A mental basket case I may be but physically these days, I’m in great shape. I am free of pain, the scars have all healed and I have full movement in my arms and shoulders. I’ve been so encouraged by this I decided to restart my online yoga classes. I believe the daily yoga I’d practised in the weeks leading up to my diagnosis contributed to my strong recovery, but I had to lay off exercise in the weeks after surgery.
So tonight I decided to get back on the mat. With the kids in bed I went through the once familiar routine of rolling out the mat, loading up the class and asking Ted to put the kettle on in 25 minutes.
I chose the easiest sequence to give me what I hoped would be a gentle reintroduction. However within 30 seconds, I was unexpectedly confronted by the new normal. I could not follow instruction 1: sit with your legs crossed. My right knee refused to go anywhere near the floor, and my hip creaked with pain when I tried. Could it be coaxed downwards with exhalations? Absolutely not.
What followed was 30 minutes of utter humiliation. Collapsing in balance poses, hamstrings juddering when attempts were made to straighten them, arms quivering in down dog and a right hip that revealed failing after failing. And feeling my fake boob pressed onto my thigh? Very, very strange.
I winced, I panicked, I wept and felt sorry for myself. None of this is very yogic, I know. But come on, is there any part of me that’s going to escape unscathed from this ordeal? Jesus.
Three months ago, on a visit to Faye’s, I went through a few poses whilst chatting with my oldest pal. I had the awareness to feel self-conscious and explained. “It’s just I’ve got good! And I want to get better. I only need to miss a couple of days and it feels difficult.” Clearly this was too much hubris for the Gods’ liking – perhaps that’s when they marked me out for such an extensive hobbling.
I’d become hooked, I told her, after recognising the bang for your buck yoga offers, making it excellent exercise for the essentially idle. It’s physical, spiritual and mental and after tonight I’m exhausted in all three departments
I just can’t shake the memory of how good I’d been, although at the time I was much more focused on my limitations, of course. I couldn’t make up a more accurate metaphor for my entire life right now.
Tomorrow I’ll go back and the day after too and I’ll make tiny steps towards flexibility and this will represent another opportunity to ‘grow’ on my ‘journey’. But sometimes I wish so damn hard that I could turn back the clock to the not-so-many days ago when I was limber and didn’t know it. Nor did I know I was born.