Hot on the heels of the afternoon with my artist friend I got an email from my photographer friend. I’d also spent an afternoon of yoga with her a couple of months back. She’s not a yogi, but she’d asked if she could photograph me practising at home. I agreed. With a certain sense of fear and dread, I’ll admit, but also a strong desire to be OK with this. Most of all I wanted to make myself available to her and to meet together where our mutual interest in embodiment and physicality and aesthetics might overlap.
Embracing the physicality of yoga asana is such a work in progress I thought this would be a good challenge to rise to in my personal work. Nope, I don’t mean that I suddenly want to become an Insta sensation and cultivate a whole new yoga rockstar profile. I’m not creating a portfolio of improbable backbends and gravity-defying balances and inversions. My ambition is much more humble than this, more profound perhaps. Or maybe it’s really simple?
All I’m trying to do is get comfortable with the idea of having a body that can do stuff, a body that is strong and well, a body that looks and behaves just like any other body. It sounds a little foolish, I know. It sounds that way even to me. It makes Hubby roll his eyes with frustration at my ‘stuckness’ in past narratives. After having a body that for so many years didn’t do much except sleep and feel sick and weak and full of discomfort, a body that seemed to reject all attempts at care and which I found so impossible to look after that I gave up trying …. After all those years to find myself now with a body that’s moderately impressive in it’s abilities (I mean in the normal population, not among other yogis 🙂 ) is still overwhelming to me. I don’t trust it, I don’t know if I’m allowed to make demands on it and if my body will deliver on them. And saddest of all I often feel undeserving of the everyday amazingness of how it is now.
So unwittingly these friends of mine, the artist and the photographer, are participating in my journey to reimagine myself, to regain some carefree confidence in my body, to allow it to be as I find it each day without expectations or fears. This is what I’m practising in my yoga.
Seeing is believing, they say. But as I look at the photos my friend just sent me I still find it hard to recognise myself. Though I find I love looking at this body and that’s a good start. There’s an almost morbid fascination as I try to see this myself in this body, as I try to connect the visual form with how I feel. I’m bewildered by this body, awed by it, a little scared sometimes by how well and sure it is… I do now try to look after it as well as I know how, hoping each day that it won’t let me down again, uncertain if I deserve this vehicle. Second chances bring a curious mix of emotions. But there’s a richer experience here than taking my physicality wholly for granted and I feel curiously grateful for that. Gratitude for the present begins to supplant fear, anger and regret for the past. Through time all things change. I don’t know if past narratives can (or should) be rewritten, but certainly the plot can take directions I never expected and I’m excited to keep turning the pages and see how things develop from here.
featured image from huffingtonpost.co.uk
blog image by my friend