Friday, April 25, 2014

I haven't done enough. But I have done the hardest part. I started.

What was healed is hurt, what was light was heavy, what was deep flowing breath is shallow, breathy and undisciplined. Welcome back to Ashtanga... It is always fascinating to me to watch my mind want to walk around in that same circle of judgement.

I've been injured enough and healed enough injuries in the yoga studio to know that this, really, for me, is what yoga is. It's not the "getting good" or "getting strong" or the healing, or the fixing, but it is a powerful medicine that brings what is out of balance into balance.

Today, I felt like this. Again. I'm a bit body dismorphic, I know rationally that it's not actually how I look. But the power of judgement makes it almost real. The reality is that I'm ten pounds heavier than I was last summer. That's all. Just ten. And that's normal when you don't train and you drink wine with dinner. And its fixable, at that. By training, just a little. And smiling. And knowing that if I practice, all is coming.
I step onto my mat and feel the thoughts... why did I let my stomach get like this? How did I let myself get so heavy? Why would I do that to my practice? I feel the pressing inertia of those thoughts, like an evil other, it wants me to fail. It is so powerful, the judgement that we all have. I hate the way I look in my yoga pants, the fact that I have to wear a flowy top not to feel self conscious about my belly, and the flowy top brings to mind the fact that I'm thinking of, and judging my body.

My strong, beautiful body.

Which can be stronger, and more in balance than it currently is. Which becomes strong and in balance by doing exactly what I am doing. Standing still at the front of my mat, I am already winning the battle. Just standing still.

My mind begins to relax, and it begins to come into balance way before the body does. It will take a month for me to recognize myself again. But I'm on the path, just breathing on my mat. From a bit of a distance, without attachment, I see the spiral of judgement, I watch myself try to point out all of my flaws. And then I breathe in, and raise my arms over my head, in my own living room, just my cat sitting there, staring at me, and the sound of my roommate clicking away at his computer at the kitchen table.

There is dirty laundry in the basket in front of me. My kids ski boots are laying on the floor behind me. A pile of clothes to wash and fold and prepare for Replay for next season is on the boy's dresser (which they've drug out of their room) next to me.

As I fold in half and exhale, all of the noise fades into the back ground. The noise about me looking at my middle, the judgement about the cleanliness of my house or my ability to practice regularly for the last five months.

None of it matters. Not really. Because the antidote to all of that noise? Its right here. Exhale. Flat back, in hale, exhale, fold. Gratitude, letting go.

My tyrannical diligence in pointing out my flaws flows out with my breath and suddenly there is only the practice.

Chattaranga (the push up position posture where you lower slowly) is challenging, I've injured my left shoulder and I don't know how it is going to heal. The only thing that healed it last time was months and months of daily Ashtanga practice.

My worried mind, my monkey mind turns back on. "You should have been practicing. Then you'd be more healed and more ready for Teacher Training in 22 days."

I answer calmly, like I'm talking to Bodhi when he's losing his shit and thinking life isn't fair. "But I wasn't practicing. And I can't undo that. And here we are now. And the fact that this hurts is a good indication that we are doing the right thing."

"But, But, But..." my mind tries to argue back, begins to want to tell me that I'm heavier than I should be and that's why its too hard on my shoulder. It's my fault, its your fault, you are to blame! Shouts my cruel mind.

I remember feeling like this, just this fall. I like it when my body is strong and lean and light. It makes it easier to float, to run, to laugh, to sleep, to take my clothes off. A truth about me is that I flux through this. I don't always feel like this. I feel like this about a third of the time. And when I make the compassionate choice, that goes up. The result of being in balance is a healthier body. Which also looks good naked. I know I can't chase the physical form for its beauty. I have to chase it for its function, and let the byproduct be beauty.
I remember telling my Cert 2 candidates this year, "Its really hard to concentrate when someone is yelling at you. And if you hang out with someone who yells at you all day, eventually you either become numb, or you begin to believe them. If the person who is yelling at you all day is you, tell yourself that you'll get back to them when you are finished working hard to get better."

I exhale. I don't answer, I just modify as much as I can, reminding myself that appropriate modifications are a sign of a good, evolved practice, it means I'm capable of listening to my body and finding my place of benefit. My cat winds around my legs and nuzzles my face, tickles me with her whiskers. She's happy I'm playing on the floor. And suddenly, I am. And I'm so glad.

I'm glad because now I feel like this. Beginner's mind lacks judgement, and a child's beginner's mind is full of play, gratitude and fun. I identify more with this image than either of the two above. This feels like a picture of purpose, and the result of purpose leans in either direction on the scale of lean and strong to fat and heavy. But the physical result is a continuum. I have choice about the inner story, the inner drive. I chose this.
I don't make it to Navassana (boat) today, because eventually the chatarangas are too painful. I sit on my mat, wondering how I will find Mula Bundah (the root lock) or Udiana Bundah (the fly-up or abdominal lock) again if I can't work on my vinyassa (flow portion between assana or posture).

I remember my teacher Dylan helping me with just this issue last summer, and I am rueful because I've been here before, I worked through this problem once before. I have two emotional choices in this moment, I can be angry at being back at the beginning, or I can remember how it was I solved the problem in the past and get back to work.

I break out of the regular practice and spend ten minutes struggling through an abdominal sequence. I still haven't done enough. I get up smiling. I practiced on my own. For an hour. Plus abs. I know where my shoulder is now, and what I need to do. I resolve to go to Bikram this afternoon for the work out (Bikram has no upper body supporting postures, so it won't bother my shoulder), and for the yoga buzz, and for the community.

I haven't done enough, but what I have done was the hardest part. I started.

1 comment:

Liat said...

Thank you for this post! I loved the photos, especially the little girl. It seems like her purpose is to do yoga and nothing else.

I haven't gone back to yoga yet, but I know this is going to help me when I do.