I Spy with my MRI: A Bunch of Injuries from Yoga (and How I Could've Avoided it)

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Hey, Rogue Yogis. Just got my MRI done on the shoulders and hips!

There’s no tl;dr version, so thanks to those that read all the way through. 💜

After months of shoulders and hips clicking, one day I woke up with shoulder pain. Another day I sat up from recording a podcast and my left hip bone popped out of its socket!

Diagnosis: Coracohumeral ligament tear. Stage 2. Edema in both shoulders and left hip.

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After interviewing Garrett Neill and hearing about hip replacements at age 30, I began to shift the way I practiced “hip openers”. As in, not doing them and focusing on hip mobility and natural range of rotation instead.

Then, after interviewing Diane Bruni and learning how her hamstrings just popped right off the bones one day, I hoped I would not experience that myself.

Already teaching injury prevention and balanced movement with asanas well before getting this MRI was a good thing.

But, it might have been a late decision as I was just told that my left femoral head may experience necrosis (death of the bone, leading to a hip replacement or a plasma implantation if it’s past the “experimental” phase).

Maybe it’s NOT too late or we can delay the need for as long as we can.

I post this because I was one of those teachers on IG following those “yoga challenges”, attempting poses before prepping for them properly, pushing past my end range of motion. I thought that if I led challenges like the famous personalities, taught like them, dressed like them...that I would get more followers and be a successful small online yoga business owner.

The irony is that I became so dogmatic about it, it went against my motto of “yoga without the dogma”.

So, what exactly led to this current situation? There's no one specific thing. No specific pose.

One thing's for sure: it was a culmination of many poses that had no anatomical benefit:

Let's list off the past 10 years of this practice:

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  • Doing all those Chaturangas in classes without properly strengthening my upper body to support the weight (dumping most of the weight onto the rotator cuffs)
  • Tons of fast-paced Vinyasas with no attention to form, but fear of not keeping up with the teacher
  • Tons of 50-repped Vinyasas everyday I did Mysore-style Ashtanga practice
  • Warrior I poses trying to square the hips when it’s anatomically impossible for women
  • Transitioning from Warrior I to Warrior II
  • Transitioning from Warrior III to Half Moon Pose/Revolved Half-Moon
  • Transitioning from Standing Splits to Warrior III without giving my standing leg a break (or an opportunity to position the pelvis in a safe way)
  • All the Lotus poses
  • Passive pigeons and getting "adjusted" by teachers in Childs Pose (pressing down on my sacrum, potentially jamming my femur and grinding it into the ligament lining the socket
  • Requesting ”hip openers” in pop yoga classes
  • Tons of Yin Yoga practice and becoming hyperflexible
  • Not supporting the increased flexibility with mobility, stability and muscle strength
  • Obsessing over “alignment” and thinking that if my body made straight lines I would attain enlightenment
  • Probably so much more

After ignoring the pain and the aches in the joints...then finally getting into somatics and developing better self-awareness, it all led me to stop ignoring the pain and get the injuries checked out.

I’m happy to be wiser now to share this story with you. In case there are some of you thinking the way I used to. I only regret teaching thousands of students the very things that led to my potential hip replacement. If we were only a bit wiser, right? I'm dedicated to making better informed choices with what I know right now. 

This doesn't bastardize any of the aforementioned poses, but it does bring to light how they are not a "one size fits all". Your body is different from your friend's, you two get to vary the way you take care of your body from the inside out. 

The blessing in all of this is that I get to really look inward, practice more varied movements, get creative with keeping the muscles from atrophying since I can’t squat or stand for long, and appreciate that it’s not worse.

So, what does this mean for my teaching?

Fortunately, I had already been shifting the focus away from dogmatic towards biomechanics, safety, proprioception (ability to sense the body) and true balance with Mindfulness, Cardio, Elasticity, Stability, Strength with the Flexibility. This only gets better. 

I have started sharing my journey to recovery in film format. I'll also be writing in-depth on each of the bullet points above (and why they no longer make sense to the body). If you're not on my FB yoga page, please "Like" it to stay updated.

The video library is growing fast. There's a lot of content I'm excited to share with you. I hope it benefits your practice before you ever need an MRI like me. 

Just be yourself. Practice what’s true to you. Explore. Experiment. Keep it fun while you keep it safe. 💜

If you experienced necrosis in your femur and/or had a hip replacement, I’d love to read your comments below.

Love,

Julie