I remember my first yoga class like it was yesterday. It was a restorative class filled with props and long static poses. I sat there, laid there, contorted there wondering about whether I was breathing properly, how I looked, and what I was going to do after class. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I didn’t join yoga initially for its physical benefits. I just desperately needed self-acceptance and to find a way to relax my mind. I walked out of that class with a sense of peace despite the fact I had planned my whole weekend during shavasana.
The next day, I showed up on my mat again. This time the room was packed, the lights were dark and it was hotter than balls(funfact: 33°C). It was an ashtanga style class and the teacher encouraged us to leer away from using props. So I teetered and swayed, wiping the salty sweat from my face for the next 75 minutes. I remember trying to breathe through my mouth when the teacher wasn’t looking and resisting child’s pose, as if it was some sign of failure. It took awhile for me to get it. I spent a lot of the earlier days of my practice with biased beliefs, thinking child’s pose and props had no place in my ‘fast-paced’ practice.
Now, fast forward nine years, as you likely know, I was diagnosed with a rare Leukemia. I have now undergone three rounds of chemotherapy within the last three months but more traumatically, I spent a week in the ICU scraping by life. I scared pretty much everyone I know and when I finally woke up from my fentanyl dreams, I was a shadow of myself. It even took a few days for my soul to catch up with me. I had no recollection of the past seven days and I felt a pain in my heart that words cannot describe. A sense of loss and feeling lost became my new state of affairs.
I knew I had to find a way to reconnect with my body and more importantly my soul. I spent the next week forcing myself to eat, battling insomnia, and working with a psychologist to rebuild my appetite for life. She reminded me to be gentle and kind with myself which eventually brought me back to my mat. The only thing was that during my time in the ICU, I lost a drastic amount of muscle mass and had a build up of lactic acid which basically turned my limber body into the tin (wo)man.
I laid on my mat flowing through the tridosha series. My breath was labored and I couldn’t even reach my feet in happy baby, something I had been able to do for years. I was flooded with disappointment which was far from the effect I was looking for. I rolled up my mat and left it to collect dust for a few days while my ego recovered.
Since then I have rebounded back to a daily practice. This time working from a place of compassion and self-acceptance. It is not uncommon for me to use blocks, straps and bolsters as it has now become an important part of my yoga therapy. I spent so many years with a drill-like, progress minded practice that when I discovered tantra yoga four years ago I was finally able to move past my conditioning and experience yoga from a place of healing.
Now, when I wake up or find time in my day between or after trips to the hospital I return to my mat. I find solace in child's pose. I take comfort in using a strap to hold my body and I cozy up in my blanket for shavasana while I surrender my legs over the bolster. I no longer practice with expectations or rules. I take time to be in my own universe and it has become so precious to me.
My practice has become a humble awakening. A reminder that Everything is Temporary, a mantra that has gotten me through so much of the last few months. So if you are a yogi (or not)... don't be afraid to make friends with props (ask for help). Let them hold you (Hug someone you love), let them guide you(Trust), and when you're ready let them go(Set yourself free)! Just know they are always there for you! And so Am I!
I currently do not offer Private Sessions however, if you have any inquires about yoga, meditation, yoga philosophy, or specifically tantra, I am always available to correspond! My email is ayla@tridoshaYogaYYC.com or Click Here for a form!
. Ayla . @missaylanova .