It truly is amazing when an event in life is so challenging, and yet, when we journey through the challenge it may become a blessing.
That is how I feel about two of my life’s biggest challenges and how they evolved into blessings.
I was born with two spinal defects that went unknown for many years. By the age of 12 I was experiencing back and sciatic pain. Then, at age 16, I had a car accident that changed my life.
I was driving home from work and hit black ice, lost control of the car and it rolled upside down into a ditch. I hit my back on something in the car which caused bruising in the exact same place that the spinal defect was.
The emergency room doctor thought I was walking only because I was in shock.
The image below shows a normal spine (lumbar vertebra and sacrum) and the different grades of a spondilolisthesis. Mine is a Grade 4.
This accident resulted in a spinal fusion surgery and a six week recovery in bed in the hospital.
The blessing? I was made aware of the defect and just how serious it was.
For many many years post-surgery I lived with neck, shoulder, back, hip and/or sciatic pain. Sometimes this was extremely debilitating. My body learned ways to compensate from the surgery and structural changes in my body to get through.
As I entered my 40s, I was introduced to therapeutic yoga classes. My children were young at the time. This practice gave me a place to truly connect with my mind, body and spirit taking care of my needs to be better able to take care of my children’s needs. It allowed me to relax and rejuvenate. The breath, gentle movement and meditation worked wonders for improving my wellbeing. It was 1¼ hours a week that I truly loved and looked forward to!
Then, in 2008, I slipped on the ice just twice in close succession. These slips led to debilitating back, hip flexor and sciatic pain. I walked all hunched over, shuffling along, bawling from the pain. I couldn’t even walk up stairs. I had to be carried. This was the result of my muscles being so incredibly tight from preventing a fall on the ice and not releasing afterwards. Muscle relaxants and pain killers did not touch the pain I was in.
I called my yoga therapist.
In a 45 min session with her I was able to reduce tension and pain through breath and slow, small, gentle movement addressing the areas of tension in my body that were causing the pain.
I could actually get out of bed and walk with a little more ease afterwards. I practiced the breath and movement two to three times a day and, with each practice, the pain reduced a little more. It was completely resolved within a week.
The blessing? Recovering from this debilitating pain inspired me to study how yoga therapy empowers people to resolve their pain. I absolutely love learning, practicing and sharing Yoga Therapy!!
I truly don’t know where I’d be without my yoga therapy practice. It provides me with a means to meet and greet life’s challenges, both emotional and physical. When a challenge arises and I am present through being curious about my thoughts, how I move, how I breathe in that moment I allow myself to continue down my path of wellbeing.