That’s what my doctor said to me over a decade ago when she delivered the diagnosis–premature ovarian failure. My ovaries had stopped working, so I needed to be concerned about my heart health and my bones. I felt like I had just crossed over from fresh Spring to dry brittle Winter without the decades of transition. A bone density test showed I already had enough bone mineral loss to officially have osteopenia. So I fought it the smart way (ha) — by totally ignoring it. Except by going a bit mad, living wildly, and balancing it all with good doses of yoga.
So when I got my bone density test results today, I really wasn’t surprised. Last year I broke a toe in a vinyasa class and even broke a rib coughing. Still, the word osteoporosis was like a knee to my gut. I actually said “Shit!” to my doctor. So maybe that’s why Visvamitrasana has been so scary. I have been carrying around this fear that I literally could break my bones.
My hip is just osteopenic, but my spine–my spine!–is more than two and a half deviations below normal, and just across the border into that scary territory where fractures are more common, bones compress and collapse, and you start to slump and lose height. I know this doesn’t have to happen to me. I practice yoga mindfully (especially after that toe fracture), and I know the yoga is helping. I can’t imagine my life without yoga. I started crying, and then told myself I was being a baby. No one is saying I can’t do yoga. Of course I will practice. I will practice mindfully, and I will meditate and visualize my spine healing. I’m taking diatomaceous earth and Ormus and drinking green juice and eliminating most alcohol and my body should be less acidic and it will rebuild. My bones are holy (with swiss cheese-like holes). What my bones lack in density, I will fill with light.
I feel ridiculous lamenting my spine when I think back on last week and the amazing people I taught. I subbed for an adaptive yoga class last Thursday at the Salt Lake City Library. I planned the class assuming everyone would start out in their wheelchairs. When I got there, all of the dozen or so people with spinal cord injuries were already out of their chairs and on their big cushy pads/mats.
I know so little about spinal cord injuries and paralysis and the issues these yogis face. I started to learn, though, fast. Almost everyone had someone to help them. Some brought their helpers, and I think some people were there volunteering. I heard one young man talking to his helper about someone putting a gun to his back. Depending on where the break or injury (or gunshot wound, in this case) happened, they had different degrees of mobility. I overheard snippets of conversations as I walked around and helped people deepen their poses. “L1.” “T12.” Some of them almost died in accidents. The memory of that night shook me out of my slump about a *potential* fracture.
It turns out that sitting on the pad without the support of their chairs was pretty challenging. Next time, I’d have them start laying on their backs, and work up to balancing in sitting poses. I gave their helpers cues to assist them, sitting behind them against their spines, lifting their arms overhead for extension, lifting their legs and holding them for an inversion. They were all so amazing. Willing to try anything.
By the end of the class, I was choking back tears. Humbled by the adaptive yogis and their openness and their happiness.