We all come to our mats for different reasons. Whether it is to calm the mind, open the shoulders or invoke transformation, every reason is just as valid as the next.
I came to my mat for the first time 12 years ago as a form of cross-training for my career as a professional dancer. What yoga helped me realize is that my body and mind were extremely out of balance. Over-stretched hamstrings with little upper body strength and a weak core was the perfect equation for a low-back injury.
For years I had pain in my low back but chose to ignore it. Our bodies have no voice. Its way of communicating with us is through sensation such as pain, numbness and tingling. The pain started slowly and eventually I was stopped in my tracks and hardly able to walk. I finally found myself in my doctor’s office listening to him tell me he was referring me to a back surgeon. What? Surgery?! What would this mean to my career, to my health? I was in tears.
My body was telling me was it was time to slow down. For real this time.
Which meant I had to stop dancing and take a huge step back from my yoga practice. As a self-proclaimed type-A vinyasa yogini, the last thing I wanted to do was to go to a slow hatha class, but now I was being forced to. So with a lot of resistance, I finally chose to surrender.
I am now thankful for my injury as it has taught me the art of really listening to my body. Not just saying the words, but actually doing it. True compassion. Complete surrender. I have a new-found appreciation for my body: it’s strength and ability to take me through my day. And I am proud to say, due to a steady yoga practice and a lot of love and patience, I am (for the most part) pain free and surgery free.
My story is not unique. There are many of us struggling with injuries, either yoga-related or not. Unfortunately, what we resist persists. In yoga we learn that teachers come in many different forms. For me, my injury has been my greatest teacher. It tells me when I have done too much. It tells me when I am stressed, when I am moving too fast or when it is my time to take child’s pose. My only job is to listen to my teacher.
- Jacci Collins is a yoga instructor, dancer and blogger living in Vancouver, BC. A lifelong student of yoga, she strives to find balance in the body and mind with humor and grace. Join her at www.jaccicollinsyoga.com.