“This little Yogi went to Tough Mudder”
“Probably the toughest event in the planet” is advertised by the Tough Mudder organization. I have always been up for a challenge, and this seemed like enough of a challenge for me as a marker to see where I am in my healing process.
8 years ago I was in a serious car accident where I was rear ended by a car travelling well over 100 km/h and we were at a complete stop. My injuries were extensive, concussion, whiplash, fractured sacrum, thoracic twisting in my spine (scoliosis), 2 disc bulges in my neck, along with numbness in my right arm, pelvic damage, and recurring internal bleeding. It was a struggle to walk, to stand up, to lift anything, or use my right arm in any capacity. I couldn’t turn my head or look up and was in constant pain. Before the accident I was living a very active life in Lake Louise, involved in Yoga, but also I was a Ski Instructor and competed in Big Mountain competitions, and in the summer Adventure races and Downhill mountain biking races. I also enjoyed rock climbing and taking large overnight hiking trips.
The accident made it so that I had to give up most of my passions as well as my work, as most of my jobs required physical movement such as teaching skiing and gymnastics. Even though I had to give up most of my sports, jobs, and quality of living, I could still do Yoga. To be more specific I was able to do Savasana, and breathe, and practice the Niyamas and Yamas, including patience, acceptance and forgiveness. The breathing and meditation practice was revolutionary, I became calmer, kinder and more grounded. Over time I started to add gentle movement, some days were better than others. It took about 1 year before I could lift my head off the floor unsupported. The physical movement I could do was incredibly therapeutic and involved slow, mindful movement focusing on good alignment. It was through a practice of kindness and therapeutic alignment which helped me strengthen my body but perhaps more importantly helped me begin the process of letting go of deep-seeded pain that had settled into my tissues. The combination of meditation, relaxation, and physical alignment work taught me how we are connected on all levels, physically, emotionally and mentally.
My terrible car accident turned into a blessing as it helped me learn and experience the amazing strength and healing capacity of the body and mind as well as the empowerment of yoga and from this I knew I was meant to teach and share the beauty and power of yoga.
Many doctors, specialist, therapist told me that I would never have full functioning of my body, and that I would have chronic pain for life. 8 years later, I still experience pain, especially after activities where I failed to be mindful, but it is happening less and less. I have learned that by being mindful I can pay attention to the moment where I start to push my body beyond its capacity and either stop, or alter the activity and in this way, I stay pain free. It was a slow process starting with simple, slow walks around the block with gentle yoga sessions and grew in time where I added different activities such as swimming, hiking, xc skiing, snowshoeing, pilates, dance, and this year, Tough Mudder! Tough Mudder involved running, bootcamp classes, swimming, and plyometrics. In each activity I payed attention, I paced myself and learned what my limits felt like. I learned that every day is different and to let go of any judgement and instead practice acceptance and love. Tough Mudder also taught me to have a sense of humor and not take myself too seriously, to work as a team and accept other people’s assistance in order to accomplish a task. Tough Mudder was one of the most fun activities I have participated in, one of the most challenging, but also one in which I came away pain-free. This may be the catalyst I needed to show that I can explore some new sports and activities and maybe one day go back to the sports I once loved!
Perhaps my car accident was “probably the toughest event” for me, but the life lessons I have learned and the joy in witnessing my own healing and growth has also made it one of the most invaluable experiences in my life.