When Your Body Becomes A Bumper Car

Yoga was the last thing on my mind when I returned to DC this week after my father’s death. Yet, gravity pulled me back to yoga quickly. 
“Here goes nothing,” I thought, dragging my feet into the studio. 
My spirit was as heavy and shapeless as wet laundry. My narcolepsy was worse than ever – I’d collapsed to the ground more in the past week than in the past 6 months.  
The 21 Day Yoga Challenge was the buzz around the studio, which made me cringe. Having missed 8 days of the challenge in New Hampshire, I felt defeated – a failure.
We began class breathing in and out slowly. An image of my father came to mind quickly.  I blinked back tears and thought I might throw up. 
But as class went on, I re-discovered something amazing – my body. 
Matthew Spaulding Photography
I’d spent the past week living in my head and heart.  Understandably, my emotions took a ferocious journey when my father died – and my body went along for the ride. As a result, I had tight shoulders, knots in my stomach, a clenched jaw, heart-racing and trembling hands. 

“Many people treat their bodies as if they were rented from Hertz – something they are using to get around but nothing they genuinely care about understanding.”  -Chunglian Al Huang

Yoga helped me realize I’d been treating my body like a rental car, or worse, a bumper car.

I love bumper cars!

Slowly but surely, I’m re-claiming a little territory to call my own – separate from my hazardous sadness and uncertainties.  I went to yoga every day this week, and even attended two classes back-to-back one night – a first for me!

Matthew Spaulding Photography

I won’t complete the official Tranquil Space 21 Day Yoga Challenge, but I dare say these past three weeks presented greater challenges.  

We are complex beings – a mixture of mind, body and soul. 
“You don’t have a soul.  You are a Soul. You have a body.”  – C.S. Lewis

Usually, I love this C.S. Lewis quote for emphasizing the soul. This week, it reminds me I still have a body.  Each part of the equation is important.

Perhaps it’s inevitably we ride around in reckless bumper cars every once in a while. Thank you, yoga – for helping me pick of the pieces afterwards. 


Matthew Spaulding Photography: http://www.matthewspaulding.com/


  1. Gail on January 28, 2012 at 11:38 am

    As always you are wise beyond your years and an inspiration to me. Listening to your body as well as your inner voice you cannot loose your way in life.

  2. Melissa on January 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Julie–your ability to eloquently make sense of your experiences always amazes and inspires me. You are so brave to honestly share these insights with us. Thank you!

  3. Anonymous on January 29, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Julie, love this post.

  4. Anonymous on January 29, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Just wanted you to know that others share your sadness at your fathers' passing. However it is good to see that there are things like Yoga that can help you to go on as I know your father would have wanted you to do. Peace and comfort to you.

  5. chris on January 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    julie, thank you for your post i find it inspirational and intelligent. I guess that I am somewhat lucky in that I was diagnosed with narcolepsy, cataplexy, restless legs, and more at the beginning of my senior year in high school.I have lived in Colorado for the past 20 years and I am always wondering how altitude affects my narcolepsy. I am a skier, mt.biker, ice hockey player, soccer player, hiker, and carpenter. I am also a beginner at yoga. I am very proud of you for your educating the public at large. We can be athletic, intelligent, and an inspiration to others.I totally understand the strain and drain that heavy emotions take on your body.Since you seem to be somewhat new with your diagnoses I encourage you to be prepared for subtle changes that occur with your narcolepsy.Obviously you are familiar with the progressive side since it doesn't all happen overnight.It definitely does plateau for quite awhile and any changes you might encounter in the future will be much more subtle.The fact that you take yoga so seriously will only help you in noticing those subtle changes.Personally,I believe that staying in shape is key to being on top of your narcolepsy so good on you.Being 41 has led me down several different paths, but employment has always been my most difficult realm in life, so if you have figured out a good way to make a living I suggest you stick with it and appreciate every bit of it. Losing your father is obviously difficult, but I trust that your spiritual connection will help you with that, just as it helps you with your narcolepsy. Peace to you and the rest of the planet.

  6. Meredith on January 30, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Thank you for this post. I just lost my father too, and have been looking for answers about why my body is doing everything it is right now. I feels like I am being repeatedly kicked in the gut.

    • julie on January 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      Meredith, I’m so sorry to hear about your father’s passing. I wish I could take this pain away, I wish it was a fast process, but I’ve found my grief comes and go in waves. Stay strong. Sending peace and big hugs your way, Julie

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