The other night, I sprained my ankle falling off a ladder. The pain was intensely shocking. Before I fell, my mind was racing. I was thinking about work, money, moving, and time that I did not have. I was caught in the future. As I lay on the ground, I breathed deeply and fought back tears, fear-laced thoughts flooded my mind. “How will I work? Did I break a bone? What am I going to do? I have clients tomorrow…maybe it will be okay and I can work through this. It hurts a lot. This is bad. I don’t have time for this.”

Eventually I asked myself “What do I actually need right now?”. Falling off a ladder made it extremely clear. An ice pack. Pain relief, and to calm my mind. The fall, and the response it required, brought me directly into the present moment.  Once I was able to find an ice pack, and use my breath to calm myself down, the shock began to wear off. My body tremored and shook. Tears flowed as waves of thought and emotion rolled through me.

When I woke up the next morning, my ankle was swollen and out of commission. I cancelled my clients. I could not push through it. I felt a visceral tension in my body while making this choice. Another wave of stress. I rely on my body to make a living. I took a heavy breath in and asked what I could do today. I could teach yoga.

When I arrived at Laughing River for my Friday morning class, I was greeted by one of our committed karma yogis, Demi. She saw me on crutches and set up a space for me so that I could sit down while I taught. Usually, I ask each student what they need. Today was different. Students noticed my crutches and asked me what I needed. I watched as the regulars began to help new students and each other set up our practice space. I realized everyone was stepping up to help each other, following the example I set each week. The visceral tension I felt began to unwind. My mind shifted toward acceptance, buoyed by the support of community.

I was struck by the kindness of the people in the space, people of all ages and walks of life were helping each other prepare for practice. Showing up to teach on crutches was a reminder that I do not need to be able-bodied, young, strong, flexible, or any specific body type to practice and teach yoga. The kindness of the class reminded me that it is okay to ask for and accept help when I need it.  Yoga provides the space to consciously slow down and tune in, to listen to the body.  Each time we connect with our breath and focus our mind, we are practicing yoga.  When we recognize both our capabilities and our limits we are practicing satya, truthfullness.  A community of people who support each other, that reminds me how we are all inter connected.

written by Gaby Goldberg