Although my knee injury, operation and recovery have been primary concerns for my yoga practice, a more modest injury has been holding back my practice for the past two weeks. I jammed my left toe on a one-legged jump-back (my torn meniscus, by the way, is on my right side). When it happened, I barely noticed it. It made a sound like cracking your knuckles. In the evening, it start to swell up. The next morning it was black, blue and purple, and throbbing like mad. I made it to work, but saw my doctor the next day to make sure that nothing serious had happened. He said that at most there was a hairline fracture and there was not much that could be done: I should take some ibuprofen and raise it off the ground when seated, whenever possible. By the end of the week, the bruising had gone away (so it was no longer a source of conversation at yoga class), but it will take weeks to get back to normal.
Even though the injury is getting better, it is a major speed bump for my practice (not necessarily a bad thing). I now refrain from doing jump-backs and jump-forwards in vinyasas. When the toe jam happened, I was really feeling a rush in my practice, which may have caused me to be over-aggressive. I had gone to class four days in a row, and was starting to feel some momentum.
Where the toe injury really hits me is with balance: the big toe plays a big role in keep the foot (and the rest of the body) level. It’s probably better to rely more on the sole of the foot (the old “four corners” mantra) as the touch points of balance, but a jammed toe affects the foot all the way back into the ball of the foot and then up the leg.