Last month I had a back-to-back mammogram and thyroid ultrasound. For those of you know what a mammogram feels like, you know that deep breathing and moderate dissociation is part of the process. Fewer of you have probably had a thyroid ultrasound. I have a nodule on my thyroid that I have to have ultrasounded every year. For the ultrasound, you have to lie very still with your head hanging slightly back. I was in that position for about 45 minutes last month.
I've never met a woman who's enjoyed a mammogram. It's just not pleasant, but we undergo the procedure because it's part of being a middle-aged female with breasts in the twenty-first century. Also, not uncommon for women their 40s is thyroid irregularities, hence my periodic thyroid ultrasound.
I attribute my good health to my twenty-odd years of regular yoga practice. My endocrinologist suggested that it is probably through Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose that I have managed to slow the growth of my thyroid nodule. I am sure I've staved off joint pain and other age-related ailments through my practice as well.
During my day of procedures last month, I drew strength and calm from the most important part of my yoga practice- the relaxation postures. Every day that I practice, I work on creating a balance between exertion and relaxation. I toggle the two energies until I reach a state of equanimity.
It is often in the most unexpected of places that we recognize the significance of our passive yoga practice. We often celebrate the health benefits or our more active yoga practice-- smaller thyroid nodules, more energy, thinner arms. But the benefits that come from our passive asanas (corpse pose, child's pose) are oftentimes more subtle.
I felt grateful last month when I was forced to notice the benefits of my passive yoga practice. I won't say that either of the procedures I had were enjoyable. They weren't. But neither were they awful. They just were. I will have these procedures, probably every year or two for the rest of my life and I am grateful that I can stay calm, even relaxed while they are happening.