The narratives we run in our heads determine our experience of life. But how often do we recognize our thoughts as narratives? Or do we just take them for the absolute truth? The answers to these questions determine our personal power, especially when faced with challenges.
Are we a victim of our past conditioning – the sum of our experiences and society’s expectations – or can we take ownership of the choices we make going forward? Such a question led me to changing my own life over 10 years ago, when confronted with the seemingly unavoidable fate of a hip replacement. Through consistent and at times challenging practice, I shifted my narrative and changed the course of my life, health and happiness. And saved my natural hip. But that was not the end of it. Life brought me back around to similar circumstances years later – a high-paying opportunity in Seattle’s tech industry offered a path to combine my business background with my spiritual calling. Being back in the business world brought certain of my high-stress narratives back into play: I had to perform at high speed, no matter the cost to my body or my own self-care. While some of the work was fulfilling and rewarding, my body began to break down again when faced with old stories, behavioral patterns and a more sedentary lifestyle. My scoliosis flared, twisting my spine out of shape and shifting my other hip out of alignment. I was in excruciating pain and could barely walk my dog around the block. Luckily, I also remembered the story of my own rehabilitation and healing through the power of my yoga practice. I got back on my mat and day by day I saw progress, little by little. Because I was older than when I first healed myself with yoga, it took longer than I wanted. I had to confront that my body at menopause was not the same as my body pre-menopause. The journey – while necessary and still within my power – would take more patience, perseverance and kindness to myself than it did in my younger days. Once again the healing that came with consistent physical practice combined with the psychospiritual benefits of yoga, and I began to shift my narrative on an even deeper level. I was not helpless, old and depleted – I was in the prime of my life with experience and confidence in my capabilities. The only limits I had were those that I placed on myself by clinging to ideas that no longer served me. I went back to the basics, the foundations of the practice. I focused on alignment first and foremost, and accepted the support of props to assist in building strength with the body I had now. And most of all, I let go of the need to look like the yogi I had been in my younger days – because clinging to that prevented me from growing from the place where I currently stood. I took this rehabilitation experience and developed the Yoga Foundations series for GloForward. Through practice, it builds alignment and strength in the places where we can lose power as we age. As we saw in our feature on nutrition – staying strong in midlife is essential for our bone density and long term health. I hope you’ll accept the challenge for the next 14 days, and see what a difference it will make in your body and your life. By practicing each segment in the 5-part short video Yoga Foundations series twice over the next two weeks, you’ll be well on your way to a more empowered experience of life.