By Stephanie Stillman
I was 13 years old. Snow on the ground, stillness in the air, an average January evening. My mom and I were watching television. During a commercial break I went to play on a pull-up bar that was suspended between the doorframe. Like I had done many times before, I ran and jumped to the bar. But on this particular evening, the bar collapsed from its support. I remember opening my eyes, lying on the floor still clutching the bar. Something wasn’t right. The hospital visit revealed that I had a fractured vertebra in my neck. I was placed in a halo apparatus that I wore permanently for three months.
It was during those three months that I began to realize that I was much more than my physical body. I felt like me on the inside, but I was treated differently because of how I looked. My journals became less and less focused on the dramas of a teenage social life and more a contemplation of who I was beyond my appearance. It became very clear to me that I was much more than my reflection. Something within my being was awakened, but it wasn’t until I came to Yoga 10 years later that I was given the tools to explore the power in that realization.
Coming to Yoga actually felt like a return to home. In Yoga I am recognized physically, energetically, emotionally and mentally. My connection to nature and the divine is innate, just as it is for each one of us. All of these bodies (physical, energetic, emotional, mental) are referred to as the koshas. They are a roadmap to navigate our experiences and a tool we can use to shift our awareness, which then shifts our experience. When we are completely present and there is no separation between our inner and outer world and the divine, we experience anandamaya kosha, the bliss body. Movement, breath, emotion and intuition all become one. It may be for just a split second, but it’s enough to remind me, oh yes I am much more than my physical body.
I took an abrupt fall into my journey toward self-realization. My physical body healed beautifully and I was given the greatest gift of my life – a new lens to view life.