Living with Intention:

5c3ba7f6-b054-4f0d-b313-0003a35303c1Over the past couple of weekends, I have had the opportunity to renew my studies with Gert van Leeuwen, the founder of Critical Alignment Yoga and Therapy. It has been a powerful experience for me in a couple of significant ways.

When Gert was in Calgary last May, I was living in pain and fear. I was afraid that I would never again be able to move with the freedom I had always taken for granted, let alone do any kind of meaningful asana practice. I was afraid that the even the most basic movements would drop me to the ground. And, I was afraid that one of those times, I wouldn’t be able to rise back up.

What made the back bend workshop with Gert so significant was that he not only taught us how to move mindfully through a series of spinal extensions, he also addressed the topic of fear head on. I needed to hear exactly what he said when he said it. Back bends are the one category of yoga posture where I still experience pain and limited range of motion in my spine. What a great way to explore fear! I brought his wise words into the Critical Alignment Yoga practice he taught and left the studio feeling strong and confident.

It now feels like I have come full circle. It was a year ago that I fell apart physically. I have been undergoing consistent treatments for my spine and will continue to do so for a while longer. I have also been working mindfully and steadily to rebuild strength and stability in my spine. My asana practice over the past year has been very basic, focusing mostly on the core and key stabilizers of the hips and torso. Only recently have I felt confident enough to expand my practice into some of the yoga postures that would have dropped me to the floor a year ago.

I am rising up from my big fall. And it wasn’t just my body that fell. It was my sense of self. Yoga teaches us that body, mind and spirit are not separate. So, the past year has not been just about making my body healthy, it has been about a lot personal inquiry about what I need to feel vibrant, strong and steady in my heart and mind as well. This is an ongoing inquiry that continues to bring me a sense of wholeness and connection to my Self.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance of my wise teachers who include the doctor and physiotherapist with whom I continue to work closely. I’m also five months into a two-year biomechanics course with Katy Bowman, who is teaching me a lot about nutritious movement. Gert van Leeuwen continues to teach me a great deal about mindful movement and preference patterns in the body … and about facing my fear! My wonderful teachers also include my beloved family, friends and all those who have attended my classes and teacher training with me over the past year. Your support has been instrumental in my recovery.

Dearest teachers, you have taught me about patience. You have taught me about ego. You have taught me about compassion. You have taught me about faith. You have taught me about perseverance. You have taught me how to rise up. I bow to you. Thank you.