Yoga and Pain Relief
Today, I am a guest blogger on the MN Physical Medicine Blog. I'm very excited to know what you think, but you will have to go here to read it.
September. I love this time of year. It always feels like an opportunity to renew and reinvent myself. School starts and with it comes all the new notebooks and pens that still excite me with their promise of a fresh start.
These are quickly followed by Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur. The Jewish High Holidays include a period of 10 days of reflection on the past year. During this time, you are supposed to seek forgiveness from those you have wronged. By becoming aware of how you may have hurt another, acknowledging your part in the difficulties you may have experienced with someone, and asking their pardon, you are repenting in order that your name be inscribed in the Book of Life. And you begin a new year, intent to do better.
My yoga practice is similar, although I do not grant myself one specific period in which to look back at my previous actions. Rather, every time I am on the mat, I am met with the results of my years of dancing in a body that wasn't built to do what I asked of it. I am aware of the multitude of injuries I sustained that have limited my movement or changed it entirely. I cannot remain blind to the truth of my constitution (tight joints, short tendons, poor endurance, poor circulation, short fuse). All of my history is present in every forward fold, every Virabhadrasana, every Savasana.
I look to the repetition of practice and meditation to find peace and understanding and acceptance. You see, reinventing cannot happen without awareness of what you are carrying. Only when you see your habits, your patterns, can you begin to see which ones are still helping you and which ones no longer serve a purpose as you take your next steps. If all I do is mourn my loss of ability to move in a certain way, I am trapped in the past. And if my response is to blame all that dancing and wish I had never done it, well, that is a wish that cannot come true. And honestly, I don't wish I had never danced. Something in me needed that form of expression. Some part of me had to follow that passion and it led me to incredible adventures and an accumulation of friends and experiences that I am so lucky to call my life.
But I cannot move forward toward a more healthy, respectful treatment of my body if I hold on to memories and continue to dishonor my body. I ask its forgiveness as I learn how to move the body I have now. The missing cartilage and bone erosion in my right ankle. The inflexible spine, and tight hips. The sacrum injured during childbirth ... twice.
When driving on a road, if you come upon a lake, you do not drive into it. You leave the car, and find a boat. The car is not suddenly bad, nor is the boat a more superior mode of transportation. One is simply no longer appropriate. This is how I see my practice of learning about my body and figuring out what to use next on the path forward. I cannot blame or long for what got me to this place. I can see my past as something to set aside as I learn new ways of moving on.
The Jewish High Holidays begin this evening with Rosh Hoshanah, the Jewish New Year. In this year 5774, I will keep learning on the mat about my personal challenges. But I will take these next ten days to look just as closely at my life off the mat. My interactions with the people in my world. My past behaviors that are no longer necessary in my future. I hope you can find time in your life to just sit with who you are. Honor what has brought you to this place in your life. And be willing to let go to move forward.
Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on bodies, movement, yoga, art, shoes, parenting, dogs. You know, life.