I knew the moment the dog paw hit my toe that it was broken. Just a glancing connection of a furry digit to mine and that was it: black and blue, toe looking outwardly akimbo and a limp for protection. No cool story to tell, no battle wounds from bravery to connect to my bruised and broken foot. Just a simple run in with the sweet and very large dog that lives down the road.
In that action of breaking my toe my yoga practice in the standing up and strength based flow that it was has come to a halt. I can no longer do simple balancing poses like Vrksasana with my left foot on the ground. Plank, runner’s lunge, and any of the back heel down warriors are out of the question. My pinky toe hurts too much. I am limping and favoring my left foot and in the process throwing my right side into whack as it works to protect its partner.
Today, for the last week, for the coming weeks this is my practice.
I have to learn to watch what hurts, to listen to what works and notice where I need extra stretching and strength. I cannot rely upon what I “know” I am able to do because those parameters do not exist. My body has evolved into one with strong limitations and so must my practice.
When we come to the mat every day we are different. The amount we slept is new. The bending, twisting, stretching and damage we have done to our bodies in the last 24 hrs is new. Our energy field and levels have shifted. Our minds are filled or emptied in fresh ways. We are not the same as we were the day before and the day before that.
We step on our mat and begin again.
What does not change is our inner inquiry into who we are and how we can work to accept that with ease. We continue to explore what is working, what feels great and where we struggle. We continue to witness and observe the breath which sustains our practice even when our feet cannot hold us up and our frustrations abound.
I’m a yoga teacher who cannot do fancy yoga poses today, tomorrow or for many weeks to come. My practice will be gentle and restorative, healing and feel like home. I will be reminding myself to find ease and opening with each stretch and to listen to where my body needs patience and care. I will become a student of my practice in a way I have not in many years.
Last week my practice was power and flight.
Today my practice is restoration and acceptance.
This is the evolution of my practice.