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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Sep 22, 2008

My Knee & the Good Grace of Yoga.

Ring the bell that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There's a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
~~~Leonard Cohen song lyrics

I have had a 7 month odyssey with "My Knee". If there's one body part that can bring me to my knees, its my knees.

Last February when I was teaching, I stepped my left foot wide to demonstrate a pose. My foot landed on a blanket. I slid and sprained my knee. I have had a lot of sprains so I just waited for it to get better. It didn't. It got worse over the months. That minor sprain last February set off a chain reaction that had me wondering if I would be able to walk much at all before long. I really have had some serious and strong contemplations these last few months!

By June I was not practicing Yoga or taking walks or doing much of anything physical outside of teaching. Really, I had let the situation scare me and convince me that my Yoga and general physicality throughout my life were the cause of my problem.

I finally went in for an MRI and found out that I don't have an ACL and I haven't had one for a LONG time ( about 25 years). This was pivotal for me (pun intended - pivoting is one thing to avoid if you are ACL-free). i went from feeling like a problem to be solved to feeling like a sort of miracle. I mean, after all, I had been enjoying physical activity for all those years without realizing I shouldn't be!

One other aspect of feeling like a miracle was that I got to see and feel my synovial fluid. Hang on - I know that sounds weird but let me explain. Synovial fluid is the protective and lubricating fluid that is inside the joints. At my post-MRI appointment, I had quite a bit swelling (synovial fluid) at the back of my knee. Dr. Kody offered to drain it. (Dr. Kody is the really excellent orthopedic surgeon who ordered the MRI and X-Rays). Being the awesome doctor that he is, he asked me if I'd like to see it and, better yet, feel it. I did. It was pure gold in color and it was the absolutely silkiest thing I have ever felt in my whole life. Pure liquid gold. And my body produces that to protect me! I still can't quite believe the miracle of it!

[Side Note: Yoga postures (asana) practiced with good alignment and optimal breathing (ujjayi breath) enhance the production and circulation of synovial fluid.]

Now I am in the process of getting back to my familiar level of activity. I am amazed, in retrospect, by how much things deteriorated when I STOPPED being active and when I stopped showing up for my Yoga practice. I really know more than ever that it's best to "ring the bell that still can ring" if you want the light to keep coming in!

I am realistic. I don't intend for myself a radical level of activity or practice. And I do know that there is a slow steady slowing down in store for me and everybody else who is lucky enough to live long. But honestly, good moderate movement, with awareness of alignment, is such a blessing and a source of health. I feel so much more compassion now for people who really just can't move due to injury, etc.

Today I went in for my final appointment with Dr Kody. He told me again that he is amazed and truly baffled by how well I've gotten by all these years with such an unstable knee. And he believes me when I tell him that I think it is primarily thanks to the good Grace of Yoga.

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