Faith in the small
By Lynda Shadbolt
Published Nov. 26, 2019
The yogis have always said “there are causes and conditions for everything. Some people are born naturally flexible, some are born with tight hamstrings, some inherited certain body types from their grandparents and some have injuries that have caused short- or long-term limitations.” The yogis then go on to say that it doesn’t matter what the causes or conditions are, it’s how we work them that matter.
Everything is welcome in the yoga practice. Everybody is welcome. We work with whatever the conditions are. If you can breathe you can do yoga. I’ve said this over and over in my classes over the years. However, several times in my career I have learned that it is one thing to say something, it is another thing to practice it.
I was born naturally flexible. I have been active my whole life, and have been teaching and practising yoga for over 20 years. I easily could do every yoga posture that involved the shoulders, arms, neck and rib cage. I just did the poses and took them for granted. I have also practised qigong for the same amount of time and it is mostly gently upper body work. I feel like I did all the right things to maintain my upper body strength and flexibility. So when I developed frozen shoulder in my left shoulder three years ago I was surprised, a bit angry and frustrated.
I went to a physiotherapist who told me to keep moving it and doing what I am doing in my yoga and qigong. And of course gave me some specific exercises. Within a year it started to heal and I got my range of motion back. And then the second shoulder started to freeze. This time it was much more painful and the range of motion was even smaller. I couldn’t do a downward facing dog for probably eight months. I couldn’t internally rotate my shoulder at all. I had no strength.
I admit that I was discouraged and thought I might have to give up teaching. I couldn’t do any traditional yoga poses that involved my arms.
After a short time of self pity and discouragement, I started to do some research. The frozen shoulder became the teacher. I started to learn lots of new ways and variations of poses to start working on my shoulder mobility and power. My students followed me on the journey and we’ve played so many new variations of old poses. My teaching of yoga has totally evolved.
Early on in my healing journey I read a quote by Mother Teresa and she said “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” For more than two years I have stuck to that philosophy and worked with small variations of old poses. I am happy to say I am happily doing the downward facing dog again, and have gained almost full range of motion. In addition to a physiotherapist, I was also supported by my doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, osteopath and friends! It takes a community to heal! And we all must keep moving!