Thursday, March 14

yoga confessions

i have a confession to make. i was drawn to yoga because I knew they lay down in the dark, with their eyes closed, for a portion of the class {in sanscrit, it’s called savasana or corpse pose}. my motivation actually had nothing to do with stretching or strength. it all began with going to Bodybalance, a class which incorporates aspects of tai-chi, pilates, and yoga. that’s where i learnt about yogic ‘nap-time’ at the end of class, and i will never forget how delighted i felt when the instructor told us all to lie down and get comfortable. some of the older participants got so comfortable that they started snoring like tractors. i don’t know if this is normally the inspiration for yoga, because i don’t go around mentioning it to classmates who could well be there for more holistic reasons, but when you think about the fact that my whole illness is about being exhausted, it makes senses. 

that’s what got me in the door, pure laziness. so you can imagine my first time, when i learnt i was going to have to work for that smidgen of savasana by doing all kinds of physically impossible poses {asanas} for an hour first. i didn’t think i’d need a towel as i do in cycle and circuit, because it’s yoga and in yoga you just sit around looking serene and then have a sleep. shortly into that first class, i was wet, i was red, and i was inelegantly shaking with exertion. {i do power vinyasa for those who know about these things; i found that out later, and it’s no walk in the park}.  before we even got to that eagerly awaited savasana, we did ‘inversions’ which was another aspect of yoga i was quite unprepared for; basically headstands, shoulder stands, anything upside down will do. so by the time you lie down on your mat, you have thoroughly earned it. for the next four days i struggled to walk, to lower myself to the toilet, to shuffle down the flight of stairs which led our flat, as my muscles cried and groaned with over exertion. it was actually agony and i made sure that ben knew all about it. infact, i only just recovered in time to do it again the next week. and it made me exhausted; all i wanted to do was sleep and sleep. 

considering my initial motivation, it’s quite surprising that I continued with the torture. but i found that i loved the challenge, and loved how i felt after I’d put my body through its paces. it was a physically intense work out for every muscle group, and i was learning to control and slow my breathing, a skill i’d been wishing i had since my struggle with panic attacks {a skill my psychiatrists had struggled to teach effectively}. practicing yoga was another piece in the puzzle of me feeling better overall, and an exercise session which i enjoyed, so i was committed to continuing. 

i walk up to the room holding my chai brown yoga mat, smell the whiff of incense and take off my shoes. if the scent were any stronger i would get a headache, and i am amazed i can handle it. i chose this yoga centre over another one which oozing yogic spirituality – i just didn’t want to sit still for half an hour chanting ‘shanti shanti’, and then spend an eternity in silence with movement and scratching forbidden. the instructor sat at the front of the room amid ornate cushions, prim and proper like a goddess with her legs in lotus position, and she looked like the type who would reprimand me for laughter or any other show of joyfulness. it made me think i was in an ashram and that’s one place i will never go. the only physical thing we did in that class was lift our leg up and move it in a few circles, and the whole ordeal was intensely stifling and anxiety provoking.  

my first yoga teacher told us that if we were prone to impatience in everyday life, we would probably find ourselves wanting to let go of our poses as soon as possible. i hold the pose, and inside i’m screaming, “ come on, say we can come out of it now, I’m going to fall over, my leg is burning, this is agony, you’re taking too long...nooo, don’t correct that person over there, it distracts you from realising how long we’ve been holding this position...” finally, long overdue, the teacher says we can come back into a more relaxed position, and I am the first one out of it with a crash and a bang. but I’m learning to breathe through the pain and striving to be in less of a rush. i am incredibly impatient in most areas of life, so i think yoga and long term illness are doing me some good. it helps with my anxiety, with pain management, with flexibility, with strength, with posture, with mood, with fatigue, so yes, i suppose this post is basically just a long winded way of saying ,’ i am so glad that I found yoga.’

i am heartily tempted to go along to this kind of yoga; with my uncontrollable laughter issues, i think i’d love it. watch this video here. do you think its mad or wonderful?

leg warmers i knitted for shavasana, of course

No comments:

Post a Comment