A Bad Knee?

One day in yoga class my teacher Mark asked, “Is that your bad knee?”   A knowledgeable and compassionate teacher, Mark knew about my injury and wisely asked before correcting my alignment.

I’m surprised by how often people refer to my injured knee as “bad.”  Why do we so quickly label body parts and symptoms as bad?  “I’ve got a bad tooth…stomach…foot… a bad headache…cold…flu.”

“I don’t have a bad knee” I replied.

I knew that Mark was referring to my injury.  I could have just said “Yes” and let it be.

No Bad Body Parts

But everything in me said, “No.  My body is a good body.  Don’t call my body bad.” I felt like mother sticking up for her child.  “Don’t talk dirt about my knee.  You may be the teacher, but that doesn’t give you permission to talk bad about me!”

Mark corrected himself and said, “Okay.  I mean your challenged knee.”

I said it was and he said, “Okay, then I won’t tell you to straighten it.”

I drew my attention to my leg and mindfully worked the knee a bit straighter, sensing the muscles, ligaments and tendons move into a new position.  It felt good to gently push myself.

I am grateful for Mark’s combination of precision in alignment and gentle correction.  He did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.

Speak Up for Yourself

I am also grateful that I love myself enough to not let anyone speak ill of any part of me—including my knee!  Twenty years ago I might not have done that. While I would have challenged someone calling me a bad person, or speaking ill of my loved one, I might not have challenged that same assignment of meaning to my body.

I did for my knee what it couldn’t do for itself—challenge the negative language so commonly used when speaking about physical challenges and symptoms.

Most often it isn’t someone else we need to confront.   We’re our own worst critics when it comes to our bodies.  How often do you judge your body or assign negative labels to your body?

New Ways of Talking About Your Body

It’s difficult to change long-standing behaviors, but practice creates new patterns. The next time you catch yourself speaking badly about your body, see if you can find a kinder way to talk about your aches, pains and problems.  Descriptive language—“I have a sore tooth…a painful headache…an injured knee”—is a more accurate and loving way to talk about yourself.

Be a good mother to yourself–speak lovingly of your body and challenge yourself or anyone else who doesn’t.