One two, buckle my shoe

One, two buckle my shoe

I wake up from my after-work nap and it’s completely dark. The absolute last thing I want to do is go out. I could so easily transfer my tired body from the bed straight to the sofa for the evening. But instead I put on my yoga clothes including ridiculous knee-high winter socks, find hat and gloves since it’s suddenly turned cold and head across town for class.

Three, four open the door

Arriving at the yoga studio elicits a double reaction for me usually — excitement to have the opportunity to learn from my teacher tempered with a hefty dose of nervousness. His teaching always challenges me — and usually in ways I don’t feel quite ready for. That thing about change happening outside the comfort zone? Feel the fear and do it anyway? Yep, I’m always right up against those edges. I love it and hate it, crave it and fear it. I yearn for change while still clinging so tightly to the past.

Plus I’m not feeling well this week. My whole body aches. Am I overworking? But the aching in ears and throat suggests maybe a virus. Bah. I don’t want to be sick. I consciously orient myself towards positivity in my mind. Hopefully my body will get the idea and follow along.

Five, six pick up sticks

My teacher is in fun mood, upbeat. He’s clearly got an idea about something and he wants to take us places with him. Usually this freaks me out but I’ve got my positive pants on (metaphorically!) so I try align myself with his mood. After all he doesn’t ever go overboard; his fun is always safe and carefully framed.

Tonight he gives out three little wooden blocks to each of us. We play with our standing balances, making shapes that take us low to the ground to place the blocks at angles around the mat and then to pick them up in turn. We lower ourselves down deeply, we stretch our bodies long counterbalancing outstretched hands and feet, we balance the pelvis, stabilise the knee, spread our feet… So many good bio-mechanical principles to take account of. And so many rules to let go of.

I forget about whether I have flu or not and devote myself to this one simple task. Putting down my three sticks as far away from my mat as I can, trying to lift and lower with as much strength and grace as my teacher demonstrated. Nope, I wobble madly, arms flailing to help me keep my balance, internally getting the giggles at this little game. I feel wonderfully childlike, letting go of the need for a precise yoga shape, delighted at being given permission (as I would not usually permit myself) to play and explore and be care-free.

The rest of class time is quite free-form and we individually work our way through a framework rather than a guided sequence. I play with a hand balance, tentatively extending my legs in opposite directions. Is this EPK1 or am I just making a weird shape? Tonight it doesn’t matter. My teacher urges me to make a bigger shape and I reach a little further, feeling as though I am impossibly taking up the whole space, my feet reaching into opposite corners of the room….! Until I fall out 🙂 Just as I hear my teacher happily encouraging me “You don’t know your own power — why have you been hiding it?” He’s slowly drawing me out of my small container, class by class, breath by breath.

Last week this same kind of exploration felt too much, too expansive, too much over a private threshold. This time nothing like that mattered. There was simply the feeling of moving through space, exploring places I didn’t know I could reach, the joy of having a physical body and finding out how it works without any worries about reading the instruction manual. Even so, my teacher took care to touch my shoulder in passing, checking in on me as I sat still for a quiet moment. “OK?” I nod silently.

Yes, I am OK.

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