Friday, June 8, 2012

The Journey Back


Life is supposed to about moving forward but sometimes a journey back can be just as significant.

Do you have anything in your life that once meant a great deal and yet it slipped away? I don’t mean a first love kind of thing but something for you that for whatever reason you quit/stopped/left. Yoga was that thing for me. After my MS diagnosis it was one of the keys to my not losing it completely and for 4 years I practiced 4 to 5 times a week. I progressed from not even being able to touch my toes to being able to lay my palms flat on the floor in front of me. I went to yoga classes and made friends who went beyond yoga. I practiced at home with CDs. Yoga was a part of my everyday life.

For whatever reason, I stopped doing yoga when we left Utah. Why, I’m not sure, but it might be that the same reasons I began yoga now propelled me away. In the beginning growth and progress came quickly. Kind of like dieting where you make the initial effort and the pounds slip off. My flexibility and balance were a marvel to me. Each time I let myself slip into the space on my mat I not only quieted but my body softened and relaxed allowing me to achieve positions I never thought I could. I left each practice renewed with my mind and body calmly energized.

Unfortunately, control over my body is an illusion. Even though I look ‘normal’ multiple sclerosis is acting on my physical being and it started to show. Most specifically, balance is a delicate concept for me. I found I could no longer stand on one leg for long minutes but needed to be next to a wall so I could place one hand there for support. Triangle pose caused a vertigo-like effect and other favorite poses began to challenge me as well. I was no longer progressing but regressing and rather than peace I felt only frustration. Leaving my favorite yoga teacher made the decision easy- I simply stopped practicing. Rather than freeing me, yoga had come to remind me of what was happening to my body and so I wanted no part of it.

And yet I missed it. Sometimes, very much. A few days before our trip it occurred to me that I could go and do yoga. My teacher, Scott, had opened his own studio and when I went to the website I saw that he was teaching a restorative class the morning after we got into town. Fortuitous. 

I arrived early and was able to catch up with Scott. Seeing him felt so calming and his first words, “What a great gift for me!” confirmed my gut feeling that I needed to do this. The tenets of Eastern philosophy (and therefore a large part of yoga as well) are that attachment is not a good thing. Any feeling I had that only with Scott could I do yoga is limiting but there you have it. I’ve never come across another teacher who inspired me both physically and spiritually. Mind and body.

Class was exactly as I hoped. The number of poses was minimal and we spent much of it lying on our backs gently supported by bolsters and blankets listening to Scott talk about his theme for the week- crossroads. Need I point out that another reason I grew attached to this guy is because his talks always seem to coincide with whatever I’m dealing with? Once again, he hit a nerve but calmed it with his point of view and musings. It was a blissed out hour and I was filled with peace and gratitude when I left.

Now what? I had hoped that Scott could put some kind of uber-yogi spell on me that would woo my mind and body back to that point of needing yoga rather than the hesitant, reluctant state I’ve been in but that is wishful thinking. Instead, I need to be more accepting of myself and in the silent moments of meditation each morning, look to why I push away something I loved. The answer is back there and in finding it maybe I can move forward again.


The Hindu altar at the front of the room. The chime on the floor is used to softly bring you out of shavasana.


Me with Scott after class. Probably as relaxed as you'll ever see me.

1 comment:

Abby said...

This is such a beautiful and insightful post, Catherine. Seriously. My cousin with MS never got into yoga, but she was into equine therapy for awhile to help with her balance and give her an outlet to try connect her body and mind. Of course nothing "cures" it, but it's finding those little outlets that can help or provide a moment of respite.

As for me, I've also gotten away from yoga as of late. I always found it was something that I couldn't force myself to do, as that would defeat the concept, but lately I think it's more of an avoidance tactic. I'm (unhealthily) pushing my body in other ways instead and neglecting the mind/body connection. Thanks for the reminder and I'm glad you had such a great trip ;)

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