I lay on the ground and cried out in pain. Something was very wrong. I was drenched in sweat. People gathered around me. Someone told me to breathe slower. Apparently, I was hyperventilating. I folded my hands into a small bowl and, slowly, breathed in and out.
Breathing is essential in yoga. It’s a bridge to peace and tranquility. You can’t be calm when you’re out of breath. The way you breathe tells something about your psychological state. If you’re angry or nervous, you breathe faster and higher in your chest. You can also hear it in your voice. Breathing deeply, slowly, and evenly has a calming effect. It gives you oxygen and new energy. Deliberately prolonging breathing and, particularly, exhaling, is a very simple way of letting go. Of returning to your core, which is an essential tool in difficult situations. When exhaling, you can let go of everything that puts you under pressure, scares you or causes stress. Breathing out deeply prevents you from losing self-control. It’s important to inhale longer than you exhale.
learn how to listen to the whispers of your body
An Achilles tendon rupture feels like a hard kick in the back of your calf. The tendon between your calf muscle and heel bone is torn. Your Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in your body. Yet, all it takes is a sudden movement or sprint. It can happen to everyone, but it’s most common among athletes between the ages of 30 and 40. I fit the profile.
I asked for a phone and called the ER of the hospital I worked at. I knew the number by heart. I asked my colleague if they were busy. Not too much, why? I explained I had ruptured my Achilles tendon during a badminton match. It was January 2002. I was on the operating table in less than an hour, the epidural already kicking in. The surgeon joked I could forget about skiing that year. I joked back I’d already been. I stayed overnight. There I was, in my own hospital, now on the other side of the bed. I couldn’t sleep. In my head, I was making all sorts of arrangements.
Back home I was chairbound. I needed crutches to get around and couldn’t even make myself coffee. In the first weeks, I had to depend on others and was forced to take things slow. I wasn’t aware of it yet, but my ruptured Achilles tendon marked the start of a huge turnaround in my life.
Kurma’s praise for slowness:
The slow road leads back to origin. Without time no perception, without time no life. The fast road rarely brings happiness. No matter where you’re headed, you’ll only lose yourself if it’s on fast legs and with a rushed mind.
I didn’t possess such wisdom back then. For almost a year, I could only wear my hiking boots. It took a while for the swelling in my leg to go down and I still limped for a long time after. I was unable to work in the delivery rooms. My (umpteenth) training, the nursing teacher training this time, got delayed. It was time to take stock.
My love asked me to join him for BodyBalance at the gym. He enjoyed the classes a lot and thought I might like them too. He was right. BodyBalance is a blend of yoga, Pilates, and tai chi. I had never heard of yoga, nor of tai chi or Pilates, but I quickly got hooked and loved it. I also noticed the positive effect the classes had on my rehabilitation.
Our instructor was training to be a yoga teacher. If I ever take up another training, I thought to myself, I’d love to do yoga too. But I had just started my other training. Good girl as I was, I decided to complete that one first. Yet, I knew one thing for sure: in my next training, I didn’t just want to use my head; I wanted to use my entire body.
My need for yoga quickly grew. Yoga DVDs were hard to find in the Netherlands back then, so I ordered a big stack from America. Rodney Yee was my favorite DVD yoga teacher. I zealously practiced the routines at home. Slowly, I learned to listen to the whispers of my body. It didn’t have to scream anymore. I am still grateful my body pulled the emergency brake. Haste does not result in prosperity. Want to reach your goal? Take a detour! My Achilles tendon rupture became my golden ticket. But more about that next time.
For those interested
Do you want to learn how to listen to the whispers of your body? Are you interested in yoga and would you like to experience the benefits of yoga yourself? You can! The exercises are easy to learn and (with a bit of practice) can also be done at home. If you don’t live in or nearby Ommen, our Online Back Care Basics program offers a great alternative! Or join our free 6-day challenge “From Back Pain to Back Gain” first, and discover what yoga can do for you!
If you live in the neighborhood or are visiting Ommen, feel free to visit us. Or sign up for a trial class or a private class.
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