by Julie Lievre | November 3, 2019 10:06 pm
I have been an athlete my whole life and had been practicing yoga on Long Island for eight years. I have two children, now 19 and 24, and yoga really helped to bring my figure back. My husband certainly appreciated how yoga made me look and feel.
At forty-six, feeling stronger than ever, I fell out of a headstand and broke the mirror in my Vinyasa yoga class. I was in my usual class, which I have been taking for at least four years, and practicing three or four times per week. I was in the front row where all the “experienced” yogis practiced, in a headstand when I lost my balance and fell out of the pose into the mirror. The whole thing shattered, and glass rained down on me and my mat. I immediately sat up, covered in glass and saw 25 pairs of eyes on me. I was helped out of the room by one of the owners. I cleaned myself off, and thankfully had no cuts. Though I wanted to run crying from the studio, I forced myself to go back in and finish the class.
I wanted to believe that these people, many of whom I had been practicing with for years, would comfort and support me. I approached the owner who helped me from the room after class ended. She was always very pleasant. She was tall, slender, and always had a smile and a kind word upon entering the studio. I asked her after class, “Could I pay for the damage?” She smiled and said, “It is not necessary, we have insurance for that. The only thing that matters is that you aren’t hurt.” I thanked her for her kindness and apologized. The other owner, who attended the class, gave me the cold shoulder. She was known to be a bit unfriendly and taciturn, but I tried many times to chat and make small talk since I enjoyed practicing in her studio. This incident was not going to show a softer side to her, and I began to feel like I didn’t belong there.
I continued to attend classes regularly which were now preceded by announcements that no inversions should be done near the mirror, or in the first row at all. I sure wished that was a rule in class before my incident. Every time an instructor said this, a few people would look my way. I kept going even when I wanted to crawl underneath my mat instead of practicing.
Many of my fellow yogis did support me and asked if I was okay for weeks after the incident, others stopped speaking to me as if I might spread some bad karma to them. Long after the glass was cleaned up there were people who still avoided me.
Yoga teaches us to breathe through the difficult moments. I heard this in my classes over the years, read it in yoga books, and was trying to be mindful in my daily life but I had no idea that I was practicing what I learned until this moment. I breathed through the humiliation and fought the urge to run away from the pain I was feeling. I was better for having gone through it. I learned that I was a stronger yogi than I thought, I wasn’t just going through the motions but practicing true yoga.
I have had difficult moments since, including a move to Astoria, Queens, my son going off to college, and a breast cancer scare this year at age 50. Now, I face them with the knowledge that I can get through it. I now practice at two different studios in Astoria and have found some wonderful friends and yoga instructors. The atmosphere is very different, and the people more diverse, and friendly.
I no longer practice in the front row, as this experience has humbled me, and made me grateful to practice further away from the mirror. I don’t even use the mirror in the room as much as I used to and feel my practice has improved since moving back. I can now focus more on how my body feels rather than how it looks.
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