Picture yourself in a yoga studio, –it’s warm in there and the teacher just told you how good your headstand is, and you feel overwhelmed with joy. You come down, your feet touch the ground, and upon your face there’s a big smile.
Then try to imagine a moment when speed of action is everything. You’re lying on the floor, trying to speak, but nothing comes out of your mouth, you’re scared as hell, the right side of your body won’t move. Your boyfriend just doesn’t know what to do, and so 4 hours pass until your mom finds you. You just had a stroke.
That was me two years ago.
The Doctors’ Version of Me
Yes, I had a stroke, hemispherical left, which means it affected my right side and speech, when I was only 23. Not the youngest girl to have a stroke, but not old enough either. The doctors told me I would never gain back my arm and leg, that my best would be sitting on the wheelchair, not to mention moving my hand and foot.
They never found the certain origin of my stroke, but it was really bad. It forced me on a wheelchair for 6 months, tons of intensive rehabilitation, speech therapy, lokomat too (a robot to teach me how to walk again), they tried everything on me. I always felt like a toy when I was lying on those cots!
But I didn’t want to listen to the doctors. I refused their version of me, and I began to build a new me, with physiotherapists. They squeezed me, turned me, twisted me and they had me do lots of abdominal workouts, and tell me, how many of you love doing abs?
And finally when I gained back my last muscle, on March 2013, yoga began to call for me.
Getting Back On The Mat
I could hear my body craving for it “C’mon! Do it, you’re ready! Please don’t make me wait any longer! Sit down on the ground, feel the energy raising from it to you! Feel your soul, it’s still here, honey, it’s tiny and scared but it’s here!”
I’d always been a sporty type of girl, running every day 8kms, doing yoga 2 times a week, cycling and shopping (it’s a very extreme sport, I’m warning you: don’t do it alone), so this stroke hit me like a piano down from the sky! I started slowly; some gentle twists, some folds, until everyone around the rehab center began to call me “yoga-girl.”
My right arm and leg were much smaller than the left ones. I couldn’t even do a proper Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog), not to mention my beloved Sirsasana (headstand)! Little by little, very little, the strength and balance would come again, my practice evolving with me, my breathing became more steady, not labored anymore, my flexibility came back saying “hey, it’s me honey, sorry if I left you for a while. Let’s start over again!” like a lover who comes back to you after he’s left you for no reason!
I remember now the first Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One Legged Pigeon), I was maybe ten inches from the floor, unbalanced, out of grace, but a beautiful smile bloomed on my face! I was so happy, I felt blessed!
Yoga Was And Is A Blessing To Me
Now I’m a “Miss Nobody” who is trying to find her way into Architecture (my current study), loves yoga deeply, and plans on taking the teacher’s course. But I’m happy. I love this crazy, little but big, world — I love all the manifestations of the divine, including spiders and mosquitoes, I love my friends and I love you.
Yes I love you! This stroke taught me one important lesson: being is the one true blessing. All the rest may come and go, but BEING there, at the top of your mat, on the grass, in a robot that makes you feel like Terminator, in a pool..This is what should make us sparkle with love — being alive.
by Eleanora Rini – I’m a student of Architecture, a lover of life, a venturer of dreams, and a yogini on a daily practice. I had a stroke when I was 23 years old, it turned my life upside down, and now I’m trying to find balance again through yoga.
Know more about Nora and connect with her through Facebook.
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