I really enjoyed the restorative yoga class last night. I’m getting more used to letting go, ‘inviting the pose’ as the teacher puts it, rather than trying to get somewhere — or indeed fervently wishing I was somewhere else entirely! Maintaining concentration is still really hard, but I’m more conscious of physical sensations and unnecessary tensing against discomfort, and I’m starting to work on isolating areas that feel safe to release a little, finding some trust in the props and the ground to hold me if I let go. In class in Supta Baddhakoṇāsana I propped my knees up to keep the hamstring happy, but the teacher adjusted still further to give me more support, and I consciously tried to learn from this that the props are there for a reason, and that playing around with them to find more ease is what the restorative practice is all about. Toughing it out belongs somewhere else.
No fewer than three teachers have said to me in the past week that my practice is ‘mindful’. I think this was meant as a positive comment, that I am not overly ego-driven to achieve more than my body is ready for and that I am conscious of what I’m doing in my yoga — āsana and beyond. So this is all good. After all I’m not sure unmindful yoga is really yoga (taking mindfulness to mean simply non-judgmental awareness)!
I am deliberately probing sensations gently, noticing habitual tensions, making friends with the aches and the pains.
Some days this is adventure enough.
But more generally now that I’m feeling stronger I want to take this discovery further. I want to push limits, test strength, be bolder in my body and move my way through the hesitancy and the fear. I’m not quite thinking of the Olympics, but surely their motto of citius, altius, fortius (faster, higher, stronger) could apply equally to me!
It was so interesting recently in Teacher Training with the anatomy specialist helping students explore their limitations, their injuries or their self-perceptions of their bodies. And fascinating also to consider neurophysiology and how to deepen a stretch by working with the muscle spindle and reciprocal inhibition and all that science stuff. Seeing her doing this with other students looked terrifying. That was my instinctive reaction, but I will have to find some space to explore this gently for myself. I don’t know what use I would make of it either in my practice or in teaching, but I want to know what it feels like and what it yields for me. I would have liked to talk to her about my own general sense of limitation, but I was too busy pretending to be normal! Before TT my teacher urged me not to make a thing out my medical history. Fine by me, it’s not something I usually talk to anyone about, but it would have been interesting to hear her take on ME muscles from her experiences as a physio and practising yogi.
I guess I’ll figure it all out in my own body, given time. It’s part of my mindful practice after all! 🙂 But sometimes it feels a difficult line to tread in being honest with myself while dissembling to others.