Just over 9 weeks ago I slipped on some ice. In a fraction of a second, my yoga practice changed, as I broke my foot.
The second, third, and fourth metatarsal bones had broken at the top of the arch of my foot. I left the hospital in a hard cast, on crutches, with a bruised ego, and the warning not to put any weight on it. The surgeon would call me in 2 weeks to follow-up. The ER doctor determined I didn't need surgery yet.
I clung to this word, yet, understanding that the next 2 weeks and how I looked after my foot could be critical to the treatment and outcome of my broken bones.
My attention shifted immediately to how this would affect my physical yoga practice.
In the two weeks prior to the unfortunate fall, I had begun to find a lot more space in my hamstrings and hips. I was gaining core strength and spine flexibility. I almost had a solid headstand, and my muscle awareness and control was improving. I was terrified of losing all of the space that I had found in my body.
I created a mental checklist of what the next 2 - 3 months should look like.
Seated wide leg forward folds and simple seated forward folds would allow me to continue to work on my hamstring flexibility. A reclined restorative practice with bolsters and blocks would allow me to continue to work on spine awareness and flexibility. A focus on 3-legged chaturangas would increase my upper body strength.
I took a deep breath. It would be ok. I just needed to modify my practice.
Over the last 9 weeks, I have definitely modified my practice. The modifications were not how I imagined them though.
Seated forward folds - wide legged or otherwise would only work with support under my knees and cast. I found I was unable to activate my muscles in the way that I was used to. I wasn't getting the same stretch.
Nothing worked as I had imagined and had hoped that it would.
I spent a lot more time on the couch snuggling with my dog and a lot less time on my mat.
I got out my journal and I wrote and wrote.
I wrote about my frustrations with my broken foot. I wrote about how disappointed I was in myself for not being more dedicated to my practice and making a stronger effort.
I wrote about how appreciative I was for the support I was receiving from friends. I wrote about how much worse my injury could have been and about how lucky I was that recovery seemed to be going well.
I have had a lot of time to feel all of the feelings. To write down all of the feelings. To reflect on all of the feelings. To truly process all of the feelings.
This has become my practice.
Now, I am able to slowly start a more complete physical practice so long as I am wearing my shoes with an orthotic support.
I am sure over the next few months I will continue to feel all of the feelings. Frustration with setbacks and muscle atrophy. Celebration of being able to achieve more modified poses. I will continue to honour these feelings, giving them the time to be fully digested.
The true win for me is realizing how much my yoga practice has grown. I no longer define my practice by how long it is or by how much I sweat. My practice now helps me to process thoughts and feelings as I navigate through all of the things in life.
I am recovering from a broken foot at this time in my life. At another time it might be depression or anxiety. Life throws illness and grief at us. Life is not fair to anyone. Each one of us has our own struggles and situations from time to time that require us to modify our yoga practice.
I now choose to celebrate opportunities to modify my yoga practice. It means that I am being present and true to my body's needs. Modification of my practice means that I have a practice. It might not look like yours, but that is ok. There is a good chance that it didn't anyway.
Written by Morgan Hyam