I totally surprised Hubby the other day (and I mean surprised to the point of speechlessness) when I ventured that I don’t really think of myself as ‘sick’ anymore, more as someone pretty well, but just being careful. [If not you’re not a regular reader, I was diagnosed with ME (aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome more years ago than I care to count, and have been getting increasingly well over the last few years].
I don’t think this was a hubristic thing to say. Maybe a little over-confident, at the very worst. But I think it’s realistic, despite Hubby’s surprise. So I just have to deal with it when I then have a less good day. Like today.
So my yoga practice today was more of the ‘rolling around on a bolster with socks on’ type, rather than the ‘sweaty dynamic’ type. But, as always, I learned so much from this quiet exploration that it makes me blush to think how reliant I am in class on the teacher telling me what to do and how to feel. I guess it’s just a different way of learning, and actually I know
without that led practice with abundant alignment cues as well as rich commentary on the bigger value of what we’re practicing I wouldn’t have these quiet in-between experiences, these tiny tiny eureka moments. I can only have my yoga because my teacher has his yoga, and shares something of that in his classes.
I’m full of doubt at the moment about fast classes and whether they’re a good thing or just an addictively nice thing. But what I am certain of is that practicing only one way (just fast classes) isn’t what I need. Although those classes leave me feeling physically released and full of endorphins and stuff, the foundation that makes this possible is arguably in the space between, the times at home when it’s just me practicing in silence, figuring out how to move, what feels right, how long I want to hold, how my breath is leading me.
Today my muscles are very, very sore, even at rest. Perhaps especially at rest? So that’s where my exploration began, with the question of whether stretching would make them feel more or less uncomfortable. I’ve learned over the last few years that it does usually help, but it takes a while for me to relax through the discomfort and into the good part of a stretch.
With muscles so sensitive, I could feel sensations in my body that I’m not usually so aware of. Not necessarily nice to experience, but since I’m trying to understand more about how the body works anatomically and what this might mean for the way I work in asana practice, or any particular asana, it was actually quite helpful! Lessons come in surprising disguises.
small eureka moment #1: I could really feel the difference the tilt of the pelvis made in engaging my hamstrings. I noticed this most easily kneeling on all fours and doing straight leg raises. The more I engaged my core to bring the pelvis parallel with the floor, the more the hamstring worked (or complained, as was the case today!). Duh, I’m sure my physio explained this to me, but not in this particular movement, so a new realisation of something I theoretically understood
small eureka moment #2: in plank if I try to extend my heels backwards I can’t help lock my knees — which doesn’t seem a good thing. Perhaps there’s an in-between action I’ll eventually find… I think I have the same experience in Tadasana as well, which figures.
small eureka moment #3: because I’m lacking in energy today I found it helpful to turn some poses around 90 degrees so that I could practice lying down instead of sitting up. So for example I could practice a more relaxed shape like seated Paschimottanasana using a strap round my feet, lying on my back, gently exploring the relationship between my lower back as I extended my spine along the mat and angled my legs.
small eureka moment #4: My meditation teacher often used the expression ‘friendly awareness’ to encourage me to confront physical and mental discomfort. I think I’m just starting to understand something about how I might practice this in my yoga.
So not a bad day really.
Plus I found that modifications can apply to more in life that making asanas more comfortable: I just discovered that if I put a mixing bowl on top of the kitchen stool rather than the somewhat higher workbench, it’s loads less tiring on my arms to make cake batter!
The things yoga helps with, eh?
And now I reckon it’s nap time.