Many years ago my mum gave me a postcard with a picture of a dormouse on it with the message “do not disturb”. It was kind of a family joke, the amount of time I spent curled up in bed. Then I was sick and just trying to rest. I couldn’t face being part of the world.
But I kind of felt as though I wanted this sign today, a little message to those around me to give me a bit of space. My whole body is feeling uncomfortable, any old injury points hurt, muscles feel sore, skin feels tender. My temptation is still to curl up dormouse like, retreating from the world. I rested yesterday but today I challenged myself to have a regular day, performing all my usual duties — teaching, work, Sanskrit class. Just a regular day… 🙂 And then yoga class in the evening.
I’ve practised yoga while feeling like this before, but I usually stay home or if I venture to class I try to hide in a corner, I tell the teacher to leave me alone, and I just do my best to ‘get through’, as though yoga is some endurance test or trial of my fortitude.
Trying a different way tonight, I talked briefly with my teacher. Not my usual tactic of telling him simply “no assists” and running away to hide, but this time just letting him know that I was feeling sensitive and to be aware if he was around me. This conversation was a conscious step forward in learning to trust him and trust myself. A little exercise in accepting myself as I am today. No hiding or running away.
My yoga was a practice of playing my edges, physical and mental. Everything felt weird in my body. Sensations didn’t make sense. My muscles felt tingly, swirly, as though they were living creatures under my skin writhing around, contracting in hostile spasms. But my level of flexibility seemed normal, despite my body apparently signaling otherwise. My mind played tricks too, telling me not to try and that I can’t do this, telling me to curl up and practise being a dormouse rather than a yogi.
What could I do instead? I’ve been playing with binds in my practice recently so I explored here, seeing if even today these shapes would continue to offer me the feeling of security and safe containment I’ve been finding. And when that was too much I rested and allowed a mantra to play through my mind and maybe vibrate a little through my body, through these alien-feeling muscles.
And the whole practice became a delicate balancing of allowing my body to feel as it does but knowing I don’t need to take account of it so much, I don’t need to indulge it and curl up, I could try the opposite and stretch and expand. Just to try, just to explore. Maybe even a little befriending too.
Yoga on the razor’s edge.
And I didn’t fall!
Or did I?
In fact the whole experience required such focus it actually got a little trippy. You know that feeling in seated meditation when you’re not sure if you did the most amazing meditation or if you simply fell asleep? It was kind of a movement equivalent of that. But you can’t actually practise asana if you’re asleep, right? You do have to be conscious. So I must have been, despite the dream-like quality of my practice.
Yoga is full of new experiences. I give up trying to understand.