I dropped a bomb in my last two blog posts, and I am more than ready to write about more positive things. I've had the funeral, and I am ready for the resurrection.
I had to get creative beyond standard cross training while I was injured. Can you think of a single activity that doesn't use your lower body? One of my friends asked me if I was using the arm bike. I never got that desperate, but I was coping with my unrelenting desire to be outside. The summer we moved to Phoenix I was marathon training in the heat. I did one long run on a treadmill at the peak of the summer when the thermostat hit 125F. It takes extreme circumstances to keep me from lacing up my running shoes, and that day was barely worth it. Since retiring from wildlife biology, I was also adjusting to the culture of city life, civilization, and the business casual dress code cast over my school campus. Removing nature from my life was like plucking a wild animal from the rain forest and throwing it into a zoo. I was forced to adjust my perspective so I could invest in my future, the same way I did with my injury.
Phoenix has never been my forte for a few reasons - high levels of air pollution with regular advisories, polluted water with unnerving levels of carcinogens, nauseating traffic, aggressive drivers, and a serious lack of trees. But I have to give credit where credit is due, because this God-forsaken city saved my sanity last year. Where else in the country can you swim year-round in an outdoor pool in the middle of a green belt? Nowhere. Not even Los Angeles. It sounds pathetic in parallel to my wildlife days, but the greenery around the public pool was enough to attract hummingbirds and herons. So I became a regular, and envisioned myself in the crystal clear cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula. I became a master at upper body workouts, by using a buoy under my legs and pulling only with my arms and biking with my left leg.
When I finally reached a manageable pain level in January from my last steroid injection, I was able to walk without a limp. Around the same time, I was sitting in class listening to a panel of therapists pitching ideas in Occupational Therapy. One of these practitioners casually spoke about the integration of yoga into Western medicine, and she caught my attention. The idea of using meditative practice with movement called to me. I had turned my head from this idea previously because it involved the whole body; something I didn't have to offer. But the foundation of occupational therapy speaks to inclusion for those with disabilities.
I have met fellow yogis who claim yoga healed their ailments. I can't say the same, but it sure helped me cope with the physical pain and heartache. I found peace through mindfulness, slowing down, and focusing on my breath. A simple concept, yet difficult to practice. We all love the idea of slowing down and enjoying the moment, but society doesn't facilitate this. Without a strong intention, it won't happen.
In the last four months I have submerged myself in the practice of yoga while fervently reading the literature behind pain management, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and quality of life. The Western world of medicine has slowly been accepting yoga as a component to treatment, in part because of the associated literature. It is exciting being at the beginning of the book, with a deep sense of wonder and a thirst for knowledge. I went to my first yoga festival in Sedona, and shortly after attended my first yoga practitioner workshop with local health professionals. The last four months have led me to incorporate yoga into my final capstone project next spring for my doctorate degree. In the depth of my struggles with my injury, there has been a bold silver lining, which will be even brighter when I get to meld it with my love for running.
You'll notice in my pictures I am either inverted or using my unaffected leg as my base. Call it an imbalance, but for me, it's an opportunity to move my body while healing.
I am an outdoor and travel junkie who is currently completing my doctorate in occupational therapy overseas in rural Fiji. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.