It’s Going To Be Alright
January 24, 2011 § 1 Comment
From time to time, my practice brings up pithy insights about my life – relationships, decisions, attitudes, etc. Usually, it pertains to something that I’ve been pre-occupied with, like my relationship with my parents for instance (an issue I’m always pre-occupied with), and the associated guilt, anger, sadness and expectations that come with it. On an innocuous practice session towards the end of last year, the thought came to me (probably not too differently from how the Angel Gabriel came to Mary, although without the accompanying flashes of light)
“What if everything that anyone has ever told you about who you are and what you’re capable of doing is a lie?”
What if, indeed.
This would make all the disparaging remarks from a Chinese upbringing, all the insults and jealousies from past friends, all the accolades, accomplishments and tiny precious moments of fame, all the good and the bad and the completely forgettable fallouts from the many relationships that can possibly be packed into 31 years of existence: All. Lies.
I could deal with that. Because if all these statements and ‘feedback’ from supposedly well-meaning friends and confederates were untrue, it only means one thing: That I am Free. Free to discover who I really am, to be true to myself and to pursue goals without that 150-pound suitcase labelled “Emotional Baggage” and its sidekick, “Social Expectations“. Resonant of Buddhist philosophy, this thought came at a time when I was reading this excellent translation of the Yoga Sutras, dealing with the guilt of not following the ‘path’ I’m ‘supposed’ to be following at this stage in life and just trying to find my way, basically. Further ruminations on this thought, post-practice, brought much-needed perspective and peace, and it’s one of the many mantras I bring to mind whenever I’m faced with a situation that requires me to step out of my comfort zone.
In the same way, today’s practice insight was “It’s going to be alright“. I attribute it to the struggles I’ve been having with establishing a regular, consistent practice, while working with limitations of a body recovering from an auto accident. Although I have all my limbs and faculties intact, the right side of my body suffered most of the impact, and is consequently weaker. Which is why my right shoulder aches for days after two Headstand attempts; why my right hamstring is so much tighter than my left; why I have a strained muscle on the right. It’s an endless laundry list of aches, injuries and soreness, leaving me hesitant to practice (and risk aggravating the injury), frustrated and discouraged by my lack of progress. I guess I needed to ‘hear’ comfort in the form of a statement/thought in order to stop beating myself up over situations not within my control, and to relax into life. Not too different from Guruji’s famous three words “All is coming”.
My body has been telling me new things at every practice. This has probably been going on for a bit, it’s just that I haven’t worked hard enough to turn off my stream of consciousness for long enough to pay attention.
Did a home practice on Friday where my wrists told me that they disliked our carpet floor in jumpbacks and jumpthroughs. It’s not your thick, shaggy carpet from the 60s, but still a layer of material that makes balancing poses harder than usual. It was a ‘trial’ practice, to see how the sore muscle on my right side (is there a shorter name for this??) would react, and with the carpet, I think it was a wise decision to do a half-Primary before closing.
Yesterday, it said “Go Easy on me”, which is what I did, and I have no regrets. I could hardly touch my chin to the right knee in most of my seated postures; a graze at best if I bent the knee. But it wasn’t a big deal. I had in mind Guruji saying “Why rush?”, a pertinent question indeed considering that yoga is a lifelong practice, it doesn’t matter if we don’t touch our chins to our knees today or tomorrow or this year. All that matters is that we turn up and give of our best, from where we are each day.
And so I did; turning up at the usual time and tuning in to the body to find the tipping point between effort and ease. It wasn’t too far from my grasp especially as my chest and upper back were as tight as a straitjacket, making deep and slow inhalations and exhalations challenging, every breath a reminder not to push too hard. The tightness changed however, in the backbends. I usually do 3 in a row and call it a day, but inspired by Nobel’s post and the discussions in the comments, I decided to go for 5. K came round to adjust me in the second backbend, and boy, what an adjustment it was! She gently pulled my chest towards the back wall to really open up the shoulders and ease the compression on the lower back. For the first time, I felt light and ache-free in a backbend, grounding my arms and keeping my feet facing forward. All of a sudden, I could breathe again. It was a wonderful feeling.
This morning, I ignored the usual voice that told me how comfortable and warm the bed was and pushed myself out to practice. No drama, no fuss, just turning up, breathing and doing this sequence, like every other Ashtangi on the planet. Although the upper back and shoulders were tight (as usual) and the right piriformis was a little cranky, the hamstrings were much more flexible after yesterday’s practice. I also learnt that I’ve been ‘cheating’ in Upward Dog, so to speak, by not flattening the tops of my feet onto the ground and pushing forward with the hips. Who knew!! Imagine my surprise during Surya A when I felt somebody touching my feet in Upward Dog instead of pressing down on my back in Downward Dog, lol. Apparently when done right, this pose will help lengthen the hip flexors, which can only mean a good thing in this practice.
Still can’t bind in Mari C or D thanks to the sore right muscle, but K did help me get a good twisting action going. Bhujapidasana was the usual – satisfactory pose, sad exit – and I managed to bind my feet in Supta K, but it feels like binding the wrists is light years away. Again, the exit is kind of sad (no Dwi Pada exit anytime soon!), but I am working on Beksana and today managed to get both feet off the ground as I worked on straightening my arms! Woohoo! Small victories 🙂
Two practices in a row, what a great feeling. Looking forward to see what tomorrow brings.