Reflections

‘Recognise that the other person is you’ 2nd Sutra


The soul is our true soul mate. This body of ours is its temple and through this temple it speaks constantly to us. Life shows up every second of our day to remind us that we are all in this together. These messages we don’t often receive cause when do we ever stop to just listen? It is in stillness we hear the soul message loud and very clear, in prayer it hears our fervent wishes, our prayers. This is the realm in which miracles preside. Pain can be an awakener if we are present enough or if it’s that bad that our choices become limited and we are forced to confront it. 

A brave woman came to class a while back and as I usually do I asked what physical niggles she was dealing with and being in her advancing middle ages it came as little surprise to hear her mention arthritic knees. The class wasn’t to challenging and she attempted almost all the postures to her best ability and I silently hoped this would be the start of something positive for her journey. 

A few months earlier my own diagnosis came as a shocking wake up call. So there’s still more to learn and to master! This was just one realisation that came after a few days of asking why me when the doctor confirmed I had stage 3 arthritis in my left hip and advancing arthritis in my right. It’s a genetic condition he said, trauma to the joint could also be a precursor though its degenerative and there is no cure. SLAM! The door shut. So thats my life then, was my immediate thought, is downhill from here on to a very slippery painful descent to my grave. Why me I kept repeating over and over till I got it - as a yoga teacher I need to be totally present and super aware of what the students are confronting and unless I’ve been there how on earth am I going to be there for them was the answer I got!

Ok so what about what he said, no make that how he said it? The answer that came flying back was again unless you experience it how can you hope to understand what another is feeling. Right so how can I help my own self and by doing so help others to help themselves too came the next question and so my healing has began.

I have gained so much knowledge through the whole processing of the diagnosis, through unpacking exactly what my body needs in this situation and last but not least understanding how others are dealing with their own pain. Learning more about the foods to eat that inhibit inflammation, the spices that contain potent pain relief properties and the exercises that target the muscles that support my hips and how to stretch those that contract against the painful nerve impulses. Its such a fascinating discovery. Science is adamant that cartilage, once destroyed cannot grow back and this is what the doctor was trying to tell me. But science is never 100% certain about anything so I live in hope that one day some one will be able to stimulate the regeneration of cartilage.

Until then I manage my condition relatively successfully. I practice yoga, I teach, I dance, I swim and I can walk. The pain sometimes comes but mostly it goes and this is ok. There’s always the hip replacement option but as the physio said back then: ‘you have way more flexibility now than you will have with an artificial hip so keep up with what you are doing and lets monitor that pain.’  Today 6 months on from the shocking news my life is way better than I believed it could be back in my darkest hour. I’ve also had to accept that not everyone wants what I want and its not up to me to force that onto them. I can and will only ever be able to help those that wish to help themselves. The great news is there are many who do wish this.

And so what of the brave lady with the arthritic knees? When I asked her after class how she was managing the condition I was sadly unsurprised by her answer. Her eyes had said it all at the beginning of the class. She was powerless and did not believe that anything she did would actually make it better, so why even bother. She hasn’t been back to class.


Cassandra Collins