Not so long ago, I was a half marathon runner, big wave surfer and mountain hiker. At my day job, I supervised large, one-of-a-kind home construction projects. My work placed extraordinary physical demands on my body. But everything changed the day I fell off the second story roof of a construction site.
When I hit the ground, my T-10 vertebrae exploded and my spinal cord got pinched. I was paralyzed and told by some doctors that I would never walk again. The body that was capable of walking and standing all day, lifting heavy materials and going on long runs was gone. But then one day I was able to move one of my toes and I started an eight-month physical therapy program. I had to re-learn how to walk. After 15 months of struggle, I was able to walk using a cane.
Eventually, I was able to go back to work as a construction supervisor. Even though all I could do was walk around the job site, I was happy with my progress. After two years, the doctors told me that I had reached a recovery plateau. I felt as though I could keep improving and that feeling led me to yoga. Four years after my injury, I started to take yoga classes. With enthusiasm I tried the Iyengar, Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinyasa styles of yoga at a studio in Bird Rock. When the studio closed, I continued a home practice for three years, certain that yoga was the key to my continued good health.
In 2009, I heard about Yoga One. By then I was a full time student at City College and their location on 7th Avenue was perfect. I was impressed by Michael and Amy Caldwell’s knowledge of yoga, teaching style and friendliness. For a year, I attended their classes as well as the Saturday morning Hatha class every week. Eventually, I tried other instructors and took on more classes per week.
I love the non-competitive space that all the classes honor, it allows me to move at my own pace and tune in to the sensations in my body. I enjoy the challenge of the level 2 classes but acknowledge that sometimes a yoga basics or gentle flow class is more appropriate. Over the years, yoga has kept me in great shape. I learned that balance, focus, confidence and not being afraid to fall are some of the keys to yoga happiness and advancement. Not only am I able to go about my everyday life on my own two feet, I’m able to do poses like handstand that I thought would never be possible for my body!
I still have nerves that haven’t regenerated. In some poses my body can only go so deep; it might improve, it might not. Either way, I have fun and give it my best effort. I’m still in pain (I call it sensation) of one sort or another every day, but I would rather have the sensation of a long challenging yoga session than the sensation I experience after sitting at a desk or lying around all day. Mindfulness meditation has helped me locate where each sensation comes from, with equanimity I accept them and therefore life is a pleasure not a pain. Gratitude, yoga, mantra, meditation – that’s the morning practice I do before anything else. It’s the way I put my Self first and honor the commitment I’ve made to my health and well being.
For me, yoga is a balance of mindfully practiced physical poses, right breathing, gratitude and meditation. For the last three years I have experienced all of these at Yoga One, in class and in workshops. Thank you Yoga One for providing a quality framework for students to physically and spiritually improve their lives, surrounded by support and happiness from all the great instructors and fellow yogis.
With respect and love for all,