I’ve seen some really funny “Well… THAT happened” memes. There are many instances in my life when I could have or actually did utter that very same phrase.
It’s 1998 and I am still sicker than sick with Lyme Disease. It’s been four years of feeling like I have the flu every day, carrying around a head that feels like a pain-filled bowling ball. And don’t get me started on the brain fog (i.e. car keys in the freezer…). I have done Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Chinese Medicine, hyperbaric oxygen treatments, SO much more and especially food as medicine. I had to work my very full time job (which I did not love) doing my best despite feeling like an achy, tired space cadet.
So it’s no wonder I woke up one Sunday morning upset and fed up with the Universe. I had lived long enough to know that when things really suck there is usually a gift wrapped in the pain. Or at the very least, a message or a lesson to grow my soul. So I started praying out loud saying, “Please send me messages. Please send me messages. Please send me messages…” I was not going to stop until I got a message, a burning bush, something!
My two adorable cats named PacoBean and Cosmosis are milling around, meowing for breakfast. But I am intent, I will not be deterred. “Please send me messages. Please send me messages.” Cosmo is biting my hair, Paco just stepped on my belly. “Please send me messages!” I don’t know how much time passed but at some point I heard a big, booming male voice say, “NO NEW MESSAGES!” I sat bolt upright looking for God in my bedroom. Then I heard a meow so I turned around to find Cosmo — who had just stepped on my answering machine. There were like 12 buttons on that answering machine and Cosmo steps on that one?
After I stopped laughing hysterically and hugging my cats, I realized that I most definitely had received a message. No New Messages! Maybe I didn’t need to learn anything new about myself. Maybe I will be happiest AND healthiest when I just remember what I came in knowing. Thank you, Lymies. Thank you, Cosmosis. Thank you, Universe. I got the message…
My body has been my teacher in more ways than I can count. Most recently my greatest teacher has been this spine of mine. Suffice it to say, my spine ain’t what it used to be. Some vertebrae decided to take a hike and stray from optimal alignment. Some are smushed. Some decided to get arthritic, narrow the spinal canal and put pressure on my poor spinal cord. So all of THAT happened…
I was a competitive gymnast throughout high school and college so you guessed it! My pelvis got all too comfortable living in anterior tilt. I positively lived for gymnastics and spent at least 15 hours a week in the gym. Back in the day I had to tumble on a wrestling mat. I may have been in a hollow body position during my layout full twist, but I still I had to land on a 1 ½” thick mat. Now gymnasts compete on a spring floor not only to be able to tumble higher, but also to absorb the shock when they land after flipping and twisting from waaaay up high. I had no such spring and no such shock absorption so my body, especially my spine, had to deal with those landing forces.
But I stopped competing about four decades ago so I can’t blame it all on gymnastics. I kept walking around with a tilted pelvis long after I stopped sticking the landings. I carried this out-of-alignment-ness with me everywhere from marathons to yoga class.
Anything left untreated gets worse and unfortunately, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had the best of intentions to be fit and strong. I weight trained, ran, cycled, power walked and practiced yoga – all out of alignment. Intellectually I knew what neutral pelvis was. But mine loved to tilt forward and that felt “right.” Factor in hyper-mobility plus a whole lotta stress and it’s no wonder my back pain got worse and worse year after year.
I had an MRI about a year ago. When I received the very long and scary report, I went straight to freak-out mode. The more I read the more I wondered how I was even vertical. I went to a couple of well-intentioned but fear-inducing doctors who told me to expect a life of limited mobility and activity. Thank goodness I had been practicing and learning to teach LYT Yoga at this time! Both Lara Heimann and Kristin Williams talked me off of my temporary freak-out ledge. They reminded me that MRI’s do not tell the whole story and that anything is possible, especially and including healing my spine. How could I have forgotten?
So here are the blessings literally wrapped in the pain. LYT Yoga is ALL about optimal postural alignment. I should get a t-shirt that says “Triple S It Up!” because I Triple S It Up on and off the mat. I am in love with my transverse abdominis and I no longer have snoozy glutes, thank God! I feel so much better and practice yoga like a different Julie. LYT Yoga is a fun, functional and sustainable practice. I say, “Age-schmage!” I may have made 61 trips around the sun, but I feel more aligned, powerful and LYT up each day.
Most importantly, I am on a mission to teach the principles of LYT Yoga to every student I meet both on and off the mat. I love sequencing classes together called, “No Tipping Please!” and “Psoas to Move Well.” I even teach LYT Yoga in some of the Ophthalmology offices I call on for my day job. I hear the staff saying to one another, “Zip up that low belly and turn on your glutes!” and “You have text neck – find your Triple S!” I visit my 95 year old Dad and lovingly poke him in the butt to remind him to engage his glutes.
So this spine of mine led me to LYT Yoga. I honestly would not have it any other way. The Lymies (which may or may not still live in me) reminded me that food is medicine. Plant-based and loving it! All of the above and more make me so genuinely thankful for every movement, every heart beat, every breath… I got the message. All of this had to happen for me to live my mission.