For so long, I admired people who could “do” yoga. The twisty, pretzel-like poses that seemed to be fashioned out of rubber limbs, not real ones. That’s what I thought yoga was. And I wished I could do it; but, I knew I could not.
I am not flexible or bendy. I have spasticity in my legs, hips and feet. For a long time, I had to be content with admiring the yogi body and hoping that if I were to be born again, I would be able to have that.
Then, about 15 years ago or so, my whole thought process on the topic was shattered. I was reading the paper (the actual paper that bleeds ink onto your hands, that kind), and there was an article about this woman Sonia, from Brazil, who was teaching children with disabilities yoga and doing great things with it. She developed a program called Yoga for the Special Child, and she teaches people all over the world how to teach yoga to children with disabilities.
I tracked her down and called her. I introduced myself, and I said, “I know I’m not a kid, but do you think you could show me?” And she said, “Of course!”
So, I met her for the next several weeks and she worked with me. And things started to happen. My legs started to stretch out. My chest opened up. I could go in upside down poses when my whole life I could not be upside down because it did crazy things to my brain.
Finally, she said, “come to class on Tuesday night. I’ll tell you how to modify things.” So, I did. And for that hour and a half, I was doing yoga like everyone else in the room. And I came back again. And again. Over the course of a couple years, I gained 2 inches in height, and got more flexible, better posture, and even found myself in a better mood much of the time.
I wish I could tell you that I’ve practiced yoga daily or weekly for the last fifteen years; but if I did, I’d be lying. What has happened, though, is that I’ve come back to it again and again. And when I return to yoga and meditation, it feels warm and welcoming, like coming home.
Yesterday, I found my way back to the mat for the first time in a while. I took a Yin class at the studio where my chiropractor has office hours. It was the perfect reintroduction, slow, long held poses with props and support, leaving me feeling relaxed and ready for the rest of my day.
And today, as serendipity would have it, my beloved Sonia (who moved away to Florida several years ago) is back in town teaching a course. So, I got to complete my reintroduction to my yogi self by having dinner with the woman who is responsible for putting me on the path of this knowing. Today, I am reminded that I am truly blessed.