Practice Interrupted: Only at the end is where we begin

7 Aug

Sometimes we take a journey and only when we get to our destination do we realize we’ve traveled from one place to another.

This spring, I went to my edge — my yoga edge, that elusive place teachers encourage us to climb to, peer over it, then climb down before we plunge. I had been practicing faithfully the entire winter, almost without a break, on top of the rigorous teacher training course, which consumed all weekends. When not on my mat, I would lace up the old running shoes and hit the pavement for that runner’s fix that has sustained me for more than two decades.

Mid-winter, I realized something was off. My back hurt. Constantly. Even at night while I laid in bed trying to sleep, I could feel an uncomfortable pinch. But every  morning, I unrolled my mat and did my asanas. Frankly, the yoga made the back feel better. Holding poses in their full extension, I felt a wonderful expanse in my back and the fire in the legs and glutes as they fulfilled their supporting role.

But stubborn is as stubborn does and I just kept going. I had begun to walk a little bit like an octogenarian, taking my good old time to get up from a sitting position or grimacing whenever I had to bend over to pick up something.

Tired of hearing my husband scolding me to get to the doctor, I dragged myself to the orthopedic specialist, whom I had visited years ago for a stress fracture in my foot (running injury). An x-ray and MRI later, I learned I had a bulging disc that would require rest, painkillers and weeks of physical therapy.

What about yoga, I asked him? He smiled. Don’t do anything that hurts, he said.

Week 6 of therapy dawns tomorrow as I write this. My back is better. I feel almost like my old self again. Last week, I unrolled my mat. The smell of rubber took me back to some of my happiest moments. I honored the journey I had been through this past few weeks and did not push myself. It wasn’t easy. I wanted to do a Wheel and an Uttanasana. But held back, gently exploring Child’s Poses and Cobras, Warriors, and various other asanas that rekindled my strength without placing great demands on my back.

I’ve learned to walk again, and climb stairs and bend over — after a lifetime of doing it incorrectly. My therapist said that 99 percent of all people she sees walking and moving do so incorrectly. Body mechanics — how we move our skeletal and muscular bodies — is such a critical part of our health and wellness, and for me, my yoga.

As  I near the end of my therapy, I feel as if I’m starting a new journey. The chorus of one of my favorite  yoga songs goes, “Only at the end is where we begin….”

Off I go.

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One Response to “Practice Interrupted: Only at the end is where we begin”

  1. Percy Pyeatt February 6, 2013 at 7:57 am #

    Running is a fun sport – seriously. Each day, people all over the world partake in the sport. Some run on the track. Others run in their neighborhood. People run in trails and even on the treadmill. No matter where you run or how often you do it, chances are you are either at risk for injury or you have at some point dealt with an injury.Injuries can be frustrating. For most people, this means that some time needs to be spent away from the sport. For someone who loves it, this is not an easy task. But it is important to note that the easiest and quickest way to heal a running injury is to stop running..

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