Last month, I joined PRS Team Fit. It is both a “real life” and virtual opportunity for runners and triathletes to have professional coaching and be part of a team that provides support for your goals and challenges. One part of the training caused me concern: yoga. At my best, I am as flexible as a two-by-four and as graceful as an intoxicated elephant on roller skates. I foresaw uncomfortable pretzel posing and many falls in my future.
I was shocked by my experience. Well, I was, and still am, not flexible And balance is still a challenge. However, I found myself thoroughly enjoying yoga. In the flow, breathing, and pauses, I discovered a place to connect to myself and the Universe in a new way and an activity of mindfulness. It is rather disconcerting when I fall out of Warrior pose because my balance is off. But it is imperfection that truly reflects life.
My past three years were spent in a constant state of struggle. How do I redefine myself after Traumatic Brain Injury when so much of what I did and who “I was” no longer fit? Or I could no longer be. In the past, before injury, I sought adventure and challenge. I hiked to the summit of Mt. Saint Helen. I went snorkeling in the Florida Keys. I experienced “flight” in the speed of zip lining. I ran marathons and trail races. My ability to participate in those kinds of challenges is seriously restricted. Fatigue, balance, vertigo, migraine, sensory overstimulation all placed chains on my active life. And changed my professional life. I engaged in the war of finding what I can still do and pushing my limits constantly. I failed- often. I suffered. Eventually, I accepted life with restrictions. Those days of challenge, freedom, and enjoyment are gone. Find the small crevices that are left. Yoga is a surprising crevice.
In yoga, I discovered the freedom to challenge myself without the fear of injury or failure. When I lose my balance, if I fall, it’s only a few inches. I just need to move my coffee table so I don’t hit it. I can try this new activity. I don’t need to be perfect. My downward dog involves bent knees- it doesn’t matter. It isn’t important that I move slowly to keep balance or my poses aren’t perfect. They’re getting better. And, yoga connects me again, releases stress, and I feel happier and more centered after. I may never fold myself into a pretzel but my flexibility is already improving. Being a pretzel isn’t the point. Experiencing life is.