Most of us “yoga people” find yoga by seeking it out, by attending classes and practicing the postures. We find yoga by reading books and going to weekend workshops and reading the popular blogs. By following the newest phenom on Youtube or listening to meditation podcasts in the carpool line. There is no shortage of ways to “find” yoga in this digital age. But I am here to tell you that sometimes it is OK to let yoga find you.
The first time yoga found me
The first time yoga found me was about two years after I began studying yoga. I had just had major surgery, and recovery was not easy. I spent most of the first month in bed trying not to become depressed and discouraged at the slow pace of recovery. The discomfort was difficult to manage those first days and weeks, and I experienced bad side effects from the pain meds.
One day when I was on the verge of breaking down, yoga found me. It gracefully slipped into my room and encouraged me to breathe deeply into the pain. It taught me how to essentially massage the affected area with the movement of my breath. I became calmer, even fascinated at how I could reach deeper into the body with just my breath and attention. Mind you, I wasn’t all of a sudden miraculously pain-free, but I did learn how to better manage my situation without becoming panicked or hopeless.
The second time yoga found me
The second time yoga found me was about ten years ago when I was struggling to forge a new life for myself after a divorce. I made some bad decisions and felt very alone and lost most of the time, even though I had wonderful and supportive family and friends.
Yoga found me hungover in bed one morning and insisted that I get up and go to my mat. I obeyed. And I continued to go to the mat consistently over the following weeks and months, getting my life back on track, putting myself in a better frame of mind to meet my current husband, and re-establishing the discipline that keeps me sane and happy.
Yoga found me again
Now yoga has found me again. For the past week, I have been in bed, struck down by a wicked case of the Ecuadorian flu. I have had a fever, chills, backache, joint pain, and a cough so deep it hurts my kidneys. I have basically been in a tight fetal position under four Andean alpaca blankets for the better part of a week while my sweet husband waits on me hand and foot.
The first day, yoga stayed away. It wisely left my fever and coughing fits to try and sort themselves out. My body had to have time to assess the invader and come up with some type of a game plan.
The second day, my achy muscles were tightening and collapsing inward, contracting from the shivering fetal position I had been in for too long. This is how yoga found me as it quietly eased into bed beside me and reminded me that I could direct my shallow, cough-infused breath into my back. Inhale-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4. I could feel my lungs gently expanding, allowing a brief respite from the violent hacking that had become my new norm.
The third day I knew I had to get out of bed before my hips and back got…stuck. Yoga found me sitting on the edge of the bed with humped shoulders, still coughing like mad. But yoga encouraged me to slowly go down to the floor and get into child’s pose. Then it listened to the feedback my body provided and guided me into a couple of cat/cow stretches, a very lopsided pigeon, and eventually asked that I place my legs up the wall for a few minutes before I crawled back in bed. I was finally able to release the grip of the oppressive fetal position.
I am still not fully recovered as I write this, but yoga has managed to “find” me every day since the second day of this illness. I have not done anything fancy or remotely difficult in the yoga department, sometimes being content with simple breathing exercises, but I have done what my body has needed.
People wonder why I am so passionate about sharing yoga with my classes and through my books. This is why. If you are ever so low that you can not find yoga, yoga will find you.
K. Kris Loomis is the author of the humorous travel memoir, Thirty Days In Quito: Two Gringos and a Three-Legged Cat Move to Ecuador. She also writes adult parables and short stories as well as books about yoga and meditation. Kris is a determined chess player, an origami enthusiast, a classically trained pianist, and a playwright. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and two cats.
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