I’ve been so angry at my body this past year. Angry at it’s impotence. Angry at it’s frailty.
Angry that an injury has prevented me from doing the only physical activity I’ve been able to stick to since I stopped dancing as a teen. Angry that as I come back to my practice, my body is weaker, less flexible.
I remember when I was finally able to do a chaturanga with no knee support and without flopping down on the floor, belly first. It was such a victory! It was the result of going to yoga everyday for six months and trying, every day, to move from a plank, to a half push up, and into an upward facing dog. Today, after my back injury, I feel like I’m back to square one. I’m back to placing my knees on the ground, flopping down on the mat… after all that work, my body has betrayed me.
What I wasn't counting on though, was that recovering from an injury would actually prove to be an exercise in patience and humility. I’ve had to recognize my vanity and drop my desire to be regarded as “perfect.” I’ve had to stop myself from going to advanced yoga classes so that my ego won’t get the better part of me. I’ve learned to take child’s pose when my body is asking me to stop although my head is loudly exclaiming, “Pfft! Piece of cake!” I’ve learned to recognize and celebrate growth in others even as I have had to take a few steps back.
I’ve learned to cherish meditative, restorative yoga. A practice I once thought of as boring, has taught me slow, focused movement can be just as healing and energizing as a fast-paced flow. Lying on the mat in silence, without the distraction of continuous movement, has proved quite a challenge for me as a power yoga lover. Working through each muscle slowly and patiently, you are confronted with your pain. And without the quick release of a vinyasa, where you move swiftly from one pose to the next, barely getting a chance to sense your limits, you are also confronted with your thoughts. Thoughts that may be saying, this class is boring, I’m wasting my time, I should be doing “real” yoga… Or thoughts reprimanding myself for what I said this morning to that person at work, or the way I should have reacted in that awkward situation last month, or how afraid I am of my life going past me without accomplishing what I wanted. And so my physical pain opens the door to all my fears, and the mat becomes my battle ground: the place where I confront them, accept them, and (try to) let them go. And even though I still have a bit of a love-hate relationship with that class, I make sure not to miss it.
I'm not sure how long it'll take for my body to be where it was, maybe I have to adapt myself to this new body with its new limitations. I've been bitter and upset, but I am thankful for one thing: after my injury, in learning to be kinder to my body, I’m learning to be kinder to myself, and that’s something worth forgetting my anger for.
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