I had the privilege of helping someone in yoga class last night. I was teaching Ashtanga for Beginners. The title is somewhat of a misnomer because if you only see “Beginners” and not “Ashtanga”, you’d think it was accessible to everyone. We workshop postures and show how to modify, but it really isn’t very easy.

We had just attempted headstands and most didn’t invert. Instead, many did a modified downward facing dog with hands and head in headstand position. The counter pose to all inversions except shoulder stand is child’s pose. One person had her hips up fairly high, so I had her adjust her knees and I applied light pressure to her hips. She popped up and made me aware of previous back surgeries. I thanked her for telling me and gingerly assisted her.

After class, I sat next to her and asked “tell me about your back?” And she did. And then I shared about my back and its history of pain. My pain was in the exact same location with sciatic nerve pain and the works. Hopefully, my empathy went a long way toward her seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I told her how I had trouble tying my shoes and when I could only drive with my left foot since my right leg was in such terrible sciatic pain. Sharing is good. And communicating with students that they aren’t alone. They don’t have to feel ostracized for what they see as deficiencies.

Today, I feel privileged for the numerous injuries and pains I’ve felt through my many decades of life. I still have many weaknesses and I fear drifting back into that pain that is always lurking in the shadows. I know that any weird and sudden twist can leave me bedridden for months. I keep this in mind when my students are struggling. I have the privilege of being there and can empathize with their pain. Decades of ultra-marathons, carrying 110 pound rucksacks in the Army, getting cranked daily as a wrestler, and a long life full of woes. It’s my privilege to share and understand.

We are all on a journey. There is no beginning or end. There is only now.

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