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A few years ago, around Easter to be exact, I started typing out my monthly yoga eNewsletter.  In my notes I started to include one-liners about people coming back to class, looking after yourself, you come first, and a few other comments…nothing major to write about, just the usual rant to get folks to stick to their practice.

Well, folks this is a classic example of…Do As I Say, Not As I Do!

I was hanging out over the weekend at home, trying to relax and giving my body the much needed rest it deserved.  But what I didn’t do was let go mentally. I was apparently more stressed than I thought.  So I woke up Easter Monday morning to find that half of my face was twisted to the left and unable to move.  I went to the hospital and there you have it – I have Bell’s PalsyWha?!!!  Well now I had something to write about…sheesh!

Yup, my motor skills on the right side of my face and partially on my left were not functioning.

What did that mean?
Well I couldn’t close my right eye; I spoke on the left side of my face and made mouth farts when I ate!  And I walked around like a pirate with a big black eye patch on my face to protect my eyeball from drying.

How long did that last?
According to the doctor, my mother’s Merck Manual and the internet, it could have been from 10 days to six months.  The good thing was there was no pain.  It just felt really awkward and a bit embarrassing to say the least.  Here I am – a yoga instructor, owner of a studio no less, and I get Bell’s Palsy. Who’s gonna believe what I preach now, right?  I already don’t have the physique of a Yoga Journal Yogini and this was yet another blow to my self-esteem and essentially my ego.

Would there be any damaging affects?
Well, nothing to my heart or anything.  But after a ton of steroids, I am now a little plumper and still trying to lose those pounds. I ended up having fibroid surgery (a Myomectomy) to remove about 22 giant fibroids, which probably grew at a pace due to all the steroids and I am one of the small percentage who didn’t recover fully from my bout with Bell’s Palsy and developed something called Synkinesis (the result of the miswiring of nerves after trauma). Let’s just say that I can’t eat and drive at the same time anymore as any movement of my mouth now makes my right eye close completely. I see folks looking at me when I eat too, but I pretend that I am eating something sour and squint the other eye to make it match – problem solved!  The good news is that we caught it in time. For many, the affected side drops really badly; mine didn’t. I also still have a ton of muscle strength (thank goodness for yoga!), so it could have been worse.

How did you get this, you ask?
Ya heard what I said?  I woke up and “dry so!”  Well there are many thoughts on this, but the one that stands out to me is stress-related tiredness and anyone can get this. Yup, it became clear that mama bear needed to learn to offload some duties and stop worrying about every single thing. I needed to practise what I preached and learn to “let go”, prioritise and recognise when I am tired and just say, “no”.

Folks, I took this as a lesson learned!  Sometimes we think we are invincible and our bodies are here to remind us that we aren’t. Every day I work towards trying to make the space, the experience and the family that is The Sangha Trinidad the most perfect ever (that’s my Virgo/Type A-ness coming out), and sometimes I forget to step back and just be amazed and happy with where things are (silly me!).  I forgot to sit back and smell the roses.

Why did I choose to write about this?
Well, it would seem that many of us are not taking the time to sit back and smell the roses.  Five out ten people coming to classes are coming because they are suffering with anxiety/panic attacks and their doctor told them they need to try yoga. Luckily, panic attacks do not visually affect you, and you can learn to control the attacks, but having your face disfigured? The first thing a person sees? This can be deep place to recover from.

So here’s to your and my continuing yoga practice and here’s to anyone’s yoga practice that is about to begin!  All we can do is try to be the best humans we can be and try to inspire those around us to do the same!  Anything more can just feel too overwhelming. And hey, ya don’t have to listen to me about relaxing and learning to say “no” ya know; take your chances, because everyone loves eating and winking at the same time…it’s like the best package deal ever!