Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Feeling uninspired? Take it to the mat!

Michigan weather yesterday was a scorcher! By the end of the day I was hot and tired, actually exhausted.  I have been attending a yoga series for the last 15 weeks (give or take a few) at 5:15 pm on Tuesday’s and yesterday was no exception.  I got on my mat face down (after dragging myself to class); eventually I picked my body up enough to get into Balasana (child's pose).  My mind and body were screaming "We don't want to do this, we don't want to be here.  It's hot, we are tired, let's go home!"  So eventually my instructor says, "stand at the front of your mat!" And so it began.  We started of course with standing postures at first in the humid heat of the day.  My phone read 96 degrees before class started.  I don't know how hot it was in the room but it felt like we were just north of Hell.  About 15 minutes into the practice I was still feeling hot, and extra sweaty by now and my mind was talking back, saying things like "How long have you been practicing?  When is this going to end? Oh my God it's hot!"  The mental chatter would not shut up.  Then my teacher said, it's only been 18 minutes.  If you could have heard the things that I thought when he said that, Oh my God!  Let’s just say that there were a few four letter words roaming around in my mind!  Yes, I love yoga.  Yes, it does wonderful things for me, but sometimes I just don't want to do it even though I get great benefits from it.  But I do it anyway, because it still holds true that I have NEVER gotten off the mat thinking "I wish I would have stayed home!"  Challenging though it may be sometimes, yoga has truly been my saving grace.   After dripping sweat from every pore in my body, going into what seemed like 50 Chaturanga Dandasanas (top of a push up) and Adho Mukha Svanasanas (downward facing dog), we finally got started on hip openers.  Feeling a stretch in my hips just makes me smile for some unknown reason.  Rocking gently from side to side while those ligaments holding my hip together elongate just feels so comforting.  Maybe it’s because we are cradling the leg and “rocking the baby”, it feels like self-nurturing and in a way this is part of what yoga can do.   By the time we got to seated postures I was no longer mentally swearing and I had surrendered to my practice. One of my personal favorites is Rajakapotasana (king pigeon), though I do not believe mine was very royal, it was more like a jesters pigeon!  What I like about Rajakapotasana is that you have to go slow.  You have to ease your way into it because with each inch that you lean forward you can feel the stretch in the hip and your body knows instinctively when you are at your edge.  It creates such an awareness, such tension in hip in that asana, that you really have no choice but to deny the ego’s desire to go further than you’re capable of.  Either you listen to your body and go to your edge or you hurt yourself.  I respect the wisdom of what yoga can do, and I respect my body and how far it can go.  Yes, sometimes I push myself beyond what I feel that I can do, but that is my edge, it’s exactly where I need to be, no more no less.  It’s funny all of the things that the mind can come up with; they are usually before and during classes, old fears, the I can’ts, the I don’t want to’s, and the unwillingness to extend a little more.  But then there’s the after effect.  After I got off the mat I felt better than when I began, no longer exhausted, no mental swearing, and no watching the clock.  Yoga calmed the turbulent lake of my mind, energized my body and filled my heart with gratitude.

This is yoga on the mat!


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