I hurt my back again.

I was having a fabulous two weeks of no pain. I started jogging lightly again. I started back bending more consistently. I was a bit tight and stiff on Friday morning, and when teaching, I folded forward into uttanasana and my low back went into those awful, painful spasms that I have come to know all too well.

It’s funny, but I’m not as upset this time. Am I a tad frustrated? Yes. I don’t like having to be inactive. But this time, instead of getting frustrated and blaming the world, I feel like I have a lesson to learn. I need to learn how to fix my body myself. Obviously, the advice of the experts wasn’t helping me improve my low back weakness. I have the power in me and the resources at my disposal to figure out what is wrong and to fix it. For the first time in a while, I’m not looking to someone else for answers. I’ll find them myself.

Oh, I could write an entire blog post about physical therapists, their high-horses, and their lack of the intricate knowledge required for yoga anatomy. But I won’t, because placing blame is pointless, since my life is my own. Instead, I’ll just remember that because I looked outside of myself, I didn’t get the whole answer, because every BODY is different and a one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t always work. I’m doing my own anatomical research, and found a missing piece to the back-pain mystery (I won’t go into it now, it’s a work in progress). As soon as I am well, I am excited to re-train my body to work correctly. I’m also excited to pass on the information I’ll be learning to see if it can help my students.

The day I got hurt, my mental state oscillated between distraction (I caught up on episodes of “Private Practice” and watched “New Moon again”) and a mindful calm. Between those bouts of rest on the bed or the couch, I retreated to my back yard, where I knelt on the ground, barefoot, to pull weeds, plant the garden, pull more weeds, slowly mow and trim the grassand plant a flat of small, green ground cover. I moved slowly, accepting my body as it was, and focused only on the task at hand. Being outside and using the simple activity of pulling weeds was so calming, so healing, that it reinforced my belief in the true healing powers of the Earth. Engaging in earth-based activities can bring a sense of calm like no other. It’s one of the only places outside the occasional breakthrough yoga class where I can let thoughts of worry, frustration, or despair melt away and focus only on the moment — on the dirt on my fingers, the spines on the weeds, the bark under my knees, and the satisfying feel of an unwanted root being pulled from the ground.

So I cannot despair. For even if I don’t have my yoga asana practice, I can still have the peaceful mind, steady heart, and calm, calm, calm.

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