I've always admired a good looking car. My grandfather used to collect vintage T-Birds -- unique, graceful and damn good looking. I have memories of my mother driving around in her mint green convertible T-Bird looking like a Charlie's angel. As beautiful as that memory is, it isn't the fancy packaging that stands out in my memory as much as my amazing mother sitting behind the wheel. The car was just a fancy exterior that held an amazing soul.
In the same way, our bodies are simply vehicles to our souls. They support the power of the heart, the power of our truth, and the power of our love. The beautiful T-Bird was a fancy outfit for my mother in the same way that she was an angel sporting a mom-suit.
It's all about what lies beneath.
Our bodies are human. They are strong, but they break. They are beautiful but will wither. They are resilient but will succumb to sickness. Regardless of this body, the spirit lives on when we will it to, and spirit has the power to heal.
Last week I posted a story about the healing powers of yoga for Danelle Frazier Wilson. This is part two of her story -- or rather equal halves of the same heart. Danelle's best friend, Angela Eve Shershen, found yoga from a similar source -- one of tragedy. Fear not, there's no tragedy here. Both women took their lemons and made decadent lemon meringue pie! I am so inspired and proud of these women and asked them to share their stories to help others who need the reminder that we are not body -- we are spirit, and we all carry on.
"My Yoga Story" by Angela Eve Shershen
I was behind the wheel, chatter in my head, mentally checking off my "to do" list -- overwhelmed by the workload of my final class in graduate school. This was a typical commute through the valley on an inauspicious Tuesday as an oncoming car was suddenly in my lane. Fate brought us nose to nose and I braced myself for life.
Crushed against the airbag and bleeding I pulled myself from the wreckage. My body collapsed on the side of the highway as the air escaped my body, unable to reach the hand extended from the other vehicle. Kind strangers soon came to our aid.
The ambulance rushed me to another that was equipped for the life support I needed to be transported to our small city emergency room. Time was not on my side and airlifting me to another facility was not an option as doctors needed to respond quickly. My ribs fractured, my lungs collapsed, multiple contusions--but God had skilled the hands that worked over my body.
The days following were physically and emotionally excruciating. All modesty lost as my newlywed husband spent that summer lifting me, dressing me, bathing me, and taking care of my every need. Progress was slow as my breath would only take me a few steps, up the stairs, and then to the mailbox. Depression set in and I felt the "crash" the day I flipped through the newspaper to look for a friend's wedding announcement only to discover the obituary of the man who collided into me. A year of physical therapy passed but that emotional pain was repressed deeply.
This is what ultimately brought me to yoga. During my very first class a year ago, I fell madly in love with the practice. My breath was labored, the pace of the vinyasa was beyond my capability. Poses like chatauranga seemed insane, and my muscles trembled in down dog. Despite the challenge, I returned time and again. For months I came to the studio a half hour early to ensure I would get my mat situated in the back corner of the room. My teacher's words began to carry me through my practices and my eyes began to open to a new appreciation for my being. I knew almost instantly that the mat was the place where I would grow, heal, and transform. I was empowered.
Today, my devotion to yoga is deep. I have the confidence to unroll my mat anywhere. I awake every morning to meditate before beginning my day. My asana practice is daily. I am obsessed with the beauty of yoga and my capabilities. My heart carries me and my breath is strong through my practices. As I am thankful for every toe, finger, hair, and fiber of my physical being; yoga really taught me that "I am not body, I am spirit."
As I lay in my favorite asana, Supta Baddha Konasana, I connect a hand to my heart and the other to my belly. I feel my breath, my heart, my truth and I send it to the universe and receive it back. I can envision reaching a hand extended to me and I am at peace. My eyes are new, there is no "to do" list, I can drive through the valley and allow myself to take in the majestic beauty of the mountains; inhaling and exhaling pure and free. Enjoying the ride and open to the wondrous places this road will lead.