However strong, flexible and enthusiastic one is, everyone has to face challenges through a continued practice. This is a story of what gave me the strength to resume my yoga. I have been practicing since early childhood. In my mid-twenties, I came face to face with injury, and learned that it need not stop me from continuing my practice, especially if done with awareness.
I had a severe spinal injury from a fall that hurt a nerve around the sacral region and the hip, bringing me to my knees. It took several months to recover enough to walk even normally, and much more time to get back on the yoga mat for even the gentlest self-practice. I had to be very careful so I did not pull my spinal muscles or have any spasm.
From 2004, Amma’s words to me, “Amma loves that my daughter practices Amrita Yoga” have lingered spontaneously and almost continuously ever since, and would echo every time I bravely started on my mat. I remember I couldn’t even complete a full round of Surya Namaskarah (sun salutations) the first couple of times. I would feel so tired, and fall asleep halfway through the sequence.
I shed tears every time I was on the mat and would just remember Amma’s face and Her words of inspiration. I felt grateful to be able to walk – to be here with all this. I would carefully stand in Tadasana (mountain pose). I would feel the tension in the lower spinal regions. I would take a deep breath and draw my focus inwards. Even a little movement to raise my arms overhead was a big challenge for me then. In this way, the injury taught me to move with an acute awareness of every moment and movement. It gave me a deep inner sense and meaning of the present.
The minute my attention strayed, the body would cry in pain. I learned to be meticulous in every move and in every transition, doing the simplest, gentlest poses with utmost care and attentiveness. The practice gave me a deeper insight and experience of ‘beginner’s mind’. I kept focusing on the breath and going deeper. Every breath became more vivid.
I experienced so much more connection with the body and with such increased awareness. I explored the new tingles and sensations in each asana. The practice took me to a level away from this physical body. I adjusted each asana carefully to suit to the present moment of pain and the body. I reached forward in Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend), then noticed tears rolling down. The asana pricked a point of injury. I cried throughout the rest of my practice all the way into Savasana (corpse pose).
Resting in Savasana, my body hummed with renewed circulation and prana (vital energy). It felt like every cell was giving gratitude for caring. I contemplated how long it takes to heal. Through all this, I knew I was on the right track, and my soul was rejoicing with the reaffirmation of the healing power of Amrita Yoga, Amma’s presence and Her sankalpa (resolve) for me.