After three back surgeries I can honestly say that I haven’t taken a single pain pill. My doctors told me it wouldn’t be possible but there is not greater motivation than the desire to prove someone wrong. Even the nurses pleaded with me to take the medication on their regimented medication plans but I wouldn’t budge. This wasn’t because I was “too tough” for medication but because I knew I could find a healthier way to manage the pain.
Of course, like many of you, I had heard of the “life-changing benefits” of Yoga but was always skeptical. I never understood how breathing and stretching (which is all I thought yoga was) could help me and my pain. I mean for god-sake my spine was falling apart…
In addition, my biggest fear was that I didn’t see myself as a calm and centered person so how could I possibly do yoga? I was used to lifting heavy weights and the intense training that came with serving as a soldier in the United States Army…
But if I had any hope of proving the doctors wrong and not taking pain meds I needed to be open to anything and I will be the first to tell you that Yoga is no joke. I said more cuss words in 1o minutes of Yoga than I ever have in a single setting before and I cuss a lot. But after I was done with the “session” I felt better for the first time since my injury. For the first time in over three years my pain seemed to finally fade away and I felt calmer.
But here’s the thing. If I dug my feet in and refused to try yoga because of my skepticism I would have never felt relief. Yoga has helped me more than any of the first three surgeries have and I owe that to my willingness to try something new.
Now, three years later, I try to do Yoga every day and still cuss like a sailor while I do it. I still have no idea what I am doing and it’s hard as hell but I love it. There are times I fall flat on my face and can’t wrap my brain around how the instructor expects my body to move like theirs but that’s ok because it helps me.
If I never gave Yoga a try I would be so discouraged with my recovery but I adapted yoga to who I was. If I need yoga to recover then I needed to find a way to make Yoga fit my personality and that is exactly what I did.
Moral of the story: Be open to new things but don’t ever change who you really are.
**Yoga+cuss words= increased quality of life and happiness for this guy**
By: Timothy A. Natale
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