I’ve rearranged my mornings a bit since I’ve started back to work. I was doing yoga first thing after feeding the pets, but it just didn’t flow. After I got all loosey goosey and reveling in the “sauce” of my practice, I had to walk the dog and get ready for the day. Ashok got short-changed more than I would like, and I spoiled my yummy yoga afterglow. I decided to start walking Ashok first thing and then come back and do my yoga practice. For the past two days it’s worked like a charm.
Ashok is happy because she is anxious for her walk and doesn’t keep nudging me to come take care of her. She’s happily relaxed and content in her kennel while I’m practicing. I signed up for yogaanytime.com awhile back, and found a teacher that I love. Her name is Alana Mitnick, and she leads this lovely slow, strong practice with long holdings that resonates with my energy in the morning. I hate that fast-paced yoga that is so popular today. Yoga, for me, is a practice in settling in and experiencing what is under the layers of my Type A “get ‘er done” personality. That fast stuff just keeps me in that groove, and I never catch a glimpse of what’s underneath.
This morning in Janu Sirsasana (JAH-new shear-SHAHS-anna), Head – to – Knee Forward Bend – I found myself beating myself up because I couldn’t get to my toes. “Damn…. I used to be able to do this,” I thought. “I just have to keep working with it. I’ll get there.” But then Alana mentioned that I need to “find an edge and feel what’s happening right there.” Ahhhh …. I found a little edge in my hamstring and stayed there for a breath or two. A beautiful release happened naturally, and I moved a full inch more into the pose before I found another edge. When I was reaching for my toes, I could feel it in my upper back as I was crunching my spine and creating a c-shape with my vertebrae. As I straightened my spine and allowed my body to naturally fall into the shape of the pose – my version of the pose at this moment – my back released, and I found my strength.
It’s that letting go of what should be that I struggle with in this life. I should be a better partner. I should be a homeowner. I should have more savings for retirement. I should be thinner. I should have softer, straighter hair. I should be more patient. I should be … I should be … I should be …… able to reach my toes. If I’m ever going to improve in anything, I have to take a lesson from my yoga and accept where I am. It is only from that place that I can improve incrementally.
A friend of mine asked me the other day how I learned to speak up for myself at work. She struggles with speaking her mind and asking for what she wants. Instead she cries and clams up. She’s only known me since I’ve been able to speak up for myself, and she was stunned to hear that I was not always like that. I, too, would clam up and freeze when confronted with a situation where I had to stand up for myself – especially with authority figures. I had to learn to sit in that space of feeling frozen and accept where I was in order to change. I had to feel those feelings that were trapped in that frozen stance, understand where they came from and allow myself to move into a different “me” inch by inch. I couldn’t force myself to change. It had to come from a release inside. It took feeling my feelings and loving myself through it. And it was not nearly as easy as this morning’s yoga pose.
I love yoga because of what it teaches me about myself. Almost everything in life is about releasing or standing in my power or being patient in pain or another lesson that I learn on my yoga mat. My mat is a microcosm of the world and the actions I need to take to be whole. Being a physical person, I first learn things by feeling them in my body. My body is so wise, and it teaches me in a way that no external teacher ever can. This morning I’ll let go a little bit and see where I end up. The journey ahead just might be delicious.