So far, this has been a great trip, The Yoga Experiment. I've been loving every minute of it. However, for the last two months, I have been sore and hurty pretty much every day, especially in my legs/hips/butt area. Monday is usually at a low level, maybe a one or two on a scale of ten. By Friday, though, I have worked up to about a 4 or 5. Then when I take the weekends off to regroup, my body almost normalizes, just in time for class on Monday, where the pain gets ratcheted up again. Now, all of this is perfectly normal and beneficial; I'm just asking more from my body than I ever have before. But it was nice to take a week off to let my body relax and heal completely. I was sitting in the car for long stretches of time, so my muscles tightened up and I took a short step back in the way of "progress," but I think some important repair work got done.
On a deeper level, I was able to get my head back into the right place. When I started this project, I was excited about the mental, spiritual, and emotional benefits that I would possibly receive, as well as the physical. But when I immediately saw a huge improvement in my flexibility and a dip in the numbers on the scale, the physical side of yoga quickly began to overshadow the more subtle aspects.
In two short months I have morphed from a clueless neophyte into... an average student. And that has made me more confident, if not cocky. In recent weeks, I have noticed a shift in my attitude. Burgeoned by my early great strides, I am hungry for more! In class, I have been pushing myself into more difficult versions of poses that I am maybe not ready for. Now that I know the territory, I am able to anticipate what is coming next in class, and I often go there before the instructor is finished explaining the pose, sometimes missing the opportunity to make smaller adjustments and alignments that make the pose more beneficial. I'm not competing against the other people in the class, I have been competing with myself, determined to improve each day instead of letting my body do what it is comfortable with at this particular point in time.
Last week, I read this lovely book: Yoga From the Inside Out: Making Peace With Your Body Through Yoga. It knocked some sense into me. I had some time to think about some things, like: Why am I doing this? Why am I so concerned with having a hot body? Why do I really want to get into Crow Pose (picture at top) or Half-Moon or Full Lotus? Will these things make me more loveable? Will they make me a more compassionate and loving person? NO!!!
In America, some fitness clubs have taken yoga and made it simply into an exercise. They teach it alongside things like CardioBoost or Spinning classes. But in India, yoga was created to be a moving meditation, a way to cleanse the mind and body and to become closer to God, or the Universe, the Divine, or whatever you want to call it. The crazy poses are just a side effect of heightened consciousness and spiritual awareness.
Upon reflection, I've come to realize that my body is pretty awesome (and so is yours!) I realize that I might be contradicting myself a little bit when you compare all of this to what I have written in the past, but that is OK, too! We are allowed to change our minds about such things, everything. It just took a change of scenery, some good reading material, and a little bit of rest to change my perspective on things. Why are any of us really here on this earth? Everyone has a different theory, but personally, I believe that the biggest lesson for most of us is to learn to love fully and accept love in return. If the way we are going about things in our daily lives doesn't facilitate this, we need to take some time examine ourselves.
May we all become closer to our goals...