As I lay there on my back, sweat drying on the back of my neck, gently cradled by the give of my mat, five simple words washed over me, triggering a moment of ineffable release…
“Awaken yourself from within first.”
I’m no stranger to a few tears in savasana. Moving muscles, honing mental focus, and getting lost in the rise and fall of breath have an uncanny ability to remove blockages, both physical and emotional. From time to time this release opens the flood gates, others it simply lets drips seep out one by one. Today was more of the latter for me, but my goodness did it feel good to crack.
No one ever told me I had to be strong while healing from my accident, but I resolved to stay positive, look at the glass half full, and find the proverbial silver lining. I’m not saying it was wrong to push myself in this way, but it was at times exhausting. I knew at some visceral level that if I let myself crumble emotionally while my body was broken against its will, I might slip down a darker path than if I steeled myself in certain ways. Fear of falling kept me from facing the true trauma of my experience. Part of me knew I would have to face the more emotional impact of the accident once my body started to mend, but it still surprised me when it began to surface.
For the past few weeks I’ve been tiptoeing back into my yoga practice: I’ve used more props than ever before (see below); I’ve gotten creative with hand placement and foot positions to allow for better balance; I’ve come to child’s pose when others have come into handstand; and I’ve even worked up the courage to leave my splint at home despite the fear that others won’t know I’m still healing and think I’m just being lazy (hello, ego!).
Every week that goes by I am physically stronger, but at times more mentally and emotionally frustrated. An agitation shakes and stirs inside me fueled by impatience and expectation. Why am I not yet back to where I was before? When will this pose or that pose be within reach? Where did my stamina go? While all the answers to these questions are clear to my most rational self, in the moment these questions gnaw and nag at my inner fabric.
Here’s the thing—that inner struggle is the exact reason why I love yoga so much, so much that I became a teacher. Yoga illuminates the limits, boundaries, and blockages we all wrestle with. It sheds light on them and allows you the time and space to truly see, acknowledge, and slowly and steadily ease through them. It’s not an fast process, and you cannot rush it. The more you force yourself towards resolution or change, the harder it becomes to achieve.
When that single tear found its way through the crack in the walls I’d thrown up, rolled its way down into the well of my ear, and drew a smile across my face I knew my struggle with this trauma had begun in earnest. My gratitude for this beginning is unbounded. I know that as I start to reconnect with my inner self, awakening from within first, I will have the unique and rare opportunity to reignite my spark with yoga. I get to rediscover the magic of connecting breath to movement. I get to realize anew that stillness creates inner and outer strength. And I get to watch as my body invites me back in, little by little as it becomes ready.
As I lay there on my back, in tranquility and stillness, only then could I notice that when you are still there are no boundaries and no limits to what is possible, only potential.