Three years ago, at this exact time of the year, I was deep into a training with my teacher Christina Sell when I vividly recall doing a pose which she referenced back to the 80s aerobics craze.
What it evoked inside of me was the ways in which so many of us were brainwashed into thinking “no pain no gain” and how so many of us were running ourselves ragged to workout!
We were on our first side, (so unbelievably reminiscent) on the opposite forearm, our legs and hips stacked one above the other and Christina asked us to lift the top leg. Now, the incorrect way to do this would be to lift the leg by using the leg muscles. What she was asking us to feel was the engagement of the gluteus minimus. One of the muscles which engages the hip area (I know, so sorry, Teach).
I had been about six months out of my first of 3 hip surgeries and I knew I was doing the lift correctly, because my hips were far from pleased.
Now, 4 major surgeries later, and two minor ones. I have been off of my mat (hence the name of my blog) for about 16 months because my body has not called for any asana and it has required so much healing (which has required very deep listening).
At this threshold crossing, remembering this potent time of the year, and what it asks of me and of others, my dear and cherished friend asked me to practice with her. It seemed an auspicious offering.
With so much of my teacher’s technical expertise in my back pocket through years of study, and so much time of deep attunement to my body’s wisdom, I knew I would be able to trust myself no matter what.
The teacher who taught the class we attended is someone who is very beloved to me and someone whom I watched become an extraordinary teacher with a very tender heart and with whom I knew both my body and heart would feel safe with due to her level of mastery and her whole-hearted kind spirit.
What I found was that I had no expectation of what would come. And subsequently (aside from my personal reality speaking up and saying, “Wow, this is tiring!”), everything was all there. I didn’t push anything. But without wanting something, and without waiting for it, if it is inside of you, it is simply inside of you. (Please do not misunderstand. I am in no way discounting the importance of practice. I could surely use some practice!)
Now, I know that every muscle in my body will be sore in two days. I do know that. But it was a really good lesson for me when I look back to the insane ways I behaved in the 80s. “Burn burn burn! Can’t miss a day” mentality.
I don’t know when I will begin practicing asana again. And I saw how horrible my hamstrings felt in my first uttanasana to how delicious they felt several uttanasanas in. Which was amazing! Reminding me again of what Christina has so often spoken about. I apologize for how I may be reckless with the eloquence of her words. But she has explained how for a flexible person, many poses just come so easily for them. But for a person who is stiff, they are often working much harder on the same yoga poses. No moral judgment intended, just an observable truth.
Getting back to myself, I think what happened holds very powerful meaning for me. If I were to want or wait for or desire something, I can see that it may just take the deepest act of listening.
My body knew what to do because it had learned it all before.
I learned something else today.
I haven’t missed practicing asana. My body has been informing me of what it has needed all along. Recovering from surgeries has been very challenging. And losing massive amounts of weight and not feeling physically strong has taken a large toll on me in more ways than I wish to share.
But I learned in a very visceral way that because I was ready, and because my body knew what to do, my body began to settle my heart in a way I have been calling for, for a very long time.
We have all heard (and even studied in most texts) that the yoga is the doorway. Well, after so much injury. So many surgeries. So much heartbreak. So many ways of finding my way back to myself....
I actually experienced something, though taxing, and challenging, which settled my heart, during what for me, is a time of year, which brings me to my knees before god in great despair, calling for a way to piece myself back together.
I no longer think that is the approach. I see that when something is already inside of you, it never leaves you, even if it has been surgically removed, replaced, altered, etc.
With deep and profound gratitude, I thank all of my teachers for bringing me to this moment.