The Day I Was Told to Stop Practising Yoga
It was Wednesday 4 September. My world had crashed in.
‘You need to stop doing yoga.’
Those were the words I heard from a chiropractor I’d gone to see with some ongoing niggles.
It’s all I’ve known for the past 9 years both as a practitioner and teacher. It pays my mortgage and bills, it’s how I keep my body strong and supple and my mind at ease and balanced. Well, up until now at least. I managed to hold it together, mostly because my 8 year old daughter was there rubbing my back and telling me it was going to be ok as she saw my tears well up and struggled to hold hers back.
I felt stranded, lost at sea without a paddle.
My L5 and S1 (lower lumbar and upper sacrum) has a degenerative disc and bony spur. ‘Can it get better?’, I hear myself ask as I gaze confused at the X-ray which is also showing an imperfectly straight thoracic (mid back) and cervical (neck) curving the wrong way. Where have my natural curves gone?
It’s not the worse yoga body I’ve seen. He tells me.
Hmmm. Should I feel relieved at this point? It’s not the worse but quite frankly it’s pretty shit.
I left there telling myself all the things you do when you practice mindfulness and meditation. Change is good, don’t resist it. Sit with the difficult emotions, don’t fight them, notice when they pass. Every cloud…..
I knew all this to be true; it simply felt there was a bit of a shit storm to go through first. I believed I needed to change, oh you know, just everything I’d ever known.
Desperately seeking answers, a friend offered me some advice; if anyone ever tells you to stop doing something you love, get a 2nd opinion because how can you have a relationship with that person when they’re so misaligned with your beliefs and needs. True. I was offered no alternatives, no solutions. How could I work with someone so black and white whose experience of yoga was 5 or 6 sessions? Surely a preferred response would be, ‘Let’s find a way to make this work so you can continue doing what you love, we simply need to make some changes, so have a break, slow down and lets work on you and reassess in 3 months.’
I decided to get a 2nd, 3rd and 4th opinion and no, I don’t need to stop, simply adapt. Years of strong power/vinyasa yoga has had an impact as anything of a repetitive nature would. But, can yoga itself be blamed? No, I don’t believe it can; our bodies all suffer trauma from childbirth to now and my issues could have been building up for years prior to even practising. Naturally our spines degenerate as we age, the L5 S1 section of mine is simply more worn than expected and there are now poses I need to avoid to ensure it doesn’t worsen. I can live with that.
I made a decision that day to not be broken by this. I’m meditating and working on my mindset daily. I know to change and move forwards as a practitioner and teacher, I can’t be the same person I’ve been in the last few years.
Therefore, I consider myself a caterpillar. Right now I’m feeding my mind and body with love and positivity as I go through this period of transformation. I’m wrapping myself tightly in self-care which involves meditation, mindfulness, gentle yoga and pranayama.
As I head into this protective chrysalis stage, this is where I learn, develop, evolve and in time emerge the other side prepared to meet the ‘me’ of this next chapter. Right now I’m learning from the old me which has a wealth of information and insight along with self limiting beliefs, and I need to be brave as I dig deep; we don’t always like what we find.
It can be really easy to resist change but where does that leave us? Stuck in the quagmire of ‘what ifs’ and self doubt about what the future holds. Stepping forward into the unknown can be unnerving but how do we learn and grow being stuck in the past? If it’s not working or it no longer fits, change it.
At times we all hit a hurdle, or several, and we are required to reassess, to be fearless and to not give up. We are born with everything we need, we simply need to know how to unlock it. Recognising patterns of behaviour that hold us back is a great place to start but it requires courage to be honest with ourselves and allow ourselves the time to break down these patterns, many of which begin in our formative years. How do we do this? Personally, I find keeping a journal and meditating are useful tools which can offer insight into the workings of the mind as long as we’re open to listening.
‘Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.’
Such an insightful quote. We can’t change or move forwards if we’re not prepared to feel fear and discomfort. As we go through periods of transformation there is often no quick fix but I know one day I will be ready, ready to unfurl my wings and go out into the world, a little older, a little wiser and continually learning. And for this, I can’t wait.
I’d love to hear your ideas of how you manage your hurdles. Please comment below or connect with me: www.liveyoga.co.uk/connect and receive a 7 Day Meditation Immersion into your inbox.