Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Greatest Teacher

Sometimes an injury is your soul speaking through your body.  This has been the case for me.  Over the last 9 months, I have been experiencing swelling in my right knee.  There was no big pop, no accident, no obvious moment of injury.  This is common for inflammation problems.  They creep up on you quietly and kick you in the ass.  Or the knee.

I am dedicated to natural health and nurturing self-care.  This knee has sent me to the orthopedic surgeon, rheumatoid arthritis doctor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, naturopath, counselor, physical therapist, yoga teacher and back again.  Now I see that my true healing began in India when I finally learned what it means to rest.

Who doesn't want to rest?  Well, me apparently.  It wasn't that I didn't want to rest my knee.  It was more like I didn't know how to give myself permission to rest.  An active mind and an active body always keep me moving, working, doing chores, errands and exercising.  Like many American woman, I had been brainwashed into thinking that if I wasn't running or doing the elliptical or squatting or box jumping or sweating then I would get fat.  No matter how balanced or centered I think I am, the desire to maintain a slim figure outweighed what my body was really craving.  I'm so grateful that I am finally heeding the call.

When I was at Ayurvedagram in India, my doctors told me not to walk too much.  This meant that I only walked to meals, treatments and to the yoga room.  Yoga class was not cracked-out, hot ashtanga flow.  This was therapeutic yoga.  Sometimes we didn't even stand up during the entire class.  My ego got out of my way by day 2 or 3, and I just embraced the slow pace, movement repetitions and focused on my breath.  Mohanty, our wonderful teacher, would sing, "Inhaaaaaaaaaale. Exhaaaaaaaaaale."  His style was calm, focused and careful.  At one point he said, "If you can't do the pose, that's fine.  But if you can't relax during the pose, that's a big problem."  We weren't in class to sweat and get a hard workout.  We were there to loosen up, stretch our muscles and ultimately, relax.

These days instead of trying to squeeze in a workout after work, I put my legs up the wall and breathe.  This gentle inversion has great effects on my body and mind.  My job is very active, and I let that "count" as exercise sometimes.  My yoga practice has never been more rewarding now that I'm letting me body tell me what it needs each day.  The concept of rest is finally sinking in.  It's not only good sleep, but choosing conscious rest while awake.  I'm grateful for my knee and the way it's teaching me how to truly rest.

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