Continuing in the practicing while injured series, Marcela Gimenez-Clough is a relatively new instructor who has recently undergone a life changing surgery. Before she tells you her story, she wants to share a section of the Bhagavad Gita with you all.
Yoga is the journey of the Self,
Through the Self,
To the Self.
–The Bhagavad Gita
Yoga in Times of Pain
That's the self with a capital S. For me, yoga is a means to separate my connection to my highest self from the fluctuations of my conditioned living -- my mind, my thoughts, and my emotions. And I do this to connect to my true essence. You know -- the subtle, ethereal sensations of unconditioned peace, harmony, and love you feel in the darkest of times. That is my essence. And if you've felt it, you know it is your essence, too.
Paradoxically, I had to experience darkness to find it. And now I know that hardships and pain serve a purpose to help us continue growing and evolving. But here's what yoga taught me: Pain does not have to equate suffering. And I can find beauty, peace, and stillness in every experience, even if I feel anxiety, disappointment, pain, sadness, or anger first. Or even if it means I cannot practice asana (the physical practice of yoga) due to major, invasive surgery.
The gravity of my surgery speaks for itself. While a normal uterus weighs 50 grams, I had 306 grams of mass removed from mine through an open abdominal Myomectomy surgery. And the battle is not over, Several fibroids remain in me that are too small to remove at the moment, and my ability to have children is forever compromised through high-risk pregnancies only.
And you can only imagine what this implies for my ability to teach yoga or for my committed Ashtanga yoga practice. Five weeks after the sudden major surgery, I find myself connecting to my pained body through an awareness I did not have before. With every movement, I listen to my body. I adjust. I pause. I breathe. I love.
The pain and intense fatigue are teaching me to be more patient, gentle, and loving to myself than ever before. I am slowly starting to regain strength. I am slowly beginning to bend over and twist without significant pain, although it still hurts a lot to hold these movements for longer than a second. I am slowly starting to be able to breathe into my lungs for more extended periods.
This is my time to heal, and I must give time and space to my healing. The physical practice will be there for me to return to when my body is ready. For now, I am forced to surrender to the pain and practice being grounded and present in my recovering body. For now, I am savoring this simple connection to my breath -- the simplicity of my true essence. For now, I channel my connection to my highest self through the beautiful impermanence of the physical body.
And although my body is still recovering from the trauma it endured, through my heart's intent, I discover ineffable amounts of joy, peace, and gratitude in each small movement I take.
This, too, is yoga. And there is no set formula to its magic: You have to experience it.