July 22, 2015

This is Why I Practice: Everything I Do on the Mat is Valuable.


Here is a list of things I struggle with immensely in my yoga practice:

Overhead grips of any kind
Keeping my shoulders aligned in jump-backs
Belly-down poses (Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana etc)
Navasana (hip flexors can’t deal)
Warrior III
Hollowback anything
Headstand (don’t practice them anymore for many reasons)
Shoulder stand (won’t come near it without a pile of props)
Drop-backs (are you kidding me??)
…and the list goes on.

I practice yoga every day but I have suffered from scoliosis since I was a teenager and a bad car crash and a white water rafting accident after that has left me in lower, upper and mid back pain for most of my life.

Yoga is not easy for me. Some things come easy, but many of those things worsen my back pain if I practice them too much so I don’t.

I have an extremely hard time back bending and the vertebrae of my thoracic spine sometimes feel like they are fused together when I wake up in the morning. I am strong and I can handstand/arm balance/Chaturanga my way through a practice without a problem but that doesn’t mean that I should!

I need space. I need flexibility. This is my homework. So I practice the things listed above as much as I possibly can, I make myself do it. I breathe and I listen to my body and I move with as much presence as I possibly can. Most of the time it’s beautiful but it’s also hard and there are days when nothing works.

And then there are moments like today when I spend 90 minutes on my mat and an hour in, this pose happens. And yes, I need a strap to even begin to contemplate Eka Raja Kapotasana and no, my alignment isn’t perfect and I can’t even reach my toes, but you know what? It felt good. Good! King Pigeon, or my attempts at King Pigeon, have never ever in my entire life felt good. And today it did.

This is why I practice: everything I do on the mat is valuable. Even in the difficult moments I’m on a journey that opens my heart.

And sometimes my heart cracks open just enough for my body to open up, too.


Author: Rachel Brathen

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Author’s own

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