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I’d like to believe that each time my body meets my yoga mat that my practice beautifully unfolds into a rhythmic dance strung together through unrestricted and graceful movement. Bahahaha! While that would be lovely there is a brilliant reason it is called a “practice”, and that practice requires the intention of mindfulness, on REPEAT. I can’t say I have been a quick learner to get to the point of understanding that it takes an unwavering intention on mindfulness and listening to your body in order to keep a physical yoga practice for a lifetime.

 

I am not master at this and honestly I’m not sure that is even the end goal or necessarily attainable. Let’s face the facts, I’m human and to be human is to be imperfect…yoga practice and all.   I also have a body that is constantly changing, sometimes to my benefit and other times to my frustration; throw on top my ego, my personal comparative nature (human here), and my desire to grow, and now that mindful movement is playing second or tenth fiddle to nailing forearm scorpion…or ya know, a good ol’ fashion bind.

 

Oddly, I came in to a more consistent yoga practice in order to heal a hip fracture I suffered from overtraining during triathlon season. Go figure. And guess what, yoga actually worked to heal it. But the trick was slow and steady movement while listening to every voice of my body. Fast forward to becoming a yoga instructor and wanting to attain a “yoga teacher practice” I started to drown out the voices and would push passed all the ‘hazard ahead’ warning signs. Welcome in wrist injury, back injury, finger surgery…I could go on. Each time I would eventually heal but it didn’t take long to forget about my body’s cues, and head back into the territory my body all but begged me to avoid, or at the very least proceed with caution. It took full body screams, diminished sleep, and limping to wake me up and ask an honest “Why?”. Why would I ignore all of that internal wisdom in exchange for a forced moment of satisfaction that was inevitably accompanied by months of frustration, anger, hate directed at my body, discomfort, diminished progress, and a lost sense of self.  Basically all of the reasons I originally stated, each showing up in its own fancy form or fashion.

 

After confronting these answers, I set out on a journey to reconnect with my original yogic path. One of healing… first of the body, which for me always leads to my soul. 9 months in and it has still been a mission of trial and error as well as a sense of accomplishment. Thankfully, my physical body is healing from my L5/S1 disc tear and I can see and feel yoga with a beginner mind. I have checked in on REPEAT with my “why” of doing anything and landed in a new appreciation for the lessons I was quick to ignore in the past. With my focused intention on mindful movement, I am rediscovering my practice. And in the moments when I’m the only bridge in a room full of wheels, I can smile from the inside out with MY full expression.

– Kate Manchester

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