Yoga = Therapy

Some days I know that I am getting as much out of my yoga practice as I am my twice monthly counseling/EMDR visits. Today solidified that in my mind forever. Yoga is therapy.

More rain is coming. I was stiff and sore this morning but pumped up about today being “Yoga Day.” I told myself repeatedly that it did not matter if the ache got worse, I was going to go to yoga. I was going to will myself to do it, like I know Joanie does. I know that my practice makes me feel better. It makes my pelvis feel more alive, healthy and part of a body that is worth something.

And I did. I walked slowly and carefully from my office to the gym. It seems on the days I ache the most I have had a tendency to stub my shoes on uneven spots in the sidewalk. I guess I just don’t feel like picking my feet up far enough sometimes. Anyway, when that happens, it jolts things and I am better off if I can avoid it. But I made it on time and was ready to go when class began.

My teacher is wonderful. She has a peaceful way, a calming voice and she loves to share what she knows about yoga or anything else. In the four months I have known her we have talked about my surgery, the diastasis symphysis pubis injury generally and she has been encouraging yet practical about my ability. She always has modifications if I need them.

But today when she started talking about “working up to side plank” I was anxious.

As soon as she said it I had a conversation in my head that went something like this:
Negative self: How can I possibly do side plank today? I’m already sore and gravity is not my friend on some of these poses.
Positive self: Shut up. You don’t know what you can do. Remember when you shouldn’t have even been out of bed and you were going to work every day? Yes. You can.

At the beginning of our practice she asked us all to think about what we wanted to achieve. She gave a few suggestions such as calm and relaxation. For me, every time, my goal is to make peace with my body. To feel like it once again belongs to me and my mind and spirit are in harmony with it.

I developed what felt like laser focus on that idea: Mind, heart and body are one. I heard my own breath and I saw the orange and red I typically see with my minds eye. I needed to take this one breath at a time, not psych myself out before I even tried it.

The time came. As I went from plank to side plank on the right side I thought: Here goes. Yes. I can. I will.

And I did.

Tears were streaming down my face and I’m pretty sure I said “ohmigod. ohmigod!” out loud. My mat neighbor, who knows my situation, asked softly if I was OK and gave me an enormous smile when I said I was.

Time to switch to the left side came and I was still crying. So much release. So much joy. And, FINALLY, some of that peace I have urned for.

Incredible.

I have struggled a lot with the concept that the one thing my body was made to do it couldn’t do without splitting itself in half. It cuts deep. It’s like a machete gash to my womanhood. (Add to that my Skipper-like chest and I might as well be a 6th grader with two silver hairs.) It has been hard for me not to think of myself as automatically, hopelessly less than I should be. At least when that Negative self voice is loudest.

But today, the positive voice drowned out the negative. Today I proved to myself that I can do great things now – a little less than eight months after surgery to repair my pelvis and nearly 15 months after the birth of our son.

Those beautiful, warming tears represented to me the beginning of a new phase in my journey. I am coming to terms with the new me – as a wife and mom, as a woman, daughter, sibling, friend, colleague, classmate, herbivore and yogi. And each time I practice yoga I am more committed to ensuring it remains part of my life for the rest of my life.

The experience was so powerful that maybe 20 minutes after that side plank, as I was walking out of the gym with my teacher who gave me a ride to my office, I swear I saw my dad sitting in the field and smiling his million dollar smile. He walked on what often feels like a really long time ago so I can’t call him up and tell him all about it. But I know he was as excited as I was today. He used to say the best things to make you feel better about shedding tears. He quoted Sitting Bull a lot. “The most important thing a warrior can give the people is tears.”

Today those joyful tears were for me and for my family. My husband and I are one day closer to this whole experience being a memory. And I am motivated daily by the goal of achieving such strength that my son never knows me to be sore or to struggle.

Our world is filled with reasons to be happy right now. The Little Guy is walking more and more every day and gets an incredible amount of joy from it each time. It reminds me of the emotions that ran through me the first time I walked without the walker. The first time I walked without pain. The first time I was able to carry my little boy up the stairs and put him into his crib. Each of those moments were my gold medals. My mountain summits.

And I’m starting to wonder what will top that.

I was so excited about that side plank pose that I showed my husband tonight. He took this picture.

Me doing side plank
Please note: I am in my fourth month of yoga practice. If you want to see how to do this pose with perfect posture, go to another website. This is my side plank today and I LOVE IT!

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