“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
As a yoga practitioner for over 30 years, I have stepped onto my mat at various weights, with or without child, with injuries here and there and certainly in moods or with perspectives that could have used some improvement. This time I am unable to use my legs, bend at the waist or maintain balance. Due to an accident in December, I am now disabled and move either in a wheelchair or with a walker. A new horizon and a new set of “rules” greet my every day.
How tempting it is to step onto my mat as a victim! Yet my teaching informs me that each moment is precious and it is the only moment we have. So I have come to think of my “yoga of disability” as a gift ~ asking me to persevere and to be grateful rather than power up and use my will to achieve some sort of pose. Every day is different ~ as it is with any yoga practice. I arrive on my mat and I begin my yoga sequence. A seasoned yogi opens to what shows up on that mat, and knows it is life revealing itself. I take my first deep breath.
What brings me to my practice ~ even though I can only breathe right now? I was run over by an SUV and sustained serious injuries. I am only able to sit and stand ~ but I can breathe mindfully and with awareness. I am lucky to be alive and I am grateful beyond words. So for me, my practice ~ and yes, my life ~ is about wonderment. I am nourished by a sense of wonder. Each day I open to the vastness of all that is, rather than all that is not. I open to all that is possible with yoga rather than the poses I cannot do or might be tempted to willfully, force myself to try.
As a yoga teacher, I have urged my students to accept that there is no perfect pose, rather what a pose offers and how we are in relation to this pose. I am finding that gratitude, compassion and trust ~ dedication and strength over time ~ are the qualities that bring me growth and progress, rather than an ability to do a certain pose in a certain way.
The skin around my chest is still numb from nerve damage, so breathing is a sensation that feels different from any breathing I have experienced before. How perfect: I have not been here and not done this! New beginnings are my gifts. And my yoga practice is rich with opportunity to re-define how I live and walk on this beautiful earth. All truly is a miracle.