Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Human Pretzel Experiment

My mother taught yoga when I was growing up, so I've been doing it for a lot of my life. The way she tells it, yoga is the reason she can even walk today. She is quite accident prone, which, when mixed with some bad luck, means she's had a lot of injuries over the course of her life. Including going through the windshield of a car (she says she was brushing glass out of her hair for weeks) and falling down a flight of cement stairs, nearly breaking her back. Ouch.

She discovered yoga after the stairs incident, and began to slowly rehabilitate herself with it. Though at first she had trouble even standing, over time she was able to regain full use of her body - though she's had back problems ever since.

I started going to yoga class with her when I was about 11. At first I resented it (though let's face it, at that age I would have resented going on a five star cruise with her, that's pretty much just how pre-teens and teens feel about hanging out with their parents. They'd rather die.) but eventually I came to enjoy it.

I've done it periodically ever since, but when I managed to injure my own back, it was one of the first things to go. It's taken two years post-surgery for me to get to a point where I feel confident enough about my body's abilities to so much as set foot in a yoga class. It wasn't easy to face up to that challenge - mostly because I was scared to discover just how much flexibility and muscle tone I have lost in the last five years.

Thanks to a work colleague and a discounted yoga pass, I'm back in class. And I was pleasantly surprised that my body managed to do more than I expected. I can do most of the poses - thought I need to modify a few - and, most importantly, I'm not in pain if I don't push too hard.

I think the most valuable lesson I've learned through all the pain and frustration is to listen to my body. It doesn't matter what the teacher is telling us to do. It doesn't matter that the yoga girl in front of me is doing the splits against the wall. I'm going to sit there sweating it out to get my head halfway to my knees, and I'm going to feel damn proud of myself for it, too.

The most important thing was to learn where my own boundaries are, and to respect them. I now feel better than I have in years and actually look forward to yoga class twice a week. For anyone in the Vancouver area who is looking for a good studio for people recovering from injuries, I'd recommend checking out Treloar. Maybe I'll see you there!


  1. So glad you're enjoying your yoga class ems :) I should definitely consider starting up again.

  2. Thanks! You should. If you lived here we could go together. Yet another reason for relocation.(Also, don't you love how I know who this is just because you called me "ems"?)


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