Doing daily plank poses and wearing a back brace are my current reality.

Who am I? I have been asking that question a lot this month because the rug has been pulled out from under me in terms of how I perceive myself.

Despite what I know about yoga philosophy and about the human body, I am in a place of uncertainty and fear. I have a back issue; the kind of issue that I can’t solve with a little rest and improved posture. Some days everything feels “normal” and other days I’m in crippling pain.

When my back condition is triggered, the pain is incapacitating. If I’m standing, I can’t sit down. If I’m sitting, I can’t stand up. Using the toilet and getting dressed are challenging. It sucks.

For years, I have known that I have had a spinal defect and I have lived with the inconvenience of chronic back pain. Until recently, I have managed it successfully with my yoga practice. Lately, however, things have shifted – literally. I have, among other things, a spondylolisthesis that has become unstable. Here’s a link that explains spondylolisthesis a bit more:

What sucks just about as much as the fact that this is causing pain, is the fact that it is shaking my sense of self to the core. I perceive myself to be healthy and fit. I’m strong and flexible. I love to move! I teach yoga and ride bikes, for heaven’s sake!

So, how can I do what I love to do when I’m not supposed to flex or extend my spine and load my back? Who am I if I can’t practice yoga or ride my bike?

For the moment, I am someone who wears a back brace and does a lot of core work. For the moment, I am someone who is living with uncertainty and with a whole lot of hope. For the moment, I am calling upon my support network to help me find stability and comfort – not just in my spine but in my mind and heart.

I don’t know where things will go from here. This life we are living is full of twists and turns and pain and joy. This latest twist in my life will lead me in new directions and I’m curious to see where I go.

Right now, it feels like an opportunity to look straight at my fear and explore who I am. As much as it hurts, it feels like an opportunity to get real.