Over the past month, my practice has been changing. We have had Kirsten Berg and Mitchell Gold, two Level 2 Authorized Ashtanga Teacher, as guest teachers in the Mysore Room for a 4 week period. One of them, is a talented bodyworker whom I have been going to for structural integration (aka rolfing) for a few years now. Like any long term project, it is all too easy to have a distorted view to the project after a long period of time working on it. The fresh eyes (and ears) of Kirsten and Mitchell was good in bringing my attention to patterns that needed addressing. They pushed us in new ways that inspired change or simply opened the doors to exploring the practice and/or seeing our body and mind in a new way.
You have little control over the world around you, but full control over the world within you.” ―
Mitchell suggested changes to poses in both standing and primary that might provide a deeper opening and more accessibility of some particular poses in intermediate. One of the areas of opening was in the muscles and ligaments that hold the SI joint together. For many years now, I have been consciously working actively to keep the SI joint intact for fear of another SI joint separation. Therefore the notion of creating freedom within the joint was a little scary. However, since Mitchell has worked on my body for many years, I felt that his assessment of risk was from a point of being well-informed. I explored the modifications with a mindful approach which resulted in a deeper inner focus within the context of the practice. I guess that is what happens when you are deeply feeling with the hopes of catching potential injuries before they occurs.
Those in the room with me, will certainly note that I was not this focused in each and every pose. After all, I *am* human – flaws and all. It should also be noted that, with the additional work, I have not gotten through my full practice everyday. In fact, I was quite surprised how different a few poses towards the latter part of my practice felt this morning as I inhabited them. It may not have looked any different from the outside but it sure felt different on the inside.
There have been other changes. Hot flashes after a kapotasana that is just a wee bit deeper. I breathe as I watch it pass. And, I must admit, it is nice to let my guard down a little and deepen the internal work. I can’t say that I am done resisting but I am happy for the journey deep within, however long or short it may be.
I stood at the head of the class, practicing tree pose along with my students yet acutely aware that my tendency for wobbling in and out of the pose could throw them off balance. I verbalized how sometimes it’s all too easy to do what comes effortlessly while avoiding what doesn’t. Acknowledging that balancing on a single leg was NOT one of my effortless areas of the practice, I opted to practice what I was preaching.
After class, I headed to the gym for my last workout of the year 2019. This past year, in particular, I have found it beneficial to balance out the flexibility gained from my practice with targeted strengthening in the gym. Although I am always sore, my reliance on anti-inflammatories and icepacks has lessened. Of course, there’s the nutritional component that plays a part as well. Limiting the foods that lead to inflammation (aka pain) in my body is another area requiring discernment. Rest, work, play… you name it.
It is ALL a part of the balancing act of living in a body. We find balance, we lose it, we gain it back, and we strive to maintain it. We teeter the edge, testing the limits, and maybe falling out a time or two. And when something new is added to our routine, we adjust and find balance anew. I think this ability to adapt is pretty cool. Don’t you?
Ah, those fluctuations of the mind. I know them all too well. Tack on a bit of enthusiasm and/or nervousness about teaching yoga, and all hope of stilling the mind goes right out the door. It’s hard not to feel a little hypocritical.
I mean, we are lucky enough to have two amazing Level 2 Authorized Ashtanga teachers with us through January 3rd and I can’t pay attention to my breath to save my life. I get some simple, yet transformative, input on my down dog that instantly relieves the wrist pain I’ve been feeling for weeks and all I can think about is how I might share that with the students in the classes I’m scheduled to teach.
“Inhale”, I tell myself. Then, 20 minutes later I realize that I lost my focus yet again. The voice in my head alternates between what Julie has learned, and how sad it is that Julie still hasn’t learned [insert anything]. Another notes that it shouldn’t be about me anyway; it’s about them. Then, there is yet another voice chiding me for how crazy it is of me to think that I have something to share when I can’t even just breathe in and out.
Black Friday. Cyber Monday. The season of spending is upon us. On this day, “Giving TuesDAY,” I am inspired to support two organizations that have made an big difference in improving my life, my children’s, and many others.
If it is in your means, please donate to these, or another one of the many organizations who help to make this world a better place.
One morning, while en route to yoga, I questioned why I was even going. My body ached something fierce and my mind was far from finding acceptance with how I was feeling. It was hard not to set an expectation for a “bad practice.” I reminded myself to have an open mind and not judge what was to come. After all, that *is* the point of the practice: the same sequence of poses, done in the same order, 6 days per week unfolding in a new way each time.
The radio played as I creeped along the freeway. I shook my head, surprised to find traffic so heavy this early in the morning. Ahead of me, the clouds (both dark and light), caught just a hint of the sunlight. It was beautiful and immediately made me feel grateful to have slowed down just enough to notice. Just like that, my mind shifted and I smiled thinking how easily the bad can be turned into something just a little bit better.
As for my practice, I do not recall how far into it before I became aware that I was no longer feeling any signs of discomfort. I guess, like the sunlight behind the clouds, the body to which I awakened also had a few surprises for me. A short while later, even though the pain had left, I told my teacher that I wasn’t sure how deep of a kapotasana I had to offer. A few deep slow breaths into the pose, I felt a sudden wave of release. She had said, “Let go,” and so I did. I let go of fear, my need to protect my heart, and I let go of expectations…at least for a time. And this too was new, for I’ve been holding on to a lot lately.