Super-normal accomplishment is known in yogic texts as a siddhi – becoming very light or walking on water for example. Sometimes there seems to be an expectation of yoga teachers to have ‘super powers’ – to be invincible and beyond life’s vicissitudes – so that no pain, injury, exhaustion, sadness, fear or unkind treatment will come our way. Of course this is not the case, we’re mortal like everyone else and as Donna Farhi once said ‘We’re (all) on a sinking ship’. In other words every one of us becomes older and nearer to death each day. This is why we should try to treasure life even when it’s difficult.
On a drizzly morning last November, I was walking through the woods at Birk Crag, near Harrogate and slipped on some mud. I felt a sharp pain in my right leg, which unfortunately has remained constant, along with other unpleasant and painful tingling sensations, for the past six months. I’ve therefore had plenty of time to consider how something as trivial as slipping on a bit of mud, could have such a drastic effect.
I’ve looked back to last summer when I injured a foot dancing. I guess the subsequent limping began to create an imbalance in other parts of my body. Then I made some very long journeys by car that had traffic hold ups. (such as a three hour stop-start-stop traffic jam on the M42 caused by chicken legs on the carriage way) This meant my injured foot was continually on the clutch. I helped my Daughter move into a new flat – 300 miles away, which involved heavy lifting and serious cleaning in addition to all the driving.
Meanwhile my Sister was seriously ill as she endured treatment for breast cancer. I was working too hard, with challenges on all fronts and struggling to keep my head above water. Then several work problems arose all at once – nothing in itself particularly serious but I began to feel I couldn’t cope with everything all on my own any more. I guess I felt I had no support, so it’s interesting that the spine – essential for the support of the body – should have been the place where I got injured.
Some people expressed surprise that I got injured (see super normal powers mentioned above) I think they are missing the point of why we practise yoga. It isn’t to get a more and more flexible body or to do ever-fancier yoga poses; it is about learning to deal with life better and gaining a sense of true self. In this respect I think I’ve made some progress in my 40 years of practice. Since my injury, I’ve had my moments of despair in the middle of the night but on the whole I’ve managed to face the challenge of healing my currently ‘broken’ body with equanimity, creativity and patience.