The amazing and adaptable human system

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

I’ve known, in an intellectual way, that we humans are amazingly adaptable, but I can’t recall any moments when I’ve been especially amazed by my own adaptability. Maybe when we’re living with the gradual day-to-day adaptations that are so very inherent to our human nature, it goes unnoticed. Something new pops up in the weekly schedule, you may have a little resistance initially, but after a while it starts to feel normal. You take a new route to work and at first it requires a lot of attention, but then you adjust and it’s no big deal. Or you have a pain in your shoulder, so you adjust to avoid the pain. We adapt all the time and it happens in such a subtle, gradual, and often unconscious way, it’s easy to take this for granted.

This foot injury of mine has put the whole process of adapting to something new very much into my awareness sphere. I had that appointment in which the Doc said I was healing well and could walk in the boot. I just might have let myself think that walking in the boot would be great but when it turned out to be miserable, I was very upset. For two days, my foot hurt when I stepped on it, I walked like Frankenstein, unable to bend my ankle, and I moved so slowly that I was late to everything. Every move I made, I could feel the wonk in my pelvis and SI-joint which I’m convinced made me unusually weepy, and I couldn’t help but think about my sweaty, uncomfortable foot all of the time. I was really upset about having a whole of this unpleasantness. The attitude wasn’t the best. Morale was definitely low…

One of the things that helped me get over feeling sorry for myself was taking time to notice my body and mind adapt to this boot-situation. I noticed my pace and agility steadily improving. (I was super loud and clunky the first time I taught class, now, I’m like a delicate butterfly as I practically float around the floor.) I could watch my attitude about the boot shifted from hating it to not hating it so much to merely disliking it. Now, I put it on in the morning and don’t even think about it that much. But I’ll tell you the most amazing thing of al of this adjusting that happened and really changed my attitude: Over the course of one day, that third day in the boot, I watched my body work out the imbalance in my legs and pelvis. I’m sure it was happening from the beginning, but on this day I went from having an SI-joint that was super out of whack with pre-sciatica aches and weepy emotional outbursts to having a more stable version of both my pelvis and tear ducts. It was nothing I did consciously, but my body, almost hour-by-hour, figured it out and took care of it. It was like something on the inside knew what to do and stepped up and then no more sciatica stuff. Just like that.

This gives me incredible hope for my life and for humanity.

Watching my body adapt efficiently and quickly leaves me feeling so hopeful. We humans may not seek change but it happens anyway and it’s possible for that change to happen fairly quickly. Adaptation is inherent to our existence and our survival. The change and the adaptability of our body structures and our unconscious are astounding. Bring consciousness into the equation and wow. When we actively participate in our existence, life becomes even more amazing.

This stuff I’m talking about here is what yoga is all about. That hopeful feeling I got watching my pelvis go from wonky to stable is the same way I feel when I think about all that has happened with my yoga practice… and don’t think I’ve reached some pinnacle of yogini-ness. I’m at the beginning of this yoga path but even so, in just a few years of having a dedicated personal practice and a teacher, I’ve seen significant change happen in my life  that I never would have believed if I hadn’t experienced it myself. And, better yet, I have a deep feeling of assurance that it will continue and get even more interesting and amazing. I just know it. Not only do I get to see all of this in my life, but as a yoga therapist I get to see wonderful, hopeful adaptations happening in the lives of my students. This is so great that just thinking about it, I get even more excited and hopeful and convinced that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing with my time and my energy. Wow. Life is so great.

I wouldn’t wish the broken foot on anyone, but I have to say, some pretty good moments and reflections have come from the experience– Appreciation for my body’s ability to heal and adapt… renewed hope for humanity. It’s already been worthwhile, and I still have 2 weeks to go.

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Logo Circle OnlyMy teacher, Chase Bossart, will start a 300-hour teacher training program this January through his organization called the Yoga Well Institute.  This training offers an incredibly thorough curriculum, taught by outstanding faculty along side personal one-to-one mentorship and is Yoga Alliance Certified.  It will train you to create function-based yoga practices and lay the foundation for the applying yoga therapeutically.  If you are looking to deepen your understanding of yoga or become a yoga teacher or therapist, I whole-heartedly and without reservations, recommend this program.

Need an in? I’d be happy to put you in touch with Chase and make the introduction, or click here find out more.

Teacher Training 2

Unknown-2Feeling hopeful? Voting day is November 4th.  Cast your ballot.  It’s so important!!!!

And finally,

as you let that all sink in…This seems to be a season of soft things.  Here are some photos of beautiful soft things I saw growing around Austin this week.  aaaahh.  I love nature.

Soft things in Nature
Soft things in Nature

photo 3photo 2photo 1photo 2photo 3

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5 thoughts on “The amazing and adaptable human system

  1. You had change forced upon you and your body began adapting on its own – to your benefit. And of course when the new adaptive patterns are no longer needed you will deliberately rebalance the pelvis, SI, etc. Many people wouldn’t be watching that closely, and so the no-longer-needed adaptation might persist. And, Amanda, this is a really good lesson in how we resist change. Or, more specifically, how we resist adapting to change. Or, simply, we act as though the things we like won’t change. So, of course, when we try to change through our practice it gets really tough, because inevitably we will have to deal with changing some things we like. All this because you tripped over a curb. A yogini just finds teachings everywhere she looks! And… you didn’t even mention all the walk-like-a-zombie practice you got for Halloween! What a blessing this has been!

    1. Frankenstein for Halloween!!!! I didn’t even think of it. 🙂
      I’ve discovered, when we put the anchor of our happiness into the stuff that will inevitably change, then we aren’t only suffering from the change but from the difficulty of expectations NOT lining up with reality. All that, and we have to find a new place to anchor…

  2. Nice, Amanda. One of my Yoga for Pain students came to class for weeks with a broken foot and everyone in the group learnt so much from her turning up.

    I’ve been reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. While it’s a sobering read about life in a concentration camp, his observations about human potential in times of crisis are inspiring, just as you’ve said your experience gives you hope for life and for humanity.

    All those things we think we know about what we need to survive and even flourish – a certain amount of sleep, or food – not true, he says! In times of suffering, he observed, for those who choose to accept life as it is, there’s enormous potential to be.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Rachael. I’ve been thinking about it all week– how I used to really think I couldn’t function if I got too hungry (I always had almond snacks in my car), or if I didn’t get enough sleep, or if I was in pain. And though none of these things are ideal, it just isn’t true that they are essential to participate in life. Point is, I agree with mr. Frankl, and it’s through experience that I’ve come to know this.

      I wanted to tell you, I checked out your website and your offerings (Yoga for Pain, Wow!) are inspiring. Way to go. wonderful.

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