Wednesday, 16 April 2014

My Peaceful Warrior

I have been practicing yoga for a couple of years now, that is, until April 16th, 2013, the day my mom was diagnosed with ALS. ALS is a motor neuron disease that first attacks the voluntary muscles in the body. The disease makes its way through the body affecting balance, mobility, swallowing, speech and breath and so much more. It’s a terminal illness with no miracle treatment or cure.

As I would come to the mat to practice yoga, my mom was rapidly losing her ability to stand, to lift her arms, bring her hands to heart, to breathe deeply. With every single movement of my yoga practice, I couldn’t help but think of my mom. Then a wave of guilt would flood over me. I could do all of these things that my mom couldn’t. How could I enjoy my practice while my mom was dying? Every time I would bring myself to my mat, so many emotions would start to flow through my body, making it very difficult for me to practice. I just couldn’t bring myself to happy, I couldn’t imagine my life without my mom; my teacher, my mentor, my role model, my MOM!

With the world turned upside down and huge doubt in my mind, I trudged forward and started my teacher training. I longed to feel the excitement of this new beginning, yet my thoughts kept drifting to my mom, to the disease and how this would play out. The workshops started and I went. Needless to say, I put my personal practice on “pause” and really didn’t know if I would ever be able to or want to press “play” again. I didn’t have it in me to practice yoga as my time and energy was given to my mom, holding her hand, praying with her, singing to her and sharing tears with her. As well, supporting my dad, while he helplessly watched his wife, his soul mate and love of his life, slip away, struggling to accept that he couldn’t fix this.

On one of the last days of my mom’s life, I was sitting with her and a few of my sisters in her hospital room when something came over me, this need to do yoga. It felt foreign as I hadn’t felt the urge to do yoga for a long time. So I stood up, and prepared to do a sun salutation. As I moved through the postures, my mom watched me. While still watching me, I showed her Peaceful Warrior and explained how this was and still is one of my favourite yoga postures because it gives me a feeling of strength, beauty and peace. (I think that if one of the nurses had walked into the room at the time, they would have thought I had gone bonkers!)

Then “IT” happened. On November 16, 2013, my mom took her last breath. No more suffering. She was finally at peace. Even with all of the tears and anguish, I am thankful that I was able to walk beside my mom along her journey. I really didn’t think I could do it or had it in me to let my mom go, to witness this part of her life…death. Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done and there isn’t a day that goes by that I am not thinking of my mom and tears fill my eyes. Yet here I am, living, breathing and continuing on. I am moving forward in my journey…struggling to find my passion for yoga again.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, while I was preparing for a Philosophy class at the Yoga Centre, this crazy thought came over me that maybe I could take in a yoga class before the meeting. As the day progressed, I started to doubt myself. Thinking that maybe I shouldn’t do the class, and instead just go to the meeting. Could I do yoga anymore? Could I do a class without feeling guilty, without tears, prepared to let my guard down? Could I do this without my mom? I was afraid and scared of what I might feel. I was torn. I had this voice in my head whispering, “Go to the class, it will help you, trust in yourself, have faith.” And another voice, shouting, “Just gives up! You can’t do this!” I decided to take a leap of faith and go.

When I got in my vehicle, something caught my attention. I found myself mesmerized by the brilliant shades of pink on the horizon. One of my mom’s favourite colors was pink. Call me crazy but I believe she was giving me a sign, reassuring me that I would be ok and that she would be there to hold my hand, to give me strength, beauty and peace…she would be My Peaceful Warrior.

Thank you, Mom
You will always be forever and ever in my heart
Belinda Friesen

This blog is part of a series of writings by the yoga centre winnipeg 200hr teacher training students. Belinda is currently enrolled in the YCW 200hr TT

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Yoga : a life's journey

In practicing yoga I have experienced a change in both my mental/spiritual and physical states.

Mentally I find that I’ve developed an inner peace, a general feeling of well-being and an acceptance of myself and those around me. This inner peace helps me in dealing with stressful life situations, making me pause and take the time to assess a challenging situation instead of reacting quickly or over reacting without thinking.

I suffered a serious injury, broke my fibula, dislocated and tore all the ligaments in that ankle seven years ago. Leaving me with a steel plate and six screws in that ankle. Had it not been for my yoga practice and yoga breath, and knowing that every day was a day closer to better health, I would have had a more difficult time mentally and physically accepting this injury and regaining my physical and spiritual health.

During this time, I was able to continue my yoga practice by adapting poses and doing chair yoga. I believe it was important for me to accept my limitations and somewhat humbled by these limitations to begin yoga again, as a true beginner. This brought a true appreciation of how disabilities can limit you but should not defeat you.

Yoga is part of my life and as I age, I hope to improve my physical flexibility, mobility and grow spiritually throughout my yoga journey.

This blog is part of the continuing series of blogs written by students in the Yoga Centre Winnipeg 200hr Teacher Training Program