The Paraplegic Yogi – Yes, Yoga Is For EVERYONE!
I was doing yoga every day and the power I felt within was indescribable. I had never been very flexible, but each day I was improving. You never forget that first moment your heels touch the ground in Downward Dog!
More importantly, I was learning to strive, not to be better, but to be the best I could be in the moment. I had no idea how invaluable this lesson would be.
The Day My Life Changed Forever
On February 27, 2014, I had a snowboarding accident and a burst fracture of my L1 back bone caused an ‘incomplete’ spinal cord injury at T12 level. This means that I am a paraplegic, but that there is potential for me to possibly regain some feeling or movement in the future.
I spent two weeks heavily medicated in a French hospital mainly sleeping and in bed, exhausted and in pain, but it was only really when I returned to England that reality hit.
I had been in bed for so long I could barely lift my legs or bend my knees, and I couldn’t twist from the waist at all. When I was being stretched in physiotherapy for the first time, I thought, “Oh my god, all of the time I spent doing yoga was a waste.”
Finding Help From Yoga
I couldn’t believe that this was my life. It’s very difficult not knowing whether you will walk again. It has been an emotional time, and the tears do still arrive plenty and often. It’s tough, but recently I have found peace in the quiet time I spend getting to know my body again.
I’m still in rehab, but I spend at least an hour every day dedicated to yoga.
Because of yoga, I am able to move my body in a way I didn’t think I ever would again, strengthening my spine, arms, and legs. I have limited sensation in the back side of my waist down, and no movement below my knees.
But I can do seated poses and I try standing poses in the hydra pool. Yoga has helped me to accept my body along with its limitations.
The time I’d spent practicing yoga before my accident wasn’t a waste of time; it just meant that I had already learned yoga’s most valuable lessons—to feel alive, to have no ego, to stop comparing yourself to others, to let go of the past and drop worries for the future, and to simply be in the moment.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that yoga is for everyone. I will encourage everyone to at least try it, young or old, abled or disabled. A lovely lady and fellow patient at the hospital I am in says that, “at soul level, we are all the same. We are all good people.” And you know what? She is right.
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