Rest and heal = six weeks without yoga

“One of the greatest discoveries a person makes is to find they can do what they were afraid they couldn’t do.”

Henry Ford

Last Tuesday, my yoga instructor Jeannine announced “bridges” as the theme of the class.  Because some of us didn’t know each other, Jeannine asked that we go around the room and introduce ourselves, and also add our own insight or observation about bridges. The introductions and their insights were revealing. Some people feared bridges, some helped others overcome those fears, and some spoke of bridges both metaphorically and physically. I did both.

I shared that when my Grandma died, somehow I wound up with a piece of the cable from the original Golden Gate bridge. It was revered by the Chicago and Quincy grandchildren. It was orange and heavy and a symbol of one of the most beautiful and strongest bridges in the world (at least our view of the world).

Golden Gate Bridge Cable
Golden Gate Bridge Cable

The second bridge that I spoke of was Al-Anon. I was getting into my routine and I was finding that attending Al-Anon was a bridge toward forgiveness. I was grateful to have found that bridge.

I came to the class optimistic, and a little bit fragile from the afternoon’s Al-Anon class. I didn’t feel weak, however, until I was grounded. Mid-way through the class I was frozen in pain. A series of poses and stretches had aggravated a hernia, whose appearance left me grounded in tears. I laid still, breathed through the pain, and wiped my tears. I was so angry because I knew I was standing on a bridge, and the only way to get to the other side was to throw a bunch of stuff off of it.

My enthusiasm for bridges plummeted. I was doing just fine moving through my yoga practice, avoiding the poses I knew would aggravate the hernia. What I didn’t appreciate was that I was stagnant. I wasn’t growing. I was existing. I was unable to ever reach a pinnacle because this wound was holding me back.

I’ve already shared what happened next, my surgeon found it the next day, surgery was scheduled for Tuesday, and now it’s fixed. It’s Thursday, two days since a few stitches fixed the little bugger, which left me disoriented and in pain. It’s one week and two days since the hernia appeared in the bridge class, because of which I won’t be returning soon.

Just before entering surgery, my surgeon said no yoga for six weeks. This plan of care brought me to tears. Yoga is integral to my physical and mental health. I am stuck on a bridge for six-weeks, oh man, I had some choice words. When I questioned the length of the hiatus, my surgeon asked:

“You do want your body to heal Karen, don’t you?” 

“Of course, I do,” I said.

“Then let it heal,” he responded. 

“Ugh,” I sighed. I was so angry that he was right. I had to let my body rest. 

The word bridge makes me think of: transition, connection, unnatural, man-made, high, low, crossing to safety, feared, dangerous, marvels, beautiful, rusty, old, new, shiny, suspended, cables, brick, wood, rail, cars, rise, ships, boats, gears, rivers, stone, Brooklyn, Golden, Mackinaw, St. Louis, Illinois River, and more.

King Iron Bridge Company 1887, Minneapolis, by Karen Craven
King Iron Bridge Company 1887, Minneapolis, by Karen Craven

The purpose of a bridge is amazing. Bridges unite what wouldn’t have joined without them. I spent a lot of time this year working toward finding peace, which requires facing the truth about how I treat myself, others, and want to be treated. I now understand how many people and things served as bridges in my own journey.

As we near the end of 2017, I’m not happy to be standing on this bridge. Six weeks without yoga feels like a punishment. This period is forcing me to unpack the junk in my gut and my trunk and discard it. I believe the hernia kept all that junk inside, and now it’s time to let go of it. With every birth and death, loss and love, we know the timing and the environment of our greatest challenges are never perfect. It’s up to us to roll with it.

Come Groundhog day, I should cross over to the other side of the post-hernia bridge. I am hopeful that my heart will be lighter, my abdomen stronger, and my mind clearer and wiser for accepting this period of rest. And then I can really appreciate savasana and everything that precedes it.

7 Thoughts

  1. When I hear the word bridge I think of the Japanese footbridge over Monet’s water lily pond that he painted many times. One painting hangs in the Art Institute. I was fortunate once to stand on that bridge surrounded by timeless beauty and serenity. I felt like the bridge had no beginning, middle or end. Karen, I hope you bridge into serenity soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kathy. I know exactly what bridge you are thinking of and am so grateful for the beautiful image. I am so glad you stood there, too. What a lovely gift you have given me. Thank you so much.


  2. Hi Karen … so that’s why the surgery … Funny thing: I got the same warning from my doc yesterday when I
    was told I needed knee surgery: no yoga for 4 to 6 weeks! I’m considering mindfulness meditation classes
    in January instead. I think it’s about turning misfortune into opportunity. That’s what makes the following true: “All shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”, (as said by 14th century mystic and anchoress, Julian of Norwich, and echoed 600 years later by The Beatles in “Hey Jude”.

    Love to you, Sweetie, and to all who live as consciously as you do,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning! How lucky am I to practice at a studio where the owner says, no yoga for six weeks, Karen? We’ll just have to add more meditation to the schedule. When life gives you lemons …


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