Saturday, November 14, 2015

Day 14: The Power of Breath

Today I did yoga. It hurt like hell. However, my flare finally subsided enough to allow me the energy to exercise, so I figured I'd get back on the horse. Of course, doing pigeon pose immediately reminded me of how far I've come on my exercise journey. Getting my hands to clasp over my head, with one knee bent straight before me and the other leg straight back behind me, is one of the hardest poses I've been able to achieve since I began exercising four years ago. I spent at least a year just getting myself to sit up straight, and it took another year to lift my hands off the mat. The day my crooked arms flung up above the shoulders, I swelled with the sweet joy of pride, before collapsing in a heap of anguish on the floor. Still to this day, nothing rips through the agony buried deep in my back muscles like pigeon pose. 

Exercising has allowed me to get to know my body intimately. As I've lost weight and developed my muscles, thus working through much of the pain imprisoning me, the true sources of my suffering have revealed themselves. They've also become a lot less horrible. Just one of my examples: When I was my sickest, I couldn't really grip with my right hand. This meant I couldn't cook or write. It really sucked and greatly impacted my ability to function as an independent adult. Years of slowly building up my strength with exercise, while trying to be somewhat respectful of my limitations, has restored my ability to use my right hand. It's also shown me the pain actually comes from the osteoarthritis in my neck, which was also the root source of my two-week headache a few weeks back. That flare up, ironically, was due in part to being so weak I couldn't exercise, which makes my muscles seize up like a vice. The interconnectedness of it all, and how easily fatigue and pain tip my illness-life balance in disastrous directions, is so preposterous it's enough to make a person go insane!

So today I focused on breathing in and out as I moved my body. What I was or wasn't able to do, well, I couldn't focus on that and my breath at the same time. What I have done in the past, or think I should be capable of doing today, those weren't concerns I could hold on to, either. So I let it all go. I focused on now. Today. Moving forward. My blessings and gifts. Not how much ground I've lost, where I should be, where I'm not, or how to get back on track. I moved my body to the best of my ability and just breathed.

Thanks for joining,


  1. Excellent! And I'd say going right into Pidgeon Pose while being mindful of your breath is quite an accomplishment! You are where you are in the now, which is all we really have, as you well know. Progress is a beautiful thing <3, I think your muscles have great memory and haven't forgotten all you've done to get you to where you are now.

  2. Way to go Leah, and what an inspiration to all of us. Being able to move comes from moving although it can also cause much pain. I to try to work through and with the pain and it is definitely a balancing act. I am one and a half years out of a major back surgery and was released to do simple yoga but with caution and boy is it hard. I have lost so much flexibility due to this and the fibro that hasn't helped. Thank you again, Leah for your continued fight. We are survivors...............Gail French