I’m not always the most graceful pedestrian. I’ve been known to walk into walls, trip over rocks, slam into counters, and I once ran full speed into a floor-to-ceiling mirror (I was playing tag and looking over my shoulder as I ran into what I thought was another large room). Yup, I’ve sustained a fair number of injuries over the years when I wasn’t paying attention. In these moments of crises my body didn’t know what to do and my brain tried to outthink my body.
This afternoon as I was walking with my dogs around the neighborhood, enjoying the sunshine and admiring my neighbors’ gardens, a sculpture caught my eye. It was a statue of Buddha positioned to face whomever was leaving the house. Entranced by the idea of a tangible reminder of how I want to act in the world every time I leave the house, I left my body to navigate on autopilot when —bam!— my gait was abruptly disrupted as my left foot hit a concrete lift in the sidewalk.
This precursor is one that at times in my life could have —and often has— resulted first in panic, then injury. Flash back to the 6th grade when I was springing up a few concrete steps and tripped; I put out my arms to break my fall, and in the process broke my left wrist. A few years later I caught the front edge of my snowboard and again tried to break my fall, this time shattering my right wrist. Today, though, I was holding my pups’ leashes and may not have had the wherewithal to let go and put out my arms at all, which brought to mind the time my mom tripped over a basketball on the blacktop while holding something and thus didn’t put her arms out, thereby smashing the left side of her face and knocking out two teeth. How quickly everything can change!
Fortunately, today was different. I have been practicing Kaiut Yoga regularly for over two years, including its principles of observation and calm, embodied response. Today I did not panic. The moment my foot struck the concrete, instead of barreling toward injury and pain, my brain was able to get out of my own way and allow my body’s innate intelligence to lift my left leg high enough to clear the obstacle. My ankle and hip worked together in a fluid, integrated movement and nothing tweaked or got wonky. I didn’t even lose my balance. My body noticed that instead of the pattern it was used to, there was something there —new information— and since my foot couldn’t move forward, it adapted without incident in a heathy, smooth way.
That’s Kaiut Yoga. This isn’t to say that I won’t trip tomorrow, but for today, I was present and available to what was occurring in the moment. What a gift.
Sara, Kaiut Yoga Teacher