I went to my first yoga class in eight weeks last night, and remembered that we are broadcasting our program with Seane Corn this week, which we originally produced about a year ago. At that time I was in the local Bikram yoga studio three or four times a week, sweating and smiling at the instructor’s injunctions to “struggle harder!” I love the arduous athleticism of Bikram practice.

X-Ray of Kate's FootBut I had foot surgery over the summer, and am still nursing it eight weeks later, my right foot three sizes larger than the left. It’s healing nicely, but it takes a long time, and the Bikram heat just isn’t the right thing for a swollen, healing appendage. That has meant no yoga for the first few weeks, and then being restricted to some basic stretches and breathing execises at home. I miss the community, the sense of building on other peoples’ energy and strength that I get in group practice, and I was nourished to join the teacher and two others holding long, slow, challenging poses in an extended floor series last night.

During my hiatus, people told me to do any yoga I could manage — even if it was just mindful breathing at my desk at work, or listening to recordings of asanas while lying still on my mat. One tool I turned to was this video of Seane Corn, which I watched in my early recovery, when I could barely hobble to the kitchen.

Kate's Big FootCorn reminds us that the yoga we do on the mat is only part of the story, and that yoga is not only for beautiful, young bodies. That’s a message also underscored by our program with Matthew Sanford, who was rendered a paraplegic at the age of 13 after a car accident. His unique experience of the mind-body connection, and the lessons about inhabiting his entire body, is related in Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence.

Even a temporary disability like the one I am now impatiently enduring has an effect on one’s sense of self, of one’s personal power, and one’s vulnerability. The “spiritual technology” of yoga, these teachers help us understand, gives us a way to be more fully ourselves, whatever our physical strength or limitation might be.

What’s your practice? How do you bring body, mind, and spirit into alignment?

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16Reflections

Reflections

I've found that even if I don't have the energy, am too tired, have a cold or am completely distracted I show up anyway. Even if all I do is half of the poses the devotional aspect does provide healing in and of itself, and ujjai breath can take the focus away from any suffering and back to the source.

John, your phrase "I show up anyway" reminds me of a similar sentiment Roberta Bondi told Krista in an early interview for the program "Approaching Prayer":

"We often have a kind of notion as part of this highfalutin, noble picture of ourselves as prayers that when we pray we need to be completely attentive and we need to be fully engaged and we need to be concentrating and we need to be focused. But the fact is, if prayer is our end of a relationship with God, that's not the way we are with the people we love a large portion of the time. We simply are in their presence. We're going about our lives at the same time in each other's presence aware and sustained by each other, but not much more than that.

"Well, let me tell you a story about when I first started teaching in the seminary where I teach now. And I would just find when I came home at the end of the day I would be so exhausted that I could hardly contain myself. And I would be met at the car, usually, pulling into the driveway by my two children and my husband, who would all come out to tell me all the things that had gone wrong in the day, like the washing machine had overflowed and the rug in the dining room was soaking wet. And I would think, "Oh, I just want to go back to school." I would come into the house, and Richard and I would fix supper, and then we would sit down and eat and I would fall asleep with my head in the mashed potatoes. But the fact is that I knew all along that, however it was, it was better that I was there than that I wasn't there, that my family needed me, that being part of a family means showing up for meals. And prayer is like that. However we are, however we think we ought to be in prayer, the fact is we just need to show up and do the best we can do. It's like being in a family."

Thanks for reminding me!

What type do youpractice?

I just finished listening to Seane Corne and Krista. I first thought her language sounds so much like evangelical Christian personal help folk that I have heard in the past. By the conclusion of the program, I came to believe that Seane is simply amazing she has corrected the defects in both Buddhism and Christianity, and made one fantastic synthesis.

I got to hear only a portion of Krista's interview with Seane Corn yesterday and I was drawn to many phrases that Seane used. Today, while reflecting on that interview, I decided that so much of Seane's philosophy seems to be based in 12-step thinking. I'm a 12-stepper for a long time and it seems this way to me. Interesting that Rogercragun heard evangelical Christian thought in it.

Yoga has been instrumental in helping me confront and accept my alcoholism and addiction. After practicing for 3 years or so, I took a yoga teacher training to deepen my practice. It turned out to be a life changing experience, both illuminating and extremely painful. I moved through a great deal of fear and felt walls coming down that had been carefully constructed for 30 years. I couldn't hide in this process. I had to look at myself and my life.
I was fortunate to be surrounded by a compassionate, loving community, all of them facing their own difficulties and past, and as a group we drew strength from one another. These people saved my life.
Two years later, I am five months clean and sober and practicing yoga every morning. I attend AA daily and I hear a lot of AA in the messages of yoga and vice versa. So much of it seems to be about staying present, showing up, remaining grateful and humble and letting go of the painful things we don't need. Allowing God, whatever I believe that to be, into my life has taken away the loneliness and isolation that I thought would be there forever. Change is possible. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

I was listening to this evening SOF program about yoga, and I share my personal experience in case.. someone may want to advocate on behalf of yoga and get me interested again.

In the last three years I have become an "apostate", after 46 years as a fervent, bible-believing evangelical with several years as a missionary in Europe. I am now an agnostic, and someone suggested I try yoga. So I attended a class, which my friend said was suitable for beginners. I could not participate adequately, and in fact felt almost as if I had just attended an evangelical function, which scared me off quickly! A leader up front telling everyone what to do, calling out and performing moves that I had never heard of, a strange lingo that only the insiders knew, and no hope of twisting this 59-yr-old body into shapes that the others seemed to have no problem performing. I think at that moment, I understood what a person felt who had never before attended a church, suddenly finding himself in the middle of an evangelical worship service!

So there it is. Yoga sounds in theory like something that I might find useful, but my actual experience was not very pleasant. I don't need to be a "convert" to any other religion again, but am I being fair to yoga?

Portwes,
If the problem is the postures and lingo you might try Dahn Yoga. It has transformed my 62 year old body. Progress is inevitable.

I have also found Dahn useful in a spiritual sense. I now recognise I have all the God I need already inside me. My brain knows what is right and wrong. I certainly do not feel the need to worship anything. As for the world's major relgions, everyone to there own, but I cannot get past the harm done in their name. This suggests there is something very wrong with the script they follow.

I am changing my behavior to practise unconditional love for all. No easy matter for sure, but a good path to be on.
Will Layfield
Dahn Yoga Healer
Health.Smile.Peace.

 This is kind of a late reply but  I have had much the same experiences with yoga, at least yoga classes.  I started qi gong about a year and a hlaf ago with a lovely teacher, himself disabled.  It has been a  great experience and not painful as everything is done slowly and if it hurts you stop. 

What’s your practice? How do you bring body, mind, and spirit into alignment?

My yoga practice started when I was in high school in NYC in the mid-seventies. I got benefits right away with flexibility and focus. I continued through high school and after 4 years, I was hooked.

I stepped away from yoga for a couple of decades: life - college, move to the west coast, family, career. I found yoga again on a cable channel. And after all these years, my body memory helped me to remember poses and get back the "yoga calm" I had found all those years ago. I've done a few yoga classes around the SLC area. Now I've settled into a regular women's group who meets at a local church.

Just this year I was diagnosed with spine problems which manifests in lower back pain. My yoga practice continues to help me "create space" "stretch". There are some poses I can no longer do - anything that bends my back is very painful! Otherwise, I can stretch to my heart's content. What a blessing. I have something I can do to keep my body, spirit and mind into alignment.

I began learning yoga in the 70s in dance and yoga classes. I loved the stretching and focusing of yoga to reach out physically, mentally and spiritually. In l975 I was shot three times in a robbery attempt with injuries to my shoulder, arm and pointer finger. In l979 I began doing the yoga I knew off and on to help me deal with the nightmare I found myself facing. In l981 I started doing yoga regularly every day and still do it to this day. It was/is a key tool in my recovery. It took me a long time to come to forgiveness. I had a lot to forgive. My parents were murdered the same night I was shot. But in l996 I came to a place of forgiveness which I feel yoga played a big part. I can't imagine not doing yoga. As I get older I need it even more to continue to be flexible. Thanks for your show on yoga. It made me realize how very crucial this practice has been for my living.

Thanks, everyone for your stories of the impact of yoga in your life. Portwes, I wanted to say to you specifically, that though I have practiced yoga for 3 years now, I am not in any sense an adept, nor is it my ambition to be, actually. My balance is often poor, I fall over, and, well, Yoga Journal will not be calling to feature me on the cover. I recommend finding a yoga studio where you feel welcomed as you are--there are many that cultivate a warm and sharing environment. And, work at your own pace for the benefit of your own practice. It's not a race!

Thank you Carol, for your story of healing and forgiveness. I am heartened but not surprised to hear that yoga has played a role in that. Jeremy, like you I have struggled with addiction. I am so happy to hear yoga has been a help to you as it has for me. There are many ways to practice yoga, and many reasons for practicing it. For me, it has been a true gift, and I look forward to my foot healing so I can get back to it more frequently!

Sorry everybody--I thought I was being efficient by posting to this blog from my Facebook page, but I was actually being anonymous by accident. That post below is from me, Kate, and I just wanted to respond to some of the intriguing remarks of others on my post.
Kate Moos
Managing Producer

I enjoyed this program very much. I like yoga as well. Every guest on the show was extraordinary. I like the video above also; combining prayer w/yoga. Also, sending positive energy to people that need it. I was also amazed at one guest who devoted 16 years to the book of Job. That's amazing. I must read it again. I had a bad head ache yesterday. I did some yoga and felt better; no ibuprofin or acetimenefin. Yoga clearing my mind. I heard Dr Mcgee once discuss prayer saying that God loves to hear from us. We don't have to say an entire rosary or a structured prayer someone else has written. Just talk acknowledging his presence regardless of your mood. Just "show up." I agree.

Kate ~ I notice the date on your post - 9/09 - and wonder how your recovery is coming along. I am a yoga therapist, currently recovering from spinal cord injuries and reconstructive ankle surgery due to a near-fatal automobile accident. I'd love to connect with you.
Also inspired by the comments and discussion here. As an aside, someone mentioned not being asked to get the cover of Yoga Journal....I have been wondering WHEN they are going to start featuring "the rest of us," i.e. paraplegics, senior citizens, the champions of multiple sclerosis, etc.....all of whom are performing and LIVING yoga daily before my very eyes. I guess I need to pen them a note to that effect.
Namaste to All,
Tina

After my I broke my knee i was pretty much in the same situation and Yoga helped me to relax and to actually find peace as I was always doing sports and the injury left me home without nothing to do. I really have to thanks my wife for it.

It was a lifechanger for me to the point where I went to do a yoga teacher training in Goa with the guys from Smriti Yoga and now I'm fully recovered and teaching Yoga which is great.

Jeremy who posted above is probably a wonderful exemple of what yoga can bring to someone.