Laura, my bruised but not broken yoga instructor, motivated us to consider the refinement of our yoga practice; the refinement of our life. We create a safety net of healthy practices when we routinely engage in Pilates, yoga, fitness, nutrition, supportive relationships and self-care practices. These habits sustain us. We practice faith, fitness, values, not just to go through the motions, but to strengthen our mind, body and spirit for days that life does not go as planned. Some days we feel strong on the inside and our physical appearance reflects this confidence and overall wellness. Some days we go to class/work/school with a broken spirit, fighting an internal battle, although appearing well, masking our internal pain with a smile. Some days we feel and look bruised and battered on the inside and outside. Then finally, as Laura demonstrated this past Sunday, with her black eye, limp, and ankle splint, in spite of appearing injured, her spirit was strong, determined, vibrant and humorous.
Laura encouraged us to make personal adjustments to our practice. If during practice, a challenge is in order; test your strength and skills, risk appearing awkward or uncomfortable, don't be scared to try something new. If your body and mind suggest the opposite, simply being in the pose with comfort and ease for protection, then honor your body and its need for security and familiarity. If injuries did not permit Laura to express the full pose, she still had the option of refining her practice to a seated position or assisting herself with a yoga block or blanket. She knew she did not have to quit, options to practice were still available. She referenced a prior shoulder injury that limited back bend poses and instead in the interim she became highly skilled in poses she otherwise would have avoided. As her shoulder healed other parts of her became stronger. We can advance our life, advance our practice even during times of hardship. It is because we have a practice of wellness, a practice of self-care, that we continue to refine ourselves even in troubled times.
When we have an unexpected set-back, we have the choice to let the experience define us or refine us. Fortunately for Laura and her husband the injuries were , from her perpective, relatively minor. They were driving slowly and safely when they hit "invisible sand" on a curvy country road in Canada. Their bike slid and they went with it off the road. They were grateful to acknowledge to one another as they returned to their bike, that yes, even with some bumps, scrapes, sprains, and bruises they were "o.k." They were able to continue their long-awaited vacation, the experience refined them rather than defined them. Laura and her husband knew the risk of riding their motorcycle; in addition we all know the longer we engage in an activity whether biking, driving a car, running a race, playing sports, horseback riding, or yes, even doing yoga, the greater the likelihood there will be a fall. Maybe you were at fault for the fall, maybe someone recklessly, intentionally, and perhaps figuratively speaking pushed you down. You have a choice if that fall defines your life, (stalls your vacation,) or refines you. Spectacular views, new relationships and fulfillment exist if we move forward.
You have practiced and refined your skills and talents especially for times such as these. Not for when the road is smooth, but for when it gets rough. When we fall, and we will, even if it is not our fault, we have the capability to move forward because we have spent our life practicing moving forward. Maybe the way we move changes, maybe the tempo is slower, maybe we adapt our usual method, but we pursue that which is in front of us. We refine ourselves with grace, with courage, with focus, with practice.
We all have teachers, adopted parents, who desire to love and guide us. Just like Laura and Ali in Milwaukee and Cedarburg, Julianne in Jackson, the wonderful Jen Martin in West Bend ...those days you question your ability to deal with the fall on your own, there are friends who will help and not hurt. They may not be yoga instructors. They may be pastors, nutrition specialists, motivating trainers and coaches. My prayer for you is you also know your internal Guide, your most trusted trainer, parent and friend. May you have faith in your abilities developed through your consistent practice. May you trust that there are good people, good friends, good coaches who will help you recover from a fall. Leave the hurt in the dust, especially those who knock you down; express gratitude to those who build you up. Let your daily life be a practice of refinement, we sharpen and strengthen one another when we walk in the Light. Thank you to those children and adults, whose light shines through the darkness...whose light shines even when they have a right to hurt. Your light is a testimony of your faith and your strength. Thank you for sharing it with the world.
Thank you for reading.