I don’t remember what Sunday mornings used to be like before the introduction into my routine of a 2hour vinyasa class. Now I look forward to springing out of bed at 8am for a quick shower then getting a couple of miles across town without stopping for breakfast. Well, I always look forward to the idea of this; in reality, in my physical body, it’s not always so happy-go-lucky and easy.
Today was particularly grim. I spent yesterday feeling really sick, a bit dizzy, aching muscles, and monumentally tired. Work has just been too much recently and it’s taking its toll. But I really didn’t want to let the way I was feeling stop me doing something I love and look forward to.
Despite the grey skies and rain!
So I took a gamble and went anyway. I convinced myself I was feeling a bit better than yesterday.
The gamble paid off. By which I mean I handled my class just fine and I learned a lot from the experience. Plus I’m still awake enough to write in the afternoon.
In the past I used to get really stressed if I wasn’t feeling well in class. I used to be afraid I’d feel too sick to stay in the room and I’d have to pack up and leave early. And that somehow that all mattered. Now I have more trust. I am slowly, slowly learning that my body sometimes needs a bit of TLC and coaxing and doesn’t necessarily feel as bad as it says it does (bark-worse-than-bite syndrome!). I remind myself that I could try to relax my muscles rather than bracing them against feelings of fatigue and soreness. Softening them uses less energy and is less uncomfortable — it’s just massively counterintuitive and not what I’ve spent the last couple of decades doing. I am also learning to trust my teacher not to give up on me if I’m less capable and my fellow yogis not to judge me if I’m out of sequence or resting a lot.
I sat a little before class reading a bit of Patanjali, mostly as a way of distracting myself from feeling scared about being in class when I didn’t feel in control of my body. But I chuckled when I got to Sutra 2.16: heyam duhkham anagatam “Pain yet to come is to be avoided”. Okay, I suspect this might be more about accumulated karma or viveka rather than the anxiety of whether ME symptoms will let me get through a vigorous asana practice, but the point did hit home that I certainly wasn’t practicing presence.
So I set an intention to let the yoga move through me and see what happened, to loosen my grip, relax my worries; to let my practice unfold into what it is today.
And my muscles did hold me up through class, my brain could focus (as well as ever!), and there was still enough energy in that other part of me (‘the witness’?) to keep some track of the bizarre thoughts, anxieties, and distractions that were grumbling along as my personal, internal soundtrack to my practice.
My teacher offered adjustments in Balasana, Tadasana, and Savasana so clearly my poor body didn’t look terribly at rest during these restorative poses. But I was there and that was all that mattered. My attempt at abhyasa (regular, dedicated practice).