On a purely physical level, yoga helps to un-kink my body. Multiple days in nasty chairs in hospital waiting rooms does nothing for physical serenity, let me tell you. Yet even in those waiting rooms, there's opportunity for a smidge of yoga. I was known to do seated twists, to use the arm of the chair as a bolster and drape myself over it, even to do a wall-assisted headstand when I thought no one was looking. Unfortunately, the neurosurgeon walked in at that moment and thwacked the door up against me. I'm not sure he's over it yet!
Truth be told, though, I got more mental and spiritual benefits from yoga. I began to wonder if the conscious decision to dedicate my practice was really different from prayer. For some people it might be, but for me it's not. And as a person of faith (however "out there" my faith seems to my co-religionists) prayer comes naturally most of the time. Well, some of the time. But one of those natural prayer times is crisis. Dedicating my practice is just another version of connecting. Even when I'm not physically with my friend, I'm linked to her, and the intentional dedication of my practice to her links both of us to something stronger and bigger than we are.
I'm learning in my yoga practice to detach myself from outcomes. I get so very few, after all! But in my regular life, which has some challenge of course, most outcomes can be controlled through the force of my not-inconsiderable will. Typical marital angst, kid issues, employment strife... that kind of thing. This illness with my friend is one of the rare times when the outcome is absolutely unavailable to my intervention. But that turns out to be irrelevant. Who knew? In yoga, I welcome the posture I have today and invite an improved version into my body (with no certainty that it will ever come); with this illness and recovery, I cherish the Becky we have today and remain hopeful that improvement and progress can still happen. It feels like the same process to me.
And then there are days when nothing goes right. Time for a little grief yoga. I decided that I would live through it if I broke into tears in a public yoga studio. This was a step of some significance for me; I do NOT cry in public. I still haven't actually, but I am okay with the possibility that I might. I needed to know that there was a sanctuary, a place of peace and power, where I could retreat and step outside my own tangled mind for a little while. A normal faithful person would go to church. I'm having a teensy bit of trouble with that just now, so the yoga studio became my sanctuary.
It's been 5 months since my friend was injured. We've moved out of crisis into a long period of uncertainty. There's really nothing I can do -except the next right thing. Just accomplish the task in front of me. And if that task is meditation or triangle posture or headstand, then the world has a tiny smidgeon of peace and focus and balance that weren't there before. And wouldn't peace and focus and balance be important and worthwhile offerings to the world, even if there weren't a crisis?
Other things helped too. My partner, my friends, my on-line community, music, prayer... all of it. But I would not have wanted to face these past few months without my yoga practice.