comeback / by Julie Anne Caramanico

This photo was taken a couple weeks pre-concussion. I was obsessed with going upside down at the time. It was Labor Day weekend at the beach, and I remember taking every opportunity I could to get to the wall and practice going upside down. I wanted to nail handstand so bad. A few weeks later, the concussion happened, & I discovered I could hardly do simple inversions (like down dog) let alone something like this. It took about a month for reality to set in - I wasn't going to have a normal practice for quite a while. After having a wrist injury that had just healed, I was beyond frustrated by the setback. My teacher was my saving grace. I messaged her while she was studying in India. I was looking for guidance because I was so distraught with where my practice was or wasn't going. She told me not to look on it as a setback, but as an opportunity. She advised me to explore the subtle realm of the practice - breath and bandhas - and told me that when I came back I'd be stronger than ever. I took her words to heart, and spent the next 7 months doing what I could on my mat. Some days my practice was literally just sitting and breathing. Most days I could get through (or halfway through) standing poses, but then I'd have to stop. It was frustrating and humbling to say the least. Taking child's pose for every down dog completely shattered my ego and brought me back to when I first started practicing, before teaching was even on my radar. It felt like I was starting over. Day by day, I began to realize that I was re-learning, refining and improving upon the "simple" postures I thought I already knew. I could feel my bandhas beginning to wake up, and an internal strength was forming that had always eluded me before. I often referenced my teacher's words on the particularly challenging days. She was so right, because of my "setback" I was getting stronger from the inside out. It's funny how life does that, huh? This injury was certainly not what I wanted, but it taught me what I needed. Internal strength. Breath. Focus. A humbled spirit. I'm still not quite ready to be upside down, but I feel 10x more grounded and strong than I was in this photo. I feel like I'm in the part of a movie where there's a comeback montage, kinda like Rocky - ha! I'm getting there. I know when headstands/handstands are back in my practice I'll be flying from a much stronger place than I was before. As they say "in every difficulty lies opportunity" ... I know that now more than ever.