Happiness

Headstand “drains the stumps”

How would you do yoga without your legs?

As practitioners, we’re getting into fierce warrior positions, quite often trying to build heat, confidence, work up sweat. Usually teachers give instructions so that students feel empowered, develop a stronger stance and strong legs, facing forward – facing the world and its troubles that are awaiting us as soon as we leave the yoga room.

But some people have already been there, without ever having practised warrior pose. They went to war, for real. They’ve been taking risks, overcoming fear and facing challenges. Then they returned, wounded. Some US soldiers went to Afghanistan or Iraq and lost their legs. Or their eyesight. As part of their recovery, some of them have been starting to take yoga classes.

“Yoga’s been helping people for thousands of years. Now it’s helping me.” James Bernard

To help military personnel returning from the war, hospitals run by the military and the US Department of Veterans Affairs increasingly started offering yoga classes and meditation. Yoga helps to heal wounds, emotional and physical, even though not all postures might be available to everyone. But one of the postures even a veteran who has lost his legs can do is headstand – and some feel nothing is more beneficial:

“It takes a lot of pressure off my back and spine. It helps with the pain.” Chris Montera

These veterans are such a powerful reminder of the deepest truth a fit practitioner might sometimes push aside: Yoga is a way to work with the mind, through the body. Yoga means facing our fears, accepting our limitations and being happy with what is – or in spite of it. Here’s the arguably most inspiring paragraph of the article:

Marine Isaac Blunt, 22, is in the yoga class to prepare to climb Australia’s Mount Kosciuszko. He lost both legs above the knee and the sight in his left eye in Afghanistan. During the mountain climb, he will wear his “stubbies,” Blunt said, a term for an initial set of prosthetics provided to amputation patients. Like Montera, Blunt practices headstands in his classes. […] The wounded personnel have a more graphic term: “draining the stumps.”

Next time when I start getting worked up about my huge problems (like a wobbly headstand, or being unable to get into that twist) I will remember these veterans. They might have physical limitations. But they’re SUCH inspiring yogis.

And of course there is one posture all yogis end their practice with – Savasana!!

Have a wonderful, inspired day full of gratitude,

– Andrea

Photo credits and articles here and here.

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11 replies »

  1. Thank you for this really inspiring reminder that yoga really is for everyone. It reminded me of Matthew Sanford’s book… he was paralysed in a car accident when he was just 13 but went on to become a yoga teacher. It’s a wonderful book if you get the chance to read it.

    Like

  2. I love this! I practice a form of yoga which is accessible to everyone, even people in wheelchairs. I think a lot of people are intimidated by yoga, thinking that it is about getting fit and flexible. It so much more than that.

    “These veterans are such a powerful reminder of the deepest truth a fit practitioner might sometimes push aside: Yoga is a way to work with the mind, through the body. Yoga means facing our fears, accepting our limitations and being happy with what is – or in spite of it.”

    Perfectly said, thank you!

    Like

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