Fatigued from the humidity and heat of recent days, I opted for a non-heated yoga class this past Thursday, hoping to soothe my body and mind with a moderately paced practice. I sank onto my yoga mat, peering curiously at the towels covering the mats around me. This isn’t a hot yoga class, I thought, I’m not going to sweat enough to need a towel, right? Right?? And before I knew it, I was in the midst of the most challenging and fast-paced yoga class I’d ever experienced. Towel envy descended quickly as my arms quivered through 108 primarily arm and core-focused poses in 45 minutes. At the end of the class, we did three rounds of three different push up variations. On my last leg of strength, I modified the pose by dropping my knees to the floor and accepting that my upward and downward movements would not travel very far. I exited the studio in a daze, embarrassed of my weak performance. As soon as I crossed the threshold into the lobby, the instructor caught my eye and waved me over. He scurried out from behind the reception desk and swept me into a big hug. Sweaty and confused, I gaped at him as he gently released me. “I just want to tell you how proud I am of you,” he said looking down at me with a smile, “I kept looking back to you and when others had given up on the sequence, you didn’t. You modified the pose and tried every time even if you could only move an inch. You are an inspiration.” In truth, I felt like the furthest thing from “an inspiration” in that moment, but I felt the blood rush to my cheeks as I smiled and thanked him.
This morning, the sky outside is a clouded calm, the quiet and lazy beginning to my August long weekend. I sit here remembering his kind words, as well as a very different morning, a very different beginning not so long ago. Three years ago today, I was admitted to the hospital. I was manic, riddled with inflammation in my brain, my chest lining, and a large majority of my joints. That day, any control I thought I had in my life was lost, my independence, my ability to work, my ability to reason, even my personality had changed. My life as I knew it was wiped clean.
I guess you could say that since then, I’ve moved forward one inch at a time. At times, the inches felt like triumphant victories, at other times, pathetic under achievements, but ever so slowly, my life is being re-written. I plan to mark this anniversary by one, a trip to the Farmer’s Market to celebrate the changes I’ve made to my diet, and two, by doing something that scares me and takes advantage of my “newfound” mobility (my first spin class – eek!). And of course, I will mark this anniversary with gratitude for the people who have helped me get to this day and for the opportunity to continue to move forward, inch by inch, one failed push up at a time.
To my amusement, my Yogi tea bag quote this morning sums it all up quite nicely: