After a 20 year absence, I returned to yoga classes in the fall. It has been a humbling experience; I am so weak, and tight, and over-weight compared to the younger me who left yoga so many years ago. BUT, my body remembers how to do it.
It is not so much the poses that I remember but the interior processes associated with the poses; breathing into the tight muscles; pushing down into the earth to stretch up into a pose; activating the feet and hands to move the rest of the body into alignment.
While the classes have been painful, tiring and humbling, there is something inside of me that is humming with excitement. I love how my mind goes quiet in yoga; I love the mental attention that is required to focus on loosening one muscle while activating another. I love how that attention quietens the chatter in my mind. Last night, we did a very quiet and focused warm up that had my body and mind filled with the sound of my own heart beat. I felt my mind drop down into my body and I felt absolutely still inside my mind. Hard to describe but so incredibly peaceful.
The teacher used phrases such as: “pull your belly button over towards the floor” and “feel your shoulder blades move down your back as if your were sliding a coat over your shoulders”. It made me think about how yoga, when properly taught, is as much a mental exercise as it is a physical exercise; teaching us how to let go; teaching us how to quieten our minds; teaching us the power of using our minds to affect our physical realities.
We have worked a little bit on head stands and shoulder stands in class but, of course, I am still in the in the preparatory stages for these poses. While I was once able to do these poses, I have to build up strength in some muscles and learn to relax others before I am ready again. But, when I lay in bed at night, I see myself slipping into head stands with agility and grace, and it feels wonderful. I feel inside of me that an old, dying fire, has been re-ignited; like some part of me that I have neglected has being re-awakened. I feel like I am re-acquainting myself with my body; that I am remembering what it feels like to love being IN my body.
There is some part of me that wonders when I decided to leave my body; how I allowed myself to let this fire die. But that is a question for another time. Today, I am celebrating because I found the fire again; I have found my way back into my body; into the quiet of my mind; and I feel hopeful.