I know there are so many physical reasons that my yoga practice aided in the healing of my back, but I feel the strongest reason for healing was because my mind and heart started to mend.
I found Mind Body Flow Yoga thanks to my trusty friend, “Google”. I typed in “Hot Yoga Clarence”. That was in mid-November. I had hit my rock bottom.
Let me rewind.
2019 was not a year I was mentally or physically prepared for. I was 38 and had two back surgeries. I struggled through back pain for 3 years. I herniated a disc from years of running and not enough core training to support that running (side note, I am not built like a runner). I had tried everything, but when I was unable to sit or participate in normal day to day life, I knew I had to have surgery. Little did I know that a week before my surgery my best friend of 32 years would die of breast cancer or that I would have a rare occurrence with my first surgery and need another, just 5 weeks later. My heart and body were broken.
Saturday, February 29th
11:00 AM – 1:15 PM
I went from being an active working Mom to homebound and depressed. I told myself it would be a few months, but after those months, my pain remained and the pain in my heart did too. I could not separate them. Did my back hurt, or was I just depressed? I had an excellent physical therapist that worked on building my strength and range of motion but I was still experiencing a lot of pain and discomfort.
Personally, I was faking it. I have an incredible support system, beautiful family, friends, and coworkers, but I did not feel like my former self. I was sad and hurt in my own body. I did not have a physical outlet that I could build a routine around. I walked sometimes and I would hurt for days after. I tried to bike ride, which left me in pain as well. All of this led to more sadness in my heart.
LIVE Music Vinyasa
Vocalist and guitarist
8:00 AM – 9:15 AM
I remember the day I sat at work, tired and frustrated. I had recently turned 39, and in preparation for the year leading up to 40, I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do or experience. Taking a “hot yoga” class was on the list. In a moment when I was feeling defeated, I figured I would cross something off that list and see if I could physically participate. Additionally, I heard that yoga could be an alternative to PT and knew I needed continued help with stability and core strength. Never did I think it would be a life-changing event for me.
My Google search brought up Mind Body Flow Yoga. I read a few of Marina’s blogs and some reviews on Facebook. This sounded like a place I would be welcome despite, what I perceived to be, my physical limitations. In just a few minutes of reading, I could feel Marina’s authenticity and passion. I signed up for a trial, 10 days for $20.
I ended up going to 9 classes in that trial period.
I remember my first class, Foundation Flow with Amanda. I was nervous and full of self-doubt. My moment of enlightenment happened very early on in the class. I was in child’s pose, eyes closed, and Amanda’s calm and steady voice prompted me to “feel what I was feeling and release what was not serving me”.
Release what was not serving me.
Anger. Sadness. Heartache. I felt those things, but I recognized that they did not serve me. I released them for 75 minutes that first day on my mat. I cried during Savasana. I came back the next day. I was hooked.
I was shocked by what I could do. I had not bent over and touched my toes in almost a year. That first day, I trusted my body, forward folded and completed a vinyasa. Crazier still, was that I felt tangibly less pain when I walked out of class.
I started to feel a physical and mental shift. My pain continued to dissipate. I felt capable, energized and started to face my days with positivity. As I reflect back, I know there are so many physical reasons that my yoga practice aided in the healing of my back, but I feel the strongest reason for healing was because my mind and heart started to mend. Being on my mat allowed me to connect with the myriad of emotions swimming through my body. My grief ran completely parallel to that of my physical pain. It was so tangible in the past year that I could almost touch it. It was fueled by regret, of things I did not do or say, and of animosity, of what I would no longer have in my life with my beloved friend no longer on this earth. Yoga has taught me to not label that grief as “good” or “bad”. It is, what it is. I feel it, see it, and know that I am strong enough to push through it. Just like when I’m in plank, chair pose or half-moon – I ground myself in that moment, ignite my inner power, and when it is over, I don’t look back.
Yoga has become part of my weekly routine. I practice 3-4 days a week, and when I don’t keep that schedule, my body and soul kindly request I make time for it! On my mat I know I am on the path intended for me. I think about my practice often and what poses I want to push myself to explore further. MBFY is my partner on this journey. In every class, with every instructor, I feel supported and encouraged, but also pushed to get outside of my comfort zone. The culture of MBFY is tangible. Marina has created a home for all – being “welcomed” is an understatement. We are all loved, cherished and celebrated in the space Marina has created. Prior to Covid-19, I traveled for work and practiced in studios in other cities. It was during these times that I realized the incredible gift I have been given, right up the street from my home. The community of MBFY is like no other.
In the last 3 weeks, yoga has immensely helped me manage the anxiety we all have suddenly been faced with. As our world has literally been turned upside down, and we fear for the wellbeing of our families, neighbors, global brothers and sisters and largely, our livelihood, my mat has called to me. It invites me to tune out the news, the uncertainty, and the fear and reminds me to breathe. I pray during my flow. I send as many positive thoughts and prayers to the heavens while I move. Yoga has been a steady friend amidst the chaos.
I feel myself getting stronger and more present every day. When I am in a room (literal or virtual) full of well-practiced strong yogis and Marina says, “Yes, Courtney, that’s the way”, I know I deserve that recognition. I am a yogi too, even though my journey has just begun.