. But it made me feel better and I kept going. At the time I had an 8 to 5 which was more like 60 to 70 hours a week, so I had to tell them that I had “an appointment” and if they wanted more details I’d be happy to provide. I didn’t understand it at the time, what this yoga thing was, but I know it made me feel less crazy inside.

guy-doing-pushupThings happened, different job, different life. I had for the most part forgotten about the yoga. Until I went to a yoga class with a friend. And boy, that was fun; the fast pace and challenge of it, though looking back, totally fed into my ego and unhealthy physical drive to push through things. I went to this class and that, but only the classes that were hot and fast…long story short, I ended up with a shoulder injury. Didn’t know it at the time, but there was a pretty decent imbalance in my shoulder joint. So all the push push push in the yoga class hurt hurt hurt my shoulder. Then other muscles needed to compensate and PRESTO. Injury. Imbalance.

I kept going to the classes because I didn’t know at the time what in the world was going on. I thought I could push through it. Fix that darn shoulder.

Again for some unknown reason, I found myself googling about yoga, meditation, yoga trainings and happened upon the Shambhava School of Yoga Teacher training program. I was looking for something. And boy did I find it. The 200 hour RYT program that I took was STELLAR, ROCKSTAR, OUT-of-this-WORLD. And super lucky for me, the teacher had a TON of experience with shoulder injuries. I was “strongly encouraged” to stop doing chatrunga dandasana or you could say push up. I learned a ton about what was going on and how to work to support the shoulder joint. So through lots of patience on my part, and others too, :), I am the owner of some well balanced shoulders.

What  did the trick.  Here it is.

Know who to listen to. Who to practice with. Education. Experience. What does that mean in the yoga world? For those that don’t know about RYT this and that. Yoga Alliance is an association that has standardized the curriculum of yoga teachers. For the BENEFIT of the student. The idea is that if a teacher is a RYT, registered Yoga Teacher, with Yoga Alliance, they have a specific set of knowledge. So that starts at 200 RYT. 200 hours of training. And that is JUST JUST JUST (x10) the beginning. Then comes 200 eRYT. The “e” means they have 1000 hours of teaching experience. Then comes 500 RYT. 500 hours of training with room to specialize and what not. Then 500 eRYT, with the “e” comes TONS of teaching experience.

revolved-side-angle1So…truth time. You don’t have to be a registered teacher to teach yoga. You can teach here. You can teacher there. In a shoe, in a canoe. You can teach yoga from your garage…you get the point. With 200 eRYT you can open a Yoga School teaching other 200 hour students. And know this. 500 RYT  IS JUST THE BEGINNING. It’s like when you graduate from college. You’re just beginning. You have the foundation, and so much in front of you to learn.

What am I saying? Please do not interpret this as Place X isn’t good. And Place Y is better. I’m saying, be an educated consumer. Be smart. Listen to your body. Are you finding more improvement, more balance, more openness?

Why the brash words? Because yoga is different than running, biking, etc. The idea is full range of motion on all joints. Not to mention the other aspects that people just don’t know and understand. Like the difference between back bending and forward bending, and the affects that those actions have in the body.  Check out the next blog for this one…Running, cycling and a lot of other exercises just don’t touch on this. Cool stuff, energy management within the body, in yoga. Just more than just warmup, work and cool down.

Sound foreign to you. Check out the next blog on sequencing. Seriously Cool Stuff.

So, when is the last time you exercised all joint in full range of motion on a regular basis. For instance, running. The hips are a ball and socket, lots of range of motion, and running specifically addressed a small portion of what the hip can do.  A lot of exercises do this. If you got something a bit out of whack…you can really hurt yourself with repetitive motion. Thus the need for an experience teacher that knows whats up, or is willing to look, see, think and learn. I was talking with massage therapist extraordinaire, Paula Moore, and was surprised at what she had to say about how many injuries she sees…from yoga.

So what’s to do. The numbers and letters matter. X00 RYT. The teacher matters. Their training matters. Their heart matters. Their experience matters. And you’re own wisdom matters.

Get some BODY LOVE. Some what!?!? The recipe for healing of my shoulder was a mix of things…and loving on the body was the center idea. (Not that it all felt great, some of it hurt like sweet jeez).

I learned from superstar Sarah Yost, 200 RYT and Life Coach, that my attitude of “fixing that darn shoulder” wasn’t helping anything. And introduced me to trigger point massage. Good stuff there.

Massage is absolutely necessary. My fav =  Paula Moore. Shoulders and knees heal so slow because they don’t have a big blood supply. Massage helps with that, as well as as tons of other things physiologically that I don’t know the words for.

HUGE HUGE HUGE. Pound for pound best bang for any of the bucks I spent. A.R.T, Active Release Technique, with Dr. Jon Messenger. Holy great mother. This one sort of didn’t feel all that great during the treatment. A.R.T is like massage and trigger point and active motion all put together. Hands down…really good stuff. It addresses things quick and fast.

Yin Yoga. Don’t know what yin yoga is. Check out a class with Mary Jane Keith, 500 eRYT. In a nutshell, you hold certain poses a LONG time, maybe 5 minutes. It gives your body time to really stretch and to get into the connective tissue, to reset. Connective Tissue? Google it. Don’t just think “oh my hamstring”, it’s just not that simple.

SunBreeze oil. Warning: wash the hands after application, don’t use too much and keep the stuff anyway from anywhere you wouldn’t put bengay. seriously. Super great stuff though. Available at Yoga Central.

Great Yoga Teachers. Want to be the best. Want to work towards optimal. Got to hang with the best. Look around, look at their training, their experience, listen to what they say, watch them “see their students”. Do they have the little cues to change a just “so-so” pose to a “omg, thats awesome” pose? Do they know what is going on with YOU. Do they tailor a pose for YOU, and then your yoga neighbor too?

So that list is a bit long. But I wonder how much shoulder surgery costs. Short term and long term.

Short Story: My dad has recently had both shoulders pinned, screwed, drilled…might even have some duck tape in there. And when I look to see his limited range of motion that a couple of weeks of physcial therapy got him…oh my heart goes out to him. So that was years and years of imbalance in the shoulder and not happening upon the right person pre-“no way out of surgery” time.

So, the journey from engineer to 500 Registered Yoga Teacher was a super cool experience. I was motivated by my own shoulder injury as well as my dad’s. To work hard and study to be the best teacher that I can be. To help people feel better. To help them help themselves, to allow their bodies to heal themselves. And the cool thing, there’s soooo much more to come. HOOT! So, check out what all the patience, perseverance and time got. And the best part of it all, I can do Mary Jane’s level 3 and my shoulders are silent during AND AFTER. And I’m super glad she doesn’t read blogs because I’d be in trouble next class!!!



If you have a story about how yoga has helped you, please share. Give a comment. Yoga can heal. We need to be telling folks that.


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