I started my yoga journey about 5 years ago. I had been struggling with some different health issues and decided I was tired of feeling crappy! My younger sister is a yoga instructor so I had some experience with yoga, but she lives 4 hours away from me so I couldn’t use her as an instructor. I knew from her that yoga was a good form of exercise, but little did I know then how much yoga would change my life!
I started out doing yoga in my bedroom with a video from youtube. I really had no idea what I was doing and I remember feeling very frustrated that I couldn’t do most of the poses in the video. But slowly, I started to let go of those frustrations and I started to really listen to my body and become one with my body. (I know it sounds weird to my runner/cross fit friends, but that is what yoga is all about for me!) I started to realize that I was making baby steps and that it really didn’t matter if I could do the pose or not. I was showing up on my mat every day and that was the important part. I did things wrong many times and even injured myself from doing it the “wrong” way. But from that, I learned how to really listen to my body, so was it really wrong? I don’t think so.
One of the hardest times of my yoga journey was last summer. I woke up one morning and was in so much pain. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I thought maybe I had a kidney stone. It was a holiday weekend so everything was closed on Monday. If you know me or know anything about me, you know that I don’t usually turn to medicine or doctors when I have an issue. But this time I was in so much pain that I almost went to the emergency room. Instead, I turned my focus on breathing through the pain and really listening to my intuition. I asked God what I should do. I felt very strongly that I should go to a Chiropractor. At this point, I still had no idea what was wrong. But I kept feeling a push to see a Chiropractor. So as soon as I was able to get an appointment I did. The Chiropractor was able to determine that I had a herniated disc in my lower back. I have a full family history of back problems in my family. Both parents have had back surgery and I have two sisters that have both had back surgery. The Chiropractor said that even though I was doing everything right, my family history had clearly caught up with me. He told me what my options were. Basically, it came down to surgery or working through it and letting it heal naturally. He assured me that he could help me avoid surgery, but he was concerned if I could deal with the pain and not get discouraged through the process of healing. I chose to go the route of healing naturally and was told it would take about 6 months before it would be completely healed. Over the next 6 months, I focused on carefully doing yoga every day and started working on core strengthening exercises. Slowly, but surely my back started to feel better. However, I was never completely out of pain. When the pain started to last longer than the 6-month timeframe I really started to get discouraged and wondered if I had made the right decision. I was going to the chiropractor about every 4-5 weeks and things would feel good for several weeks and then eventually go right back to hurting. To say that I was discouraged is putting it mildly. I felt like I was going to be in pain for the rest of my life.
Then I found a doctor who was doing decompression table work. This stretches your spine so that the disc can move back into place. Along with laser therapy, electrode therapy, and specific core strengthening exercises, I finally started to feel a difference. I finally started regaining strength and my back was not constantly in pain.
You don’t even realize how hard chronic pain is on your mental state until you are experiencing it every day!
Through this entire journey (which I am sure is not fully complete) I am grateful for the opportunity to turn to God and really look deep within myself for strength.
I have always wanted to get a tattoo, but was always afraid of pain and would chicken out every time I went to meet with a tattoo artist. After going through this experience, I realized that I am a lot stronger than I think. I decided at the ripe old age of 47 that I was finally going to get the tattoo that I always wanted! I chose a lotus flower and a hummingbird. The lotus flower represents strength to me because it’s roots are deep and it has to grow through the mud in order to bloom. The hummingbird represents letting go of the past, not worrying about the future and living in the now, enjoying the nectar of each day. I felt both were very symbolic of my journey thus far.
I look forward to a lifetime of experiencing my yoga journey and I truly believe that the learning is never done!
Disclaimer: I feel very vulnerable posting pictures of myself in yoga poses! I tend to compare myself to other yogis who are much more flexible and much stronger! But I have come to realize that this is MY yoga journey and I am proud of where I am today!