For years people have told me that I should do yoga. I just wasn’t ready for it. My body is more impaired than people think it is. I make able bodied people a little nervous when I’m just walking around. I can only imagine how uncomfortable the class would be when I fall over and then have to wriggle around for a while to get back up. Everything takes me longer to do than people think it will, especially getting up off the ground.
I had been going to the gym 2x a week regularly for about 5 months. I was looking for something else to add. Last October I was invited to an adapted yoga class offered through Barrow Neurological’s outpatient rehab center. The yoga class fit easily into my schedule. I was finally ready.
I was the only disabled yogi who turned up on that Wednesday morning. My first class was a private session from a very skilled instructor. She started the class by teaching me how to breathe. That alone made the experience worthwhile. She explained how yoga is about focusing on your breathing, like meditation.
I’d been using the Headspace meditation app for 15 minutes nearly every day since Summer. I was feeling confident heading into the poses. All of which were way more challenging than I thought they should be. I had the same experience in each new pose. I would focus on pose or rather my inability to do it. I would get angry, “How can this be so hard!” The feeling would build and build until I would finally surrender to the moment and focus on my breathing. It was much more than a workout or meditation.
Each yoga pose was like a metaphor for my daily life. I’m consistently running up against simple tasks that are far more challenging than I think they ought to be. Buttoning up a shirt for example or cleaning my pool or just standing up can be challenging. I’m consistently pushed to my physical limits. I can either get mad because of the challenge or embrace living in the challenge.
Last night I was talking to Aimee about what it meant to “love my body.” I still don’t have an answer for that. What does it mean to love your body? Especially when my body feels more like a prison I’m stuck in, rather than a vehicle for expression and love. Being ok with not being ok, is a special kind of balancing act. My physical inability forces me to see a world in which pretty much anything is possible if you’re able to get past the idea of doing it the “right way.”
We all want an instructional manual on how to go through life. I feel like I found something close to it in yoga. Challenge yourself then live in it. Embrace the difficulty instead of resisting it. Be grateful for the opportunity to be challenged. The weakness in my body gives me an opportunity to see life in a whole new way. I guess that’s a pretty good reason to love my body.
Life is a gift. Gifts should be enjoyed.