It has been three months since I had back surgery, a microdiscectomy on my L5 - S1. Last April I felt a pain in my back out of nowhere, I can still remember the exact moment, I was walking into my kitchen and I felt a twinge in my lower back. I thought to myself "odd, wonder what that was" and by the next morning I could barely walk out of work. For the next seven months I experienced back pain, numbness in my foot and my sciatica was screaming at me most days. There were days where my leg would give out and I would be in so much pain. I thought I was pretty healthy, I had started working out several months prior, but wasn't so consistent and I jumped into a group workout program and less yoga.
The seven months of my injury taught me so much about myself and my body, and especially about my mind. I gained a little over ten pounds over the course of seven months and I struggled with staying mentally healthy. Working out for me, specifically running and yoga keep my mind happy and settled. I don't know that I will be able to run again, the impact of running on my back scares the crap out of me to be honest. I was cleared to work out again in late January, then I got sick. Bronchitis and a couple rounds of antibiotics and a cough that has lingered for the better part of a month. This week I started back in yoga, and if I am being honest with you I was terrified to go back. I felt like a kid starting a new school. I was anxious and really didn't want to go. I did it though, I got myself back into the studio, where it is overwhelmingly hot when you first go. I go to a Bikram studio, it is the yoga practice I love the most. The warmth of the room helps me focus and allows me to be more flexible than normal. I still can't get into all the poses, and after being away for more than 6 months, I was brand new again. I talked to the teacher and let her know that I was back and that my goal was to stay in the room and listen to my body, she agreed that was a perfect focus. I allowed myself to listen to my body and to gently get through the class. My fears immediately went away and for the next hour I focused solely on my body, feeling the poses, paying attention to the messages it was giving me and being in the moment. I felt back at home, and for that hour nothing else crossed my mind, which is why I love yoga so much. At the end of class I was drenched in sweat and I was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. I slept better than I had in months that night, and I thanked my body for the strength to get through my first class back. Each class will get better and easier while being more challenging as I allow my body to get deeper into each pose, and my mind will once again have a reprieve each day.
I told myself that this year I would be kinder to myself and all others. Taking care of my physical health is one of the steps to take care of the whole me. I haven't always taken care of myself, and this year I am making it a priority. It feels good. As I meditate a little each day, get myself to yoga and eat a plant based diet I am seeing that my mind, body and spirit are all connected and I am honoring myself each day. It is a remarkable thing to feel and watch in yourself when you make the decision to be kinder to yourself, and when you take care of the body that does so much for you, the mind that is so beautiful when in balance and the spirit that helps guide you to a truly authentic life. Namaste.