What is freedom?

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In 1999 I took my first steps to becoming a bodyworker. A car accident left me with a bad whiplash and subsequent body issues that loomed like a gnawing gremlin for years. After announcing to a new client that I was mostly pain free after my ordeal she asked how long I was in pain. I announced, “ten years or so.” Her jaw grew slack at the announcement I’d dealt with pain for ten years but I kept working with a smile.

Pain, once it’s gone is forgotten. Much like a mother giving birth there is a memory but women do not stop having babies due to it. It becomes something you remember but no longer holds your emotions or life, it’s been processed. Recognizing where I’ve come from it’s been an extremely long journey. Just let it be known that I was miserable, depressed and couldn’t get help through the standard channels.

I’d always been somewhat against the grain but my injuries made me quit, drop out and move on. Receiving no help I had two options. I could become a junkie and medicate the pain away or I could get better. I chose the latter.

I’m still working on my pain but it’s marginal compared to where I started from. I was recently working on downward facing dog pose and using a small block to open my cervical spine. No one has taught me this but I’d seen a photo of BKS Iyengar doing it and as soon as I tried I had the usual response I have to his yoga, “that crazy old man knows! Wow, I can’t believe it’s that simple.” As I open up this portion of my spine realize that now this has been closed for 13 years. A 13 year old wound is being healed, something no bodyworker, no one but myself has been able to access. I grow in my admiration for Iyengar with every yoga practice. He’s considered a master for a reason.

Iyengar doing a demonstration.

Watching this video I continue to be in awe. The physical limitations we have are encultured and not encoded by genetics. Is it nature or nurture? At issue is we’re not really sure where the edge is when it comes to nature. Nurture in turn has hardly been explored, let’s continue working another hundred years until strong AI and the nanobots take hold but for now, there is yoga.

I continue to be amazed at what can be tapped into. I feel good. I’m energetic. A client asked me recently if I ever take a day off. I honored the mirror placed before me and have no desire to burn out but explained that my yoga practice has helped me have a level of health that allows me to keep going. I nap like a cat and sleep is my superpower my wife jokes. When you work for yourself, love what you do, run your own business and are trying to heal not just yourself but those around you, what else can you do but work ceaselessly?

Freedom, true freedom can only be known when it is experienced. Our path is using our body to release physical restrictions, remove pain, maintain health and feel spacious, open yet grounded. Once you’ve channeled your focus, tamed your mind, slowed your breath and begin mastering your body, you’ve only just begun. Freedom of movement, lack of pain and health of the human form is enough of a start.

Iyengar knows what this is about, far more than I do. He’s devoted most of his life to the practice of yoga. May his light continue to shine and dispel the darkness.

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