Last week was my first time back on the mat in a month.
My wrist had been healing, and I did my best to stay motivated, trying to walk and run and stretch. But by the end, I really was just spending my time waiting to come back.
On the day I was cleared to practice, I thought I’d be so excited, but as the day wore on, I got more and more out of sorts. By the time I got home from work, I was not sure I’d even go.
I knew at the end of my month’s rest, I would lose a little strength and flexibility; however, I did not think I would also lose a little confidence.
I couldn’t believe I was considering giving myself another week at home.
I had to start again, literally. So, I jumped in the shower as if the day was just beginning, and did all the things I do to get ready in the morning, even though it was night.
Feeling better, I packed up my mat and hopped in the car, driving to my favorite spot, a beautiful yoga studio downtown with a big, open practice room.
I parked the car, walked ‘round the corner and there on the city sidewalk stood my yoga buddies!
I was so thrilled to see them, these people who have come to mean so much to me. Their hoots, hollers and hugs welcomed me warmly and boosted my confidence enough to make my way with them to the studio.
As we sat in the lounge, the others asked if I knew that I would have to hold back. No arm balances. No crow. No jump backs.
What’s left for me to do? I asked, knowing I had to start slowly but only now realizing how much. They had a quick answer for me:
The rest of your practice!
I come to this class for the bhandas and balances, so this advice gave me pause.
But, they quickly told me how injuries can force a focus on other parts of the practice and even demonstrated some modifications. One of the girls told me an injury helped her learn to go from seated position to handstand. Another told me how an injury improved her forearm stands.
Their collective support and encouragement gave my confidence another needed boost, and we walked inside and placed our mats in this most special and spacious room. The high ceiling fans circulated a warm breeze that had made its way in through the open French doors.
The practice began, and we moved with the breeze. We moved and we moved and we moved.
It was as if I was dining on a long overdue meal. I wanted to gobble up whatever was next. I wanted to clean my plate, and I realized how mistaken I was to think that I’d be left hungry without the arm balances.
Each and every pose was work, and when it came time for Crane, I instead sat in a squat with my knees together in front of me. Turns out, my heels can’t even touch the ground! Maybe they never could? A new challenge served up.
When it was time to jump back, I simply stepped back, happy to be able to have any weight on my wrists in the first place. A big helping of gratitude.
And I waited out the Side Crows in a forward fold, my head no longer as close to my knees as before. A bite of humble pie.
We flowed through Warrior I.’s and II.’s, Side Angles, Half Moons and Triangles, and we reversed them, too. The sweat started early, and I savored each movement, my muscles getting a taste of what they had missed.
Then the instructor brought us to Humble Warrior. With Warrior I. feet, I bound my hands behind me and leaned forward, lifting them up and over my back.
And with my head bowed to the mat, I felt such a rush of emotion that I had to catch my breath, as if I had eaten too fast. I was overcome with everything the evening had brought me.
I was back in my seat at this abundant banquet where everything is in reach: My practice and my mat. The instructor and the room. My friends and their energy, support and camaraderie.
As usual, the practice was over in the blink of an eye. But, I was sated.
On the way out, a fellow yogi asked how I felt, and I told her I felt everything! My muscles ached as if the practice was brand new.
But she explained it so much better and knew just what I meant.
You mean it hurt so good!
Exactly! I said, knowing I had only whet my appetite and would be hungry again soon.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel
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