Finding Strength in Brokenness

By Dharma Yoga Center Staff

It was a Tuesday night and Kat Milburn was feeling good. She was two weeks into her inter-module LOAY 500 hour teacher training and things were tough, but she was determined to get through it. The new vegan diet and daily practices were making her stronger in her practice. She knew she’d be a great Dharma Yoga teacher when it was completed.

Then the accident happened.

She was walking to her kitchen, but it was dark and she entered the door next to it, falling down 15 stairs to her basement. The pain was ripping through her. She opened her mouth to cry for help, but nothing came out.

“I couldn’t stand up and I couldn’t scream because my diaphragm was pushing into my back,” Milburn said. “I crawled half way up the stairs so my roommate could hear me.”

She was rushed to the hospital where the doctors worked on her, then told her the horrible news: She had broken bones in her left foot and also fractured her vertebrae.

One of the first things that came to mind was how she would continue her 500-hour Life of a Yogi teacher training. She could keep the diet for the most part, but she couldn’t practice pranayama and meditation while on painkillers and asana was out of the question.

She had about five more weeks before the second module began. Despite her injuries, Milburn knew she wanted to attend, even if she had to sit on the sidelines while everyone else did movements she no longer could.

The Dharma Yoga Center allowed her to continue her training and Milburn was relieved. After being an athlete her whole life and practicing asana seven days a week, the accident caused her to move into deep reflection.

“It was tough,” she said. “I was working towards the goal and it felt like someone pulled the rug from underneath me. I hurt myself where I couldn’t even do a practice.”

There were Dharma Yoga classes lined up for Milburn after the training near her Arlington, Va., home, but she is not sure when she will be able to teach them.

“I’m feeling like I’m letting everybody down,” she said.

Milburn knew that making her way back to the Dharma Yoga Center on Nov. 2 to complete the eight day training would help her spirits and help her to heal. She could not wait another year to complete it.

“Every day was a tough time,” she said. “It was physically hard, sitting in the chair on the sidelines. Everything happens for a reason. I was given the opportunity to sit and really watch Sri Dharma teach and that was a blessing. I was also given the opportunity to teach in a way I don’t do. I had to sit and picture myself doing the class every time people were doing it.

“We are all humans and we’re going to break down and we’ll have a time where we can’t demo all the time. Learning that was my biggest gift. It made me a stronger.”

Milburn also had support from the Dharma Yoga staff and her nearly 70 classmates, including two reiki healers who would check on her everyday.

“That’s really powerful to be around people who are genuinely concerned,” she said.

Other students told Milburn how inspiring it was to see her strength and determination to come back.

“They’d say, ‘You have the toughest practice of all,’” Milburn recalled. “I feel I made more progress during my own spiritual journey to sit and be silent and not listen to that nasty voice in your head. Remain unconcerned. You fall down a flight of stairs and it’s really hard to see the beauty in that.”

Milburn was right that making her way back to the Dharma temple would help her heal. When she returned home, the doctors were amazed at how fast she healed. A week after the second module ended, Milburn was given the OK to slowly start practicing again.