For me, yoga, much like my religion, has been more of a private practice. I used to go to classes quite often, liking the feeling of being surrounded by comrades and others who appreciated the exercises and stretches. But much like many of us do, I allowed life to get in the way, and soon, most of my practice happened at home to the tune of books, DVDs, and other instructional techniques, all of which, can be valid if done properly. But there is something to be said for instruction from a trained professional that I have always missed.
To make matters worse, seven years ago, I broke my right leg at my knee joint, and after two surgeries, five pain ablation procedures, and endless hours of physio, I am no further along in my healing process than I was the day I was injured. For those of you who don’t know, I was in the military for eight years, and recently, was released from the military due to this injury, which was caused by a week in the field doing all the fun army stuff! Sadly, my pain persists to this day.
For this reason, I allowed myself to be even more of a yoga recluse. I was embarrassed of my cumbersome leg brace or my inability to put pressure and weight on my right leg. I felt shame for not being able to move into downward dog with the same ease that I once did. Each pose is now accompanied by my grunts, groans and adjustments until the position can work for me.
I was struck in a proverbial yoga rut until recently, after talking with my friend, Jacquie, who is also a fantastic and compassionate yoga instructor at The Asana Room in Courtenay, BC. After explaining my plight, she told me that we can never learn unless we push ourselves beyond our comfort zone. She then promptly invited me to the class she teaches. Touché, Jacquie. After allaying my concerns that there would be professional yogis in the room, fully into Salamba Sirsasana, I agreed to make an appearance, full of advance apologies for not being able to do anything right.
I walked into the wood-laden room and instantly was filled with nerves, once again, forgetting what yoga is all about. It’s more about the journey, isn’t it? Not how I get there? Of course! I get it now! And so, filled with some semblance of confidence, the class began and I allowed myself to stretch into each Sun Salutation, reaching my arms toward the sky, and really appreciating what the move was doing for my body. When our pelvises settled into Warrior Pose, I remembered that in my previous military life, I was a warrior! And here I am, being one right now, in the moment. I am capable and strong, occasionally in ways that aren’t always physical. And it felt good to recognize that.
I went through the rest of the class somewhere on the brink between emotional and elated. I smiled when I realized I wasn’t the only one who grunted or groaned when moving into tricky poses. It’s all part of getting there and giving your body permission to make that noise. And when a certain position was too hard on my knee, I just stopped. I focused on my breath. I realized that I was taking a big step today, by putting myself, and my yoga practice, out there in the real world. I did something worthwhile today. When another pose pinched my knee, I adjusted until it worked for me. And in the room of The Asana Room, with other eager students, there was no judgement or gawking at my changes. There was acceptance.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is part of what yoga is all about. Accepting yourself, your body, and your fellow students for all that they are.
So, my thanks go out to Jacquie, for creating such a positive environment for me to practice and providing a skillfully delivered class full of diversity and relaxation. I’d be lying if I said the class didn’t challenge me, but someone wise told me that if I don’t get out of my comfort zone, I’ll never learn.