I have a long history with yoga. I started learning it when I was about 13, maybe even a little younger. I suffered from insomnia when I was 11 and 12 and found yoga the only way to cope. My sleep problems were triggered by an illness I developed as a child, the stress of migration and my parents’ divorce. My mother, siblings and I moved to Canada, but my family was originally from Guyana. When I was visiting family there I developed osteomyelitis, which is inflammation of bone marrow due to blood infection. I was deathly sick and lost the ability to walk. I was flown to Trinidad where I was diagnosed but the first surgery was unsuccessful so their solution was to amputate the right leg. My mother, a British-trained nurse, refused and sought out the Canadian embassy to help us return to Canada. The doctors in Trinidad said: “If you take her back she will die,” but my courageous mother took the risk based on her knowledge and faith.
When I got to Toronto I had a series of seven operations and gradually improved. I went through rehabilitation and wore a brace and never lost my leg. I was told that I would walk with a limp and one leg would be shorter than the other. I had experienced extreme pain and was so grateful to be alive that I developed spiritual practice during my illness. I discovered a greater sense of self and strength because I came so close to death.
As a result of my experiences I developed sleep issues and to help with this I started yoga. It wasn’t very common at that time and my family and friends certainly weren’t studying it. I did it privately and there was always a yoga teacher renting a church basement somewhere and books in the public library. I found the experience so profound that I was hungry to study with various teachers using the practice to heal myself.
– Che Marville