A little over two years ago I had back surgery, an operation that scraped the arthritis from impinging my sciatic nerve and created more space so the same problem would not occur again. Since then, I have had problems with a bulging disc.
I move from being empowered and hopeful to discouraged and bummed out whenever I attempt to begin a workout regimen akin to the one I used to do.
The day Amy Baker offered her class doing inversions at the yoga studio where I first met her, I was nervous yet so excited to challenge myself. The moment I was able to turn myself upside down, I had a shift occur within me. A shift that I am still grappling with today.
The shift goes something like this: I grew up in Colorado where everyone is not just in shape, but must be the best at whatever physical endeavor they undertake. This played out my entire childhood. I became a really good female skier in high school and created a name for myself: I was the girl who would ski anything, would ski anything the boys skied.
It is the only sport I have ever felt graceful doing. I used to say that when I’m on my skis, I feel like a dancer must feel when she’s in the groove, feeling the music and in the flow.
And that’s the thing. I sometimes feel graceful doing yoga. I feel special, like I did as a teenager when I skied, doing yoga.
It is the only activity that has even gotten me close to feeling like I am physically good. That I can actually do things other people only dream of. Skiing gave me this same feeling.
But skiing gave me arthritis. Skiing has hurt me in my body. The sport I love has turned on me.
But the thing is that yoga has given me something else. It has given me hope that I will stay a physical person despite my spinal struggles.
My yoga teachers have helped me not only understand that physicality doesn’t have to hurt my body, to the contrary. That my physicality does not need to be painful and should push not only my body to grow but also my mind. I am so grateful for all they have given me.
To Amy Baker, I am thankful that you have not only turned me upside down thereby changing my view of the world and myself. But I am so grateful for the way she brings me into postures that I never thought I could access, and then afterwards I find myself asking, “How did she do that? How did she get me there?”
To Channing Grivas, I am grateful that I have you to show me what is possible if I stick with my yoga. She shows me that if I commit and grow in my practice I have certain poses and attitudes that will become more and more accessible to me. She reminds me that commitment is worth the effort.
To feel lost in my own physicality has been disconcerting. To have people in my life to guide me and help me see how to reground myself in my physical, mental, and spiritual space has changed my life for the best. For that I am more grateful than I can express.