Yoga isn’t for everyone. If you’re healthy, strong, flexible and inclined towards being a part of a larger collective, then yoga is a perfect match. If not, then please do Tai Chi!!
That’s how I felt when I had to undergo emergency knee surgery in 2017.
I was a university level basketball player and in 2005 I had a terrible fall on the court. I was told that I had a tear in my ACL and needed to hang up my sneakers and retire from my budding career in the WNBA. I was also told that I could either get surgery done or I could just strengthen my leg through exercises and continue with life.
As an irresponsible, impatient 20 year old, I chose to do neither. So I immersed myself is my 20s and everything that it brings with it – first jobs and with that financial freedom, relationships, new friends, and a level of delusion I can’t believe I had and seriously wonder why countries allow people in their early 20s to vote! Every time I wore high heels and danced the night away, I would sprain my knee and the tear in my ACL would increase a little. I would lie in bed for a few days, binge watch TV shows and get right back to it after that. This went on for a decade.
In 2017, I was not dancing, I was not wearing high heels. I was in my most sensible pair of flat sandals and was standing still in a book store, when I suddenly felt my right knee shift out of position and intense pain followed. I couldn’t straighten my knee and had to be wheeled to the A&E. The MRI showed that my ACL had said enough was enough and had decided not just to tear completely, but decided to also take a little piece of my meniscus with it as it slid off. Surgery was the only option. I was brave about it until a week after surgery and I was told to lift my leg up from the bed (like in Eka Pada Uttanpadasana, but only to 45 degrees!). I couldn’t and the pain was so terrible that the physiotherapist had to yell at me to lift my leg 5 degrees off the bed. Needless to say, it was one of the most trying times in my life and I wouldn’t have come through it without the support of my amazing husband!
9 months after surgery and PT, I felt good – I had reached good flexion and extension in my knee and all was well. I decided to try and join something a little more restorative and I tried my hand at yoga. It did not go well. I couldn’t do 70% of the poses. Something as simple as Virabhadrasana 1 was hard to do and lets forget about Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana! I was dejected and demoralised and almost gave up after the first class, but then I had paid for 10 sessions so decided to just continue with it while it lasted.
I’m glad I did. My body responded. My knee felt more stable as the classes progressed. I was able to bend further and lower and even if I couldn’t get into complicated baddhas, I saw that my body had the confidence in itself, even if I didn’t.
Yoga IS for everybody. The “ideal yoga body” aspiration isn’t. It’s okay if you can’t do a headstand or a full chakrasana. It’s okay if you can’t even do Virabhadrasana 1. Just keep doing it how much you can and slowly, but surely, your body will start to surprise you. I have experienced this over and over again. Nike got it right, quit thinking – “JUST DO IT”! 🙂