Crying in the Steamroom

Today didn’t feel like hump-day: making it to Wednesday is supposed to be a triumph. I finally made it to my first yoga class since my injury. The doctor told me i could go back to the gym on Monday, but there was a laundry emergency, and last night I had a doctors appointment. If it were up to me I would have been back on the mat last week. I was honestly proud of myself for resisting the urge just to stretch! But I wanted to heal, and I knew I needed to be patient for that to happen. So I was patient. I even tacked on a couple additional days, and I set my alarm last night for 5:15am: excited, and relieved as if I knew moving again would make me feel so much better!

I woke before my alarm went off, and at first I couldn’t figure out why. I laid in bed for a few minutes but then sprang up to get ready for class, and it was as if all at once I got hit with a ton of bricks – directly over my left shoulder. I felt pressure and pain, searing and stabbing in places I’d never felt pain before. I knew it was this injury though; it was letting me know it was still there. I got dressed anyway, powered through my morning routine, and even had time to whip up a piece of peanut butter toast on my way out the door. Nothing was keeping me home from he gym another day. By the time I made it to class, I had considered at least a dozen times already to just go back home. I didn’t get a seat on the train and was knocked the whole ten minute commute. I must’ve been nervous because I somehow worked up a sweat as I was preparing to settle into a comfortable seat. Long story short, I realized only after a loose few downward facing dogs that I needed to stop. The first one hurt like hell, but I held it with strength. The second one hurt worse than the first and I had to bend to readjust my arms after only one breath. Finally, on my third attempt to meet in an otherwise familiar position, my body said no mas. I collapsed to my knees and fought back tears.

“I’ve never been here,” I thought to myself, “I’ve never struggled like this with yoga.” Of course, I’ve struggled with learning a new posture, or meditating after a long day, or being able to remove my long day from my practice. But to me, all of those struggles are learning struggles. I love learning more and more ways in which I can optimize my practice. I’m so obsessed with it all, that those struggles aren’t struggles to me. They’re me developing my passion. Of course it’s no easy feat, and so I don’t expect it to be. In fact, I prefer when it isn’t. But this struggle is different. I’m not in control of it and I finally realized it. When I hit the mat today, it hit me. And I felt hopeless, and lost.

I spent the rest of the class landing in child’s pose anytime a posture required the support of my arms or hands, and I directed my body very slowly and very mindfully between any postures that’s didn’t. As I moved, I breathed. I was so angry. I moved a little more, and I breathed a little more. I was so frustrated. More moving and more breathing, but when it was time to transition to savasana, it was certainly time to lie down. I knew lying down would be risky, as this injury affects the muscle used to sit up, but I didn’t care at the moment. It was exactly what I needed, and it felt amazing.

I realized after class (crying in the steam room), that I was being selfish. I wanted to go back to work so badly, and I wanted to push through the class, despite the pain. My body didn’t want those things. My body was enjoying the rest and needed more of it. That’s why laying down was the best part of the class this morning. It was when my body finally chilled out for a second, and in turn, I felt super relaxed. My body was even yelling at me for waking up earlier than I have been. I didn’t hear a thing because I was listening to whatever was going on in my head, which was “I’ll be fine,” and “I can’t wait!”

It can be extremely frustrating not being in control, especially when it’s something like your body. I don’t want to stay away from the gym, but I do want to be able to work out again and feel healthy. So I have to take the backseat. It’s been less than a day, and I’m already stressed about it, but I know it’s for the best. My first-favorite yoga instructor was from Australia and had the best non-Australian accent and the best mantra: “listen to your body.” He used to say it between every posture. Literally, every other breath. I always felt as if I was listening, but maybe she’s never been as loud as she was today.

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