Uma Spender (previously Jessie Neave) - name in transition - new website coming soon!
waiting for miracles
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein
Hi, sorry it’s been a while. I’ve been so deeply immersed in the creative process of making new courses, workshops & retreats (and WOW am I excited about what’s coming up!) I forgot to check in here! Thank you to those of you who wrote to remind me! Thank you also, to those of you who have written to ask how my hip/pelvis injury is going, I thought I should take a moment to tell you the full story of my miraculous recovery…
First, a bit of back ground for those who are new to my newsletter. Last year in September my hyper-flexible, over-extended ‘yoga body’ decided it had had enough.
My earlier years of Yoga were physically intense & extreme, I had Teachers that pushed me toward the “advanced” asanas, because they didn’t know better, and, because I loved the challenge. I soon realised this was not healthy, and my practice changed, then with each pregnancy and birth my practice evolved to meet my expanding needs…and I fell ever deeper in love with Yoga. Then one day last year, when I was doing nothing much in particular, the muscles holding my hip & pelvis together decided it was time for shavasana. Although it had been many years since I had been pushing myself and chasing the more“advanced” asanas I had set a pattern for my muscles that they had been following without my awareness. The specialist physio explained it to me like this “You’re a freak” (um, Thanks?), he continued; “When you push past a certain “healthy” range of stretching, your core muscles switch off to let you get past a certain point. The core muscles should be unconsciously “on” almost all the (waking) time, what happened here is that your core muscles are only “on” when you consciously turn them on. You’re a freak because your core is so strong you would never imagine that to be possible.” I had to tell him that the extreme physical approach to Yoga that has been adapted in the Western mainstream means that I’m very likely one of many ‘freaks’. Unfortunately, you may not know about it for 5 or 10 years, until something awful happens… like you dislocate a body part.
So, there I was in agony, and it wasn’t brief. I’d have excruciating (and expensive) adjustments, only to have to do it all again a day or 2 after. Learning to live with a “switched on” core was a full time job, for months, and I was almost always in severe pain - the head of my femur (thigh bone) was pinching my piriformis muscle and my sciatic nerve, causing all kinds of other pain. I couldn’t drive or practice any kind of physical yoga. I just kept thinking “there has to be another way to fix this.” I decided to stop doing the agonising adjustments and focus on learning to use my muscles properly. It wasn't as bad as it had been, I thought I could live with it like this for a little while. I knew that being constantly pushed together was not the way for me to heal, I had no idea what was, so I began to ask for a miracle. Seriously. Whenever people asked me what I was doing to get better I would answer “I’m waiting. I’m not sure yet”. This answer was not very satisfactory for the people who cared about me, understandably. They wanted to see me better and they wanted to see that I was trying. I get that!
I knew that seeing more specialists and healers was just going to create noise and clutter, and I knew that I needed space & silence. Sometime you have to allow things to be uncomfortable and inconvenient and hand over your will to the greater power, or divine grace, or God, or whatever you chose to name it, and just trust... and be patient.
On New Years Eve I decided I wanted to do a fire ceremony and ask for guidance. I wanted to be strong again, more than anything. I was completely focussed on it, obsessed even! I decided tobuy a portable garden fire pit, and on the way home my mantra was “please, show me another way”. I must have said that 1000 times in the previous weeks. As I turned the corner into my driveway I realised that there was a total fire ban (of course, it was like 40 degrees!), and my plans were ruined. I felt like an idiot, I was devastated. With tears in my eyes I opened the boot to get my fire pit out and at that moment I slipped on the gravel in my driveway and came crashing down. I sat there, completely still, for a long time time, holding the fire pit, letting searing pain shake through my body. I was thinking “this is it, I’ll never be able to walk again…I wonder how long I’ll have to sit here until someone finds me?”. As the minutes passed, the pain waves subsided and I realised I was actually ok. I tentatively wriggled my toes. I put the fire pit down. I was totally bruised from the fall but none of the familiar pain was there anymore. I super slowly made my way to standing, and….I was back! I could feel it, all back in place, perfectly. In that moment I didn’t expect that it would stay like that forever, but I was over the moon with my little miracle - to feel everything back in place was a true gift.
Fast forward 5 months to now, and nothing has changed - I am completely back to my old self - it turned out to be much more than a little miracle. Isn’t life amazing?
As a side note, during the period of pain & confusion I had thought that perhaps the purpose of this injury was that I needed to shed light on the effects of pushing your body too hard in Yoga, to write, to start a conversation - a podcast perhaps. The more I looked into it the more I realised it was already being talked about - I think that the way we practise Yoga in the West will shift for the better in the coming years, and already has in many respects. I decided that it was better for me to put my creative energy into offering positive, healthy and conscious Yoga, rather than add my voice to crumbling the darker side.
Since then I have met, and begun to work with some truly inspiring women, and so many plans for the future have erupted I can hardly keep up with myself!
After our incredible weekend retreat in Margaret River I’m expanding my work with the divine songstress and Teacher Lucy ‘Peach’ Farley, on Yoga that is in tune with Women’s Cycles and how all people (yep, guys & kids too!) benefit from learning the strengths of each part of the month, and, how we can adjust our behaviours to be empowered rather than afraid of “that time”. This is super practical and sustainably life changing stuffand it so exciting to be offering it. I’ll have some dates for our next workshops very soon.
I was also blessed to work with power-house Sexologist Vanessa Muradian on her enlightening ‘Pleasure Weekend’ a couple of months ago. She asked me to do some meditations for the workshop - it sounded fun, so I did it, without any expectations. Essentially, she’s all about empowering women by helping them to know themselves completely as sexual, sensual beings. This has always been a “missing link” in my work with helping people to know themselves (I tend to focus on emotional, energetic & spiritual realms) so together we just had so many ideas we couldn’t get them down fast enough! I am thrilled to announce that we are now offering the first ever ‘Pure Pleasure’ Women’s Retreat - a whole week of exploring Yoga through a new filter - one that is absolutely about empowering women on all levels. Check it out HERE.
I'm off to Bali next week for my Yoga & Mythology immersion - the Goddess Retreat, can't wait!
ps - There are a few places left for my Women's Hormone Balancing Restorative Yoga session this Friday evening CLICK HERE, and, 2 spaces on my 1 day Mini Retreat this Sunday in Main Ridge CLICK HERE
pps - I have been LOVING getting experimental & creative with the chakra course in Fitzroy, I will definitely have some more dates for the next one soon.