Today tonight interviewed me to capture just how important it is to have moderation. In the broadcast they unfortunately missed the most important part....Yoga healed me. Read on to know the whole story and how yoga was a big part of the recovery process.
7 years ago I thought I was as healthy as ever. I was exercising daily, eating unprocessed foods and drinking 4 litres of water a day. I was told that this amount of water was too much but I figured I didn't drink any tea, coffee or juice so it seemed reasonable. My naturopath suggested if I stopped adding salt to my food I wouldn't be so thirsty and my water intake with subside.
I took on this advice and cut out salt from my diet – no soya sauce, Vegemite, sea salt etc. Two weeks later I felt dehydrated and sick. My head was thumping. I started vomiting. So much fluid was coming out of my body, I drank more water.
That night I went to bed praying for the pain to leave. My head hurt badly, the agony was excruciating.
Little did I know, I had depleted my body of sodium. During the night I fell unconscious.
I didn't show up for work the next morning, my colleges knew something wasn't right so they called my mum. My mum rushed home to find me blue and surrounded by feces, urine and vomit. I wasn't breathing. She called the ambulance in a fluster, desperate to keep me alive. The ambulance arrived and rushed me to the hospital. On the way, the ambulance stopped to revive me, I had died.
At the hospital I was induced into a coma. The lack of oxygen to my brain caused a hypoxic brain injury. After awakening from the coma life as I had known, had completely changed. I was a dribbling vacant being. Doctors were indecisive as to how, if ever, my brain would heal.
I had to relearn everything. From blinking to talking. This was so difficult. I knew what I wanted to do, but was unable to do it. Frustration, despair, distress. I had no idea what was happening. My mum patiently and lovingly sat by my hospital bed trying to explain the events. She believed in me. She had so much hope and faith in my recovery, she did what ever it took to assist my brain's repair.
Recovery felt unattainable. Even though the ability to talk and eat came back naturally, my short term memory was severely impacted. So much so, I needed to write most things on paper. My brain just couldn't absorb information. 5 minutes after eating my lunch I had no recollection of eating. If I was watching a television show, in the ad break, I couldn't remember what I was watching. The pain of not understanding how my brain was affected or how I could heal it was tormenting. I cried and cried and cried. Some days I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to face the world. I was scared. I was so scared because my brain, my memory, my thought processes could no longer be trusted. The way I functioned in the past was no longer working, I felt really lost.
I was told by neurosurgeons that the brain, just like any other muscle, could be strengthen. I had to depend on those words and I grasped onto the hope that someday I'd be able to work , to drive and to function normally again.
Gradually my brain recovered. It was as though I'd take two steps forward, one step back. I started to volunteer at a juice bar, because I was unable to work full time, but after a few hours helping out I'd go home exhausted, so exhausted my brain couldn't comprehend talking and I needed to sleep for most of the next day. But we persevered. We, being my mum and me. I relied completely on her. She was the only one who understood what was happening and she reassured me daily that it was ok, that I was safe. My mum drove me to see dozens of specialists, I tried reiki, acupuncture, EFT, NLP and numerous brain training programs but what really showed a noticeable difference was my yoga practice.
Subtle but powerful, the practice of Yoga Nidra. This systematic relaxation helped me to conquer the extreme fatigue I was experiencing. In the early days of my recovery I was sleeping 18 hours a day, utterly exhausted. Yoga nidra accelerated my brain's renewal and the more I did it, the less sleep I needed.
Through the practice of asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation my mind became more focused, clear and coherent. The neuromuscular functioning improved. Through regular practice, new neural pathways in my brain were form and my autonomic nervous system pattern shifted. This process gave be the ability to do what doctors didn't think was possible - fully recover from this type of brain injury.
This life changing event encouraged me to delve deeper into the traditional and holistic practice of yoga. I spent 2½ years living, studying and teaching in Satyananda Yoga Ashrams around the world.
Today I teach as much as I can. When I'm not in the community, at schools, hospitals or sports centers sharing yoga, I am connecting to my students online with my home yoga courses.
In all honesty I am privileged to be alive.
I feel it is my duty to spread the message of yoga, as it has honestly transformed my life, and, daily, I see this holistic practice positively benefit the lives of many others.