Some years ago, I met Laura in hot yoga. Before class, Laura would be on the treadmill running and reading a book at the same time! A devastating cycling accident compromised her active lifestyle. During early recovery, she made a conscious decision to deal with and recover from this very difficult situation. It was a profound moment when Laura first returned to the hot yoga studio. While we kept in touch I couldn’t believe my eyes when she showed up for class. We had a chance to chat and I got to see her battle scars…and here she was requesting poses to challenge the very injuries compromising her mobility.
Today, I am happy to be able to interview Laura on her yoga experiences…
What brought you into a yoga class?
I first started yoga when I had a minor running injury – a pinched nerve because, I admit, I trained long distance and rarely stretched. I saw multiple professionals but, in the end, yin yoga got me back on track. As it turns out, yoga would always be there for me when life and my body was hurting.
How has the practice influenced your life?
Yoga has taught me to slow down and to connect my body with my breath. I am one of those people who, in their natural state, has a tense body. My hands prefer to be in fists and I scrunch my brow even when I’m trying to fall asleep. Previously, I never saw value in yoga – I ran, I lifted weights, I trained my muscles and my lungs but not my mind.
After my introduction to yin yoga I had another running injury. I had registered for three half marathons in a month and after the second race got terrible plantar fasciitis and couldn’t wear sneakers. With two weeks before my last race in the series I couldn’t train in my typical way, so I went to yoga almost every day, not once training in any other form. My last race was not only my best time for the series that month but my best half marathon time in my many years of running. Why? I breathed. Turns out that breathing is equally as important as running. I became a believer.
In 2015, I was in a serious cycling accident with multiple open fractures and other injuries. In hospital, it became crucial for me to breathe through physical and emotional pain and anger. Once home, yoga was one of the first activities I could enjoy because of how accessible it is for all abilities. As I rehabilitated in physio clinics I continued to attend yoga classes, first in a wheelchair, then with crutches, a cane, and finally, independently.
Memorable moment in class?
I took great pleasure as my poses became more upright, as I was able to transfer weight between my legs, my arms, I could feel my strength and determination growing from the inside out. To this day I strive to work into some poses that rely on my injured areas.
When I got into half-moon on my left, injured side, it was monumental. I know I silently cried in class many times, (pigeon is great for this!), I was frustrated by what I couldn’t do, what I had lost, but in doing so I was gaining insight into myself, my body, and my internal focus increased.
Biggest challenge in the practice?
My mind still strays, I think about the diapers I need to fold, someone with an upcoming birthday I shouldn’t forget, that argh, I need to shave my legs (always while stretching), but I also stop myself from going too far down that path – I press reset. I may not look like an advanced yogi, I’m not super flexible, I don’t always move gracefully from one pose to the next, but I am learning.
Something we don’t know about you?
As a newish Mum, yoga is something I can share with my son, it has been a way during COVID to connect with friends as we try classes over Zoom, and it is me time. I am so thankful that yoga found me and that I have experienced such wonderful teachers to lead my practice. Namaste.