From Paralysis to Handstand: How Yoga Saved My Life

Kim OgburnBy: Kim Ogburn

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,
Namaste, Kim

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2 Responses to From Paralysis to Handstand: How Yoga Saved My Life

  1. Pingback: The Importance of Connection & Community | Yoga One

  2. Pingback: Happy 2nd Birthday, Yoga One Blog! | Yoga One

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