Yin Hurts So Good… And Here’s How It Can Be Life Changing – Keith Mitchell

So, not really knowing the official names of certain postures, I spent a lot of time on the floor. I’d begin to put myself in a forward fold, not a typical forward fold, I would stack up pillows and blocks so that I could just submerge in the posture for 5 to 10 minutes and this was the most amazing discovery. I began to realize how my hamstring had effects on my back, and how the stretch in my calves was creating space in my neck.

I would lay in a spinal twist for 10 minutes on each side. I would see how simply using gravity and my breath would allow my lumbar spine to open. I could feel the wounds deeply rooted from the constant pounding from falling on my back that, at this point, had occurred for way over half my life. At the age of 32 after playing football professionally 6 years in New Orleans, a year with the Texans and my final year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, 4 years at Texas A&M, and 5 years of Friday Night Lights in Texas, I could feel the suffering that I had created in my body; I could feel the mistrust that my body had with myself. Through this experience, I could see how I had issues of letting go, I could see how my body trusting myself had been compromised.

At this point, my body didn’t believe I had its best interests or the ability to care for it. I could finally begin the journey of seeing my wounds for what they were, without rational, without judgment, but to see myself from where I truly was so I could create ideas for where I wanted to be.  This was the most liberating experience. With each breath in spite of the tension; I begin to relate to it, empathize with it and over a short period the tension would dissipate. Some of the points would be so overwhelming that I would literally feel as if I would pass out. Many tears would show up at times, asking my body to forgive me for what I put it through. Sometimes I would literally relive the trauma, but I would continue the negotiation of peace with myself in order that the pain would no longer live inside of me not just physically but psychologically and emotionally.

I wanted to love, but I first had to discover love for myself. I discovered loving myself for the first times in a forward fold, spinal twist, groin stretch by letting go. This had been what I ultimately wanted.  To feel myself again. To relieve myself of the discomfort that I created in my life, for whatever reason, was all that mattered. Through this practice, I realized growing my human beingness had given me the potential of a natural rehabilitation and it felt so good. It doesn’t make you perfect by any means, but what it does is it allows you to give yourself a chance to experience this transformational space called Love that makes it so worth it at the end of the day.

The irony of the doing is that we are creating this life, and we can’t blame it on anyone but ourselves. When we begin to explore this doing, then we create new patterns of doings that align more with our transformative potential. It’s not to attain because we are trying to prove something, but simply because we have realized an excellence in ourselves that doesn’t need validation, but only an allowance to show up. The intelligence we are born with to be magical, to be empathetic, to be compassionate, to solve our problems, but knowing our problems are ultimately mankind’s problems, this is what I like to call purpose. And when we find purpose, we begin to put our staple on our existence. Namaste

Keith Mitchell is a former NFL All-Pro linebacker whose career came to an abrupt end with a tackle that left him paralyzed.

This life-altering event introduced Mitchell to his greater purpose.
While bed-ridden, Keith became a master of conscious breath and mindfulness. After regaining movement, he used yoga to rebuild his body. Thanks in part to overwhelming national media attention as well as the support of a few select influential individuals and organizations, Mitchell is making huge strides in changing the way we approach health and healing.

He is a co-creator of the Congressional Yoga Association. His partnership with the University of Rochester birthed a care plan that provides holistic practices for healing PTSD in veterans. His passion project, the Light It Up Foundation, brings together a national community to re-educate our approach to health, nutrition, physical and emotional well-being. More than 10k people participated in the organization’s most recent event in Los Angeles.

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