Challenges have always been my greatest teachers. At first I cringe when they seize me suddenly. Soon enough I am grateful that they pulled me out of the comfort zone and unlocked hidden powers I never knew existed within me. They always come unexpectedly in moments when I don’t learn my lessons. They make me face my weaknesses; embrace my vulnerability. And then patiently lead me on my path to inner adjustment and self-improvement. They give me no options but to face the truth. There’s no slacking off, no escape. If I turn my back they snatch me from behind. The only way is to play ball. And I do. I ride them as opportunities for change – making the subtle and gross amendments in my life so I can function in a place of personal integrity and truth.
Most recently, I had to battle against the odds again. I was strolling my nine- month baby on the street, browsing the tasks for tomorrow in my mind, when my sandal got trapped into a crack on the sidewalk. I rolled my ankle – breaking the bone on the side of the foot. The twist nailed me to the ground. Six hours later stuck at the ER room I was on crutches, dying of pain, worrying how I’d take care of my baby by myself. Until that point in life, I had never solicited help. But now I was forced to. It seemed so counterintuitive. I felt intimidated and resentful. Why did this have to happen now that I had recovered from postpartum depression, shed all the baby fat, and was back on track, juggling motherhood and work at ease? Clearly, because I had to learn lessons that I had always tried to avoid. My injury turned into an exciting learning curve.
After the initial blow I discovered the amazing adaptability of my own body. I did not feel comfortable on crutches, so I had one of my students get me volleyball knee- pads. They were so well padded and cushy. And yes, I began to crawl, just like my baby. I was forced to descend in the scale of developmental movement and shift perspective. The crawling brought me down to the ground. I started to pay attention to detail and to marvel everything happening above and around me. I was in awe of every little thing. I realized I was brought to the kneeling plane because I needed to relearn. To view the world from the eyes of a baby and see how exciting and giant it looks from beneath. I began to see the little things that wove the bigger tapestry of life. I began to rebuilt my life – from the ground up.
With that sparked enthusiasm I rolled my mat out the second day of the injury and began to rediscover the practice with my baby. Despite the warnings of the doctor, there were so many things I could do – all fours, cat-cow, cobras, worms, fish, plow, inverted poses forward bends and back bends. Unbelievable! Yoga poses are simply tools for observing and understanding how we behave in the face of challenges and achievements, and ultimately, how to be happier and more engaged in our lives. And I realized this, only because I found the courage to exit the comfort zone and explore the edges of my being. Normally, I would wait for the recommended six weeks in order to get back on the mat, but now the recovery and rediscovery became part of a learning curve.
I also learned to accept help when it was offered. And instead of always saying “I am just fine”. I asked all my friends to rotate and come help with the baby. I discovered how loved and appreciated I was, and how many strong bonds I had forged with people throughout the years. I was living “divine reciprocity” and my heart was overflowing with gratitude. I realized that so many people actually have to live and function like this all life. I felt so fortunate and grateful. I was no longer resentful for the plans I could not fulfill. I was no longer feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I was enjoying a newly discovered aspect of myself full of courage and curiosity. I was surrounded by care and love and I was at the level of my baby – just to properly understand its needs. I no longer attached to the drama of the situation, but cherished the injury for helping me grow. I learned to be patient and not push things one way or the other. Just watching them unfold was so awe-inspiring and gratifying.
The unexpected shift of perspective had informed all the aspects of my life. My projects at work crystallized. My bond with my baby grew stronger. The relationship with my husband smoothed out. My yoga teaching felt supercharged and inspired. My meditation practice deepened. Everything fell into place. Just because I did not resist the challenge, but simply rode it. I felt I was riding on the back of a giant whale, trusting its pace, direction and course. My challenge was my guide that steered me into rediscovering the infinite potential that I held. It gave me a different perspective to life, which piqued my curiosity to find the most honest and open way to perceiving the world. I felt purged and transformed. I was amazed at the new ways in which I began to experience life.
Challenges are an inevitable part of life. Whether it’s challenging times, people, or circumstances. They are not roadblocks, but sign posts that lead us to discovering how our resilient spirit becomes an asset that seems to transform challenges into opportunities for growth. Yoga gives us the tools to learn and grow from our challenges. How we shape that transformation to help us move forward is entirely up to us.
Next time you stumble embrace the challenge as a blessing in disguise!
Empowering Yoga Routine: Ride The Challenge (intermediate level)
This well-rounded Yogea routine rides through the full spectrum of pose types and sheaths of the body, to invite openness and curiosity in the process of one’s self-improvement. A brief attunement combining pranayama and mudra, fuels the solar plexus and the quest for self-inquiry. The warm up introduces standing neutrally and externally rotated poses to anchor into the physical body. Spinal twists and inverted kneeling poses fire up the energetic body – catalyzing the chakras to a healthy spin. Gentle back bends coupled with hip openers ignite the heart center and awaken the emotional body. Seated and kneeling forward bends adorned with mudra that invoke insight, morph into worship positions to help shut the mental body down and open the portal to the higher intuitive self. In the end all five sheathes of the body are integrated to restore the balance and elicit clarity on the path to bettering one’s self.