Back in the day when I started teaching yoga, I used to teach a noon hour class at the NEB (national energy board) in a board room with a massive , immoveable table. I had a lovely student who came to class regularly each week.
At some point I said one of those annoying things yoga teachers say like “I just love downward dog – it feels so good!” (or something equally inspiring) and she looked up and said “ When? When does it start to feel good?”. She had a big smile on her face and some of the others in the class chuckled.
At the end of the class we chatted as she rolled up her mat and I asked her what her experience in yoga was. She opened up to me and told me about her young child who was sick and on oxygen and how he had to be carried a lot (along with his oxygen tank). We talked for quite a while and I suggested a down dog modification for her. I’ll never forget her story or the physical and emotional weight she carried.
So when it comes to writing about taking pleasure in movement and yoga, I am well aware that is not the experience everyone is having. But my hope is that there are some glimpses of pleasure in moving your body in your yoga practice.
Yoga can be a ‘body holiday’ as Vanda Scaravelli wrote in her book “Awakening the Spine” but yoga can also be a difficult and courageous undertaking.
We all bring difficulties with us when we come to yoga class. Each of us has our stories written on our bodies. In a supportive environment like a class or a retreat, we can work on our difficulties (whatever they are) by moving, caring for ourselves and doing both those things in community. That is my vision of what makes yoga so powerful – it is more than the sum of its parts. Don’t underestimate the effect of the yoga on your mind and heart. Don’t be to hard on yourself and do what you can. Rest when you need to. Breath deep and use yoga to build you up – not tear you down. Below is the full quote from “Awakening the Spine”.
“Why do we do yoga? For health reasons? Perhaps a walk in the park would be better. To help someone else? There are so many ways of helping people. To make money? This is surely not the best way. Out of a sense of duty and discipline? Or for some obligation towards ourselves coming from our puritanical background? No, nothing of the kind. No motivation, no aims, only an agreeable appointment for the body to look forward to. We do it for the fun of it. To twist, stretch, and move around, is pleasant and enjoyable, a body holiday.”
hope to see you soon on the mat!