For those of you who have known me for a while, you should know two things about my by now. First, I say a lot of swear words (a.k.a sentence enhancers) and second, something like yoga is typically not my thing. However, I must admit that the desperation that has come from a life of chronic pain has forced me outside of my comfort zone. So far from of my traditional comfort zone in fact, that somehow I found myself doing quite a bit of yoga. Check out this article I wrote a few years back reliving the story of how I combined a truckload of cuss words with my yoga journey. I promise, it’s worth two minutes of your time…
After three back surgeries I can say with great pride that I haven’t taken a single pain pill. I have my fair share of medications but no pain pills. My doctors told me it wouldn’t be possible but there is no greater motivation for a man like me than the desire to prove someone wrong. Even the nurses pleaded with me to take the controlled medication on their regimented 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 I scoffed at the idea of trying it. I never understood how breathing and sticking my legs up in the air in weird positions could have any real benefit to my pain. I mean for god-sake my spine was falling apart so what could a few stretches do for me…
In addition, my biggest reservation to yoga was that I didn’t see myself as a calm and centered person. Prior to my injury, I was clanging weights in the weight room religiously with the best of them. I had six pack abs and 10% body fat (on my worst days) but now? Now, I was out of shape, broken and beaten up and just wanted my old life back…not yoga.
If I am being truly honest, I was too embarrassed to try something like yoga because I just wanted to get back to who I used to be. I was used to the grueling training that came with serving as a soldier in the United States Army and in the spirit of full transparency, I thought I was too good for something like yoga…
But if I had any hope of proving those doctors wrong with not taking pain medications then I needed to be open to anything. I bought a book on yoga from Amazon and gave it a try and…It…..Was…..Brutal.
I was sore in places I didn’t know you could be sore and I felt burning in muscles I didn’t even know I had.
I said more cuss words in 1o minutes of Yoga than I’ve ever said before and that’s saying something because 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 just the slightest bit and suddenly I felt calmer.
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. Chances are eventually I would have succumb to the pain and relented for pan medication. 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 but it helps me. I still have no idea what I am doing half the time but it helps me. 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 was willing to try something new and 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.
I’ve brought this lesson into my life in other ways too. Never say never. Be open to change. Try new things. Be creative and always look for ways to make yourself better.
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