I had yoga today, and I realized, I have not written about yoga for a while. I always mean to, but I never seem to find the time. I love yoga. I love my yoga teacher, Kris, and I love my yoga practice with her. We’ve developed a relationship where she allows me to help direct where the practice goes each day. We base things on what my osteopath finds is going on with my body, on what I’m feeling that week, physically and emotionally, and on what Kris has planned. Sometimes, when I’m having difficult time getting out of my head, I’ll ask Kris to do anything she would like, as long as it is complicated and challenging. Sometimes, I need easy and familiar yoga poses to help me connect to my body. It depends on the day. But I’m learning what I need, and the awesome thing about private class is I can ask for it, and we can do it.
A few weeks ago, before Christmas, I joked to her that I wanted to do a back bend. She decided that I could do a back bend, because my body does move that way, and after a few yoga classes of stretching and working our way to it, and getting permission from my osteopath, I did indeed do a wheel pose, from s standing position. It was exciting, just to realize I could do that, and not fall; that my body was strong enough and flexible enough to catch me and hold me in a position I hadn’t been in for well over 15 years.
Since then, Kris has incorporated many different kinds of back bends into our yoga practice. I always like doing back bends, because it’s something I find easy to do. Prior to that, she had been focusing on hip movements and poses, and keeping the hips squared, because Dr. B (my osteopath) was always finding that my hips are unaligned and was always having to adjust them. I’m amazed that after weeks of practicing this in yoga, it started to become second nature to me in real life, too, and Dr. B hasn’t had to adjust my hips for several weeks now.
The most recent thing Dr. B has been wanting me to do is work on letting my shoulders relax down and back, instead of rounding them forward and up. I told Kris this, and we have been working on opening up and stretching the chest and dropping the shoulders down and back. Dr. B says this will help my back and neck and should help relieve some of the tension type headaches I suffer from on a daily basis.
The first day that I talked to Kris about this and we tried this in class, it felt so exposing to have my shoulders down and back, and to feel a stretch across my collar bones. It’s not a natural position for my body to be in anymore. It’s uncomfortable. It’s been three weeks now, and it’s feeling more comfortable, to the point where I will even attempt to drop my shoulders when I am at home.
In yoga, this means that I get to learn new, harder back bends, because those are not only comfortable for my body, they open the chest and put the shoulders back naturally. Today I did one of the more advanced back bends, and it felt amazing. I was shocked that I could even do it.
Kris approaches yoga with the attitude that it is play, just fun, it is about learning what we can do. She approaches it specifically with me asking the question, “what would happen if……..?” And with the idea of allowing me to learn and build a new relationship with my body, one where I am present and its okay and safe to be fully grounded in my body. Kris is so calm, and she is really enthusiastic about yoga, about being present and connected to everything; it’s hard to explain, but she just has this presence of being there, but not in an overwhelming way.
There are moments where I get upset or stressed out, though. Today, for example, after doing the new back bend pose, we went into a series of poses we do frequently, they stretch the legs and hips. When I went into a low lunge pose, my back leg started to shake from the stretch– most likely because of the new way it has moved earlier– and I got a bit freaked out. I told Kris my leg was shaking, and she continued with the series of poses, speaking calmly. I followed along, but it all became more mechanical, and more of a not here type feeling. I didn’t like not feeling in control of what was happening in my body. This is the whole reason it is not safe to be grounded in my body, the entire reason it is a hundred times safer to live in my head. To go from feeling to strong and capable and so alive to scared and weak and out of control is disconcerting.
After the series of poses was through, we sat in what is known as hero’s pose. Kris asked me what was going on when my led started to to shake, if I could share. I stuttered for a minute, and finally managed to tell her that I’m a control freak and I don’t like to be not in control. She talked about that for a moment, something about being in our bodies means we are in control, even if we are not controlling every muscle spasm. I’m not sure exactly what she said, because I wasn’t totally there. We did some breathing, and I left grounded enough to face the grocery store, but still as disconnected as I could be from my body.