Why so TWISTED, yogi?
I fell in love with yoga by accident.
I was diagnosed with scoliosis in 6th grade during a routine annual check in the locker room during gym class. I didn’t know what was going on at the time or what the gym teacher was looking for, but when she tapped me on the shoulder and told me to come with her, I knew something was wrong.
My parents took immediate action. My mom made an appointment to get an x-ray at Children’s Hospital in Boston. I still didn’t really understand what the visits up to Boston meant. We only really went up to Boston for special events or that time we flew to Disney and I got two snow cones in one day.
I didn’t understand why the doctor put a plastic photo with a squiggly line on the lit up board, or the constant need to wear that itchy backwards dress and bend forward to touch my toes. What I did understand was that while we were in Boston for these doctor visits, we always went to the Cheesecake Factory and at that age, I would pretty much do anything for a slice of cheesecake.
I stopped being excited about the post cheesecake slice when I was introduced to the brace. They told me the brace would fix my spine, or at least stop the curve from getting worse, while I finished my growth spurt. Even as this symbol of straightened hope, I quickly learned to hate the brace more then anything in the world and resisted it with everything I had in me. It was tight, hot and uncomfortable. I even started to not like cheesecake. That damn decoy. (We have since reestablished a loving relationship.)
My parents wanted me to wear it to school! Oh HELL NO! I pleaded with them to not make me wear it to school. Did they not remember the opening scenes of Forest Gump?
I wore it to school one day. One day. A kid knocked into me. He literally knocked. I was so embarrassed about having to walk around like a zombie is a corset. I began to ditch it at the bus stop behind the "Welcome to Pine Ridge Estates" sign before getting on the bus to school and then putting it back one before I walked home from school. I thought I was being pretty bad ass, sneaky, and defiant, but didn't realize at the time, the only one I was really hurting was my future self. My parents eventually caught on, which still comes as a huge surprise because my hiding spot in the woods by the bus stop was so strategically selected (even for a twelve year old), like a serial murderer hiding another one of his dead bodies.
We had to move forward. We went to a physical therapist for alternatives to the brace. She gave me a list of exercises to do every day, including cat and cow, or spinal flexion and extension, seated side bends, or lateral spinal extension, and twists, or spinal axial rotation. I usually did my exercises while watching reruns of Seinfeld with my Dad.
The results of doing the exercises were amazing. I slept better and had less back pain during day-to-day life. It was like a god damn miracle. Since then I have devoted myself to yoga. The practice helps with my body’s compensation act for the curve that exists, resulting in less pain and better posture.
I didnt have to be a prisoner to the back brace OR back pain and I found a new passion that connect my mind and body along the way.
Twenty three years later, I am still choosing yoga. Yoga creates inner awareness, mindfulness, confidence, empowerment, and self acceptance that has continually improved my overall quality of life. I love sharing the gift of yoga with others and hope that it can change their life as much as its changed mine.
Yeah, so I meant my spine, not my brain, ya jerk.