Thursday, August 9, 2012

Outta my head; into my body



There was a time when I practiced yoga to get outta my head. My messy head. My anxious head. My perseverating head. My head that spinned with stories of loved ones in danger. Loved ones out of control.  My head that thought that if only it could understand, it could give to others, help others, change others, ….. control others. 
Understanding seemed so important and so slowly, did doing the opposite: accepting not understanding, not giving, not helping, not changing……. not trying to control.
I slipped back into my body making it what I might focus on, bringing awareness to a posture, a muscle, a twinge, a breath. Thinking only ooooh, that’s what that feels like; that’s how this hinge I call my elbow wobbles in side plank, this  muscle I call my thigh works.  Strange how my legs seem different lengths. This is how I make waves of breath like tides course over the beach of my body.
 My fears shifted.  Forget the loved ones. In handstand I faced the floor – and feared it might just disappear beneath my hands and then where would I be?  In crow I thought I would tumble face forward into it. Clunk.  Hitting it hard. Ow my poor head.
And then there was the bliss. The end of a practice. Savasana. Corpse pose. Dead to thoughts. Dead to spinning stories. Dead to what yogis call monkey mind. Release.
I sought this over and over and over again.
And so for a dozen or more years, yoga was one of the places I would go to sink into my heart. I wanted to go deeper.
I did. I took a great teacher training course from a very smart woman who brought in other very smart and thoughtful experts.  I learned anatomy, ethics, Sanskrit,  yogic literature, assisting, yoga for special conditions and lots of restorative yoga.
Then abruptly I moved. Everything changed, including my practice. The yoga in my new home town  was different, and I determined to do as much as possible. I discovered new practices, wonderful new teachers. I took an additional 10 day training in   teaching yoga to seniors.
And then I hit bottom.  Nothing was taking me deeper. There was no deeper. There was not even deep.  After a while I began to dislike my practice. Really dislike my practice.  Intensely dislike my practice. I have an aversion to the h word or I might even use that one.
I took a break.  I swam, but practiced little yoga.  While formerly I practiced three to five days a week, I drew it down to once.  And then not at all. No yoga.
Until two days ago. And there it was just waiting for me. Yoga, I thought after and strong, good practice, is in my body Yoga is in muscles’ memory, in my breath. Even after neglect, it welcomes me back.  I need it anew.
I went back to a class and did it again today. I think I'm hooked.
While there may be benefit to cultivating a indifference as to whether or not one “likes” or “dislikes” one’s practice and doing it anyway, that’s not my pattern.  I’m more erratic. Too late for me to cultivate the intense daily discipline of an Olympian and other admirable human creatures.  
 I'm going to give myself a break and say it isn't that I don’t have  discipline.  It's just a different kind of discipline  (and  I admit, maybe not as productive a one). I do things intensely for a while and then slack off, but throughout my life I regularly circle back to the things I do, the things I am.   Yoga is one of those things. Writing is another.
 To be followed soon by: Outta my body and into my head 

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