I hope this message finds you content and healthy. I am on the mend myself. As many of you know, I took a bad fall while hiking two months ago and sprained both knees. For the first two weeks I could not walk. Since I sprained both knees, I chose not to use crutches. I discovered life scooching around the floor. I am immensely grateful for the practice of yoga that gave me the physical strength and mental resolve to move my body despite an injury. I eventually moved off the floor, balancing on my wobbly legs like a newborn foal. At this point I am able to walk, swim and practice yoga with much care. I also found an appreciation for stationary bikes to loosen my stiff knees. I am now a regular at the gym, which is comedic to those of you who know me well.
I have learned so much from the healing process. I imagine anyone who has faced physical or mental roadblocks in life can relate to the lessons I am learning.
The first thing I discovered was humility (atimanita- in the Bhagavad Gita it is defined as the absence of self-importance). When life takes use of both knees, staying humble is pretty unavoidable. Things that came easy prior to being injured became so effortful. I prided myself on my ability to walk fast, move easily and be an energetic person. Practicing yoga with kids for the last decade, I have stayed pretty limber and maintained my level of energy. I now find just getting through the day requires an afternoon nap as my body is expending so much energy healing. Going down the stairs is challenging; each step takes effort and care. I think about the journey of people who have endured major traumas. I am humbled that something much smaller has given my life pause.
I am re-discovering the value of consistent practice (tapas- self discipline). Pattabhi Jois said "Practice and all is coming." My physical therapist said the bike would be my best friend and he wasn't joking. I am at the gym every day, biking for 20-30 minutes, practicing yoga daily and swimming once a week at least. If I don't take the time to care for my body, it will not take care of me. It is a slow process, but each week I find movement easier. So often, we put off caring for our physical and mental well being to care for kids, to work longer hours or re-organize closets (okay maybe that's just me). Caring for our bodies comes intuitively if it is a consistent practice. Mindful movement cultivates awareness of our health on a cellular level. Do you ever get that feeling you need some leafy greens or your body is craving a walk? That is the body speaking. The more we listen, the more we strengthen our mind-body connection. It is truly empowering to know how to care for yourself.
I am practicing compassion (ahimsa- non harming) toward myself. It is easy to get frustrated by what we cannot do. Instead I am actively choosing to focus on what I can do. For the first month, I kissed my swollen knees every day and told them they would heal. How we speak to ourselves has an impact on our physical and mental well being. I refuse to be angry with my body and dwell in sorrow. Have I had days of frustration? Ofcourse! On those days, I find compassion for the journey as well. We take care of our children, our pets, our elders, neighbors...what if we were to take care of ourselves with the same kindness?
I am on the road to recovery and back to teaching perfectly imperfect yoga classes daily! I invite you to join me on the mat, with humility, humour and compassion.