“Yoga has a sly, clever way of short circuiting the mental patterns that cause anxiety.” Baxter Bell
True statement. Almost two weeks ago on Halloween I had bilateral carpal tunnel surgery. Yes, I know that bilateral means both and yes, I knew the first couple of weeks would be difficult even with the amazing help I had in place. The most difficult part of the early stages of healing was not the soft casts I had to wear, the difficulty of basic hygiene tasks, or even the vulnerability of having people dress me, put me to bed, cook, and open/lift everything I needed. The most difficult part of healing is emotional, which I honestly, was not prepared to experience.
The past two weeks I have been a huge ball of anxiety, depression (thank you time change for helping with that), and fear. I created false narratives in my head about everything and everyone – all of which I knew were false, yet could not stop. Everything was out of my control. Everyday I was frustrated and felt stuck. Nothing felt ‘right.’ I didn’t feel normal. I took my “emergency” anxiety medication twice in four days after not taking ANY anxiety medication in almost 3 months. I diffused and topically applied essential oils almost 24 hours a day (Balance and Frankincense in case you’re curious. Ask me about EOs, they’ve drastically impacted my overall physical and emotional health!). Yet, I still went through each day with a tangled mess of anxiety in the pit of my stomach.
Part of the healing process that I knew from the beginning was no teaching yoga until the stitches were out – 2 weeks minimum post surgery – and that it could be 6-8 weeks before I would be back to practicing the way I was before surgery. It was something I could accept, but it was not something I liked in the slightest. Yoga, breath, meditation – these are the means of grounding my mind, body, and soul. Today I stepped back on my mat for the first time since surgery. It was a little messy. My balance was off and I had to modify almost anything that required my hands on the floor: want to master Baby Cobra where there is to be little, to no weight in the hands? Have wrist surgery. Want to get stronger in dolphin plank? Have wrist surgery. Want to know what it feels like to not be able to go into full expression? Have wrist surgery. Injuries teach us. My friend and yoga mentor, says harder is not always better. Modifying your practice does not mean that you are weak; it means that you are present and aware of what’s happening in your body.
Yoga guru T. K. V. Desikacher said, “The success of yoga does not live in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.” In a short year and a half of consistent practice, yoga changed and continues to change my life. I believe in myself and know I am capable of anything I put my mind to. I am strong, in ways I didn’t know before. Through yoga I discovered the slow and disciplined journey of becoming instead of jumping ahead before I am ready. I typically spend a lot of time in my head, through yoga I move from my head to my heart where the rhythm of my breath becomes an intrinsic part of who I am. With the breath, the residual anxiety left in my chest burns away. In my disjointed practice today, my focus was on warriors. They are some of my favorite postures as they require strength, flexibility, and work every single muscle in the body.
They are beautiful. As the heart and chest open, inner strength and courage develops allowing me to open up to others and myself. In Warrior II, I feel as if I’m taking up space and making myself known.
On my mat, I’m home. Home in my body. Home in my breath. Home in my heart.My stitches aren’t even out yet, and I know there will be more tears and frustrations to come in the weeks ahead as I regain strength and mobility. So I’ll move with the rhythm of my own breath; one breath, one movement; a low slow, flow.
“lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu”
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”