At the end of April, I went into New York for the Yoga Journal conference, and as I was walking back to my hotel, arms filled with swag from a PR meet and greet, and high off an awesome workshop with Kathryn Budig, I stepped off the curb on 5th Ave during rush hour and rolled my ankle. My foot was still on the curb and my ankle was on the road, if you need a good visual. I continued to try to cross the street but I couldn't put any weight on my foot and I had to hobble back to the curb. In tears, I sat down and tried to figure out what to do next. A lovely little woman saw the whole thing happen and helped me get a cab (she literally stood on the curb for a solid fifteen to twenty minutes waiting for a free cab). I was in such pain and I was panicking. Not only did this injury mean I couldn't finish out my weekend in New York, but I had three retreats lined up beginning in just over a week. Oh, and the retreats were in Europe and traveling on my own while injured? Yeah, it was safe to say I was sort of losing it.
The person I saw for my ankle was a former athletic trainer who had seen hundreds of ankle sprains and said it looked like a classic grade two sprain. She recommended lots of movement, weight bearing if I would stand it, ice to get the swelling down, and massage to get the fluid moving. My mom's a massage therapist, so she came by and used almond oil and arnica gel on my ankle, and I have to say - that arnica gel was pure magic. Every time I used it, I could honestly feel such a huge relief. I was doing everything I possibly could to get myself back on my feet, but I couldn't deny the anxiety that was creeping up.
The first few days were the worst. When the sprain happened, it was the worst pain I had felt in a very, very long time, and I feel like it caused me to mentally have a fear of putting weight on my foot. I wanted to do anything not to feel that shooting pain up my leg. The other problem was that there was swelling and bruising on the bottom of my foot as well, so when I did try to put weight on my foot, even if I was on a thick carpet, it was painful from the bruise as well.
I was really beside myself about the upcoming travel and the responsibility of having to lead yoga retreats while being not only injured and unable to walk, never mind actually practicing any yoga postures. At one point, I put out a request for a serious yoga student who might be interested in demo-ing while I assisted, but within three days, I was back on my feet and cruising around on crutches.
On the day of travel, I was feeling good. I had a business ticket, so I knew I'd be able to put my foot up and be comfortable for the duration of the flight. I was able to walk on my own so I thought everything would go smoothly.
The problem was, I didn't anticipate carrying my (very heavy) carry-on and purse, and within ten feet, I was nearly in tears. I could feel my ankle beginning to throb and once again, the wave of panic washed over my. People were spending a lot of money to come on this retreat. They were flying in from all over the world, and I couldn't even walk! How could I deliver an excellent week when I was mentally and physically in such bad place?
A confession: I was freaking out.
I took a second to gather myself, and then located the nearest staff member and asked them to radio me a wheelchair.
Best decision ever!
Not only did I get off my foot which was started to swell again, but I got to cut every line. Highly recommended, if you're injured. Don't be a hero, just take the dang wheelchair option.
Once on the plane, all was good. I took the ace bandage off and wore my compression socks. I did a little massage and a lot of movement just rolling the ankle around, and then I tried my best to sleep.
Once I landed in London, there was a wheelchair ready to pick me up, and they delivered me to the lounge where I got to take the best shower of my life (what is it about flying that makes us feel like a sweaty nasty mess?!) and eat some breakfast. From there, I had another wheelchair take me to the gate and we were off to Athens.
I was jet lagged, my ankle wasn't doing that great, but I was in pretty good spirits.
Once I got to our venue on the Greek island of Sifnos (after a taxi ride and a ferry), I settled in and just did the best I could. When I walked into class on the first full day of the retreat, it was the first time I had practiced yoga in two weeks. I was nervous because for some people, English wasn't their first language, so I was hesitant to lead the entire class without demonstrating.
No matter how many times I sit here and advise people to relax, get out of their own heads, breathe, at the end of the day, I'm only human and I struggle with the same insecurities as everyone else. I was worried about not being good enough, not living up to people's expectations, and not delivering the high quality instruction I knew I was capable of because I was too caught up in my own limitations from my injury.
Before class started, I took a minute to pull myself together. I said the mantra I nearly always say before each class I teach, "You have nothing to prove. No one to impress. And everything to share." And let go of the anxiety and the what if's running through my head.
Surprisingly, (or maybe not so surprisingly, as this always seems to happen when I stop obsessing) all my worries became non-issues, as there was only one pose I was unable to do (cobbler's pose). Everything else went totally fine. My ankle did swell a little here and there - especially after more rigorous practices - but overall, it was totally fine.
It's a beautiful thing when we can let our experiences happen naturally and organically without trying to control every single aspect. More often than not, things tend to work in our favor when we get out of our own way.