Well, I should of known. It even started out wrong today. When that obnoxious tinkle of an alarm went off at 5:30 I couldn’t muster myself to face this morning’s practice. I stayed in bed for 5 minutes, stuck in a dream-state yet semi-conscious that I had to get going. Boyfriend Yogi was already neti-potting in the bathroom while I flailed about in bed groaning.
It was cold walking to the studio for a change. These past 2 weeks have been quite warm and the studio has been really hot and humid and rather crowded too at Mysore. But not today. For these reasons and others for sure I could barely break a sweat in practice today! I did full vinyasa and all my jump-throughs without blocks today, but even so, no drip! I couldn’t find a flow. I moved a bit slower than normal but really I just felt disjointed. And that is the perfect word for what has been going on in my body. The joints are not happy.
A week ago I decided I needed to chill way down in my practice. I had been pushing for weeks, making great improvements but as a result 2 not so happy things were happening in my body. First – my knee. It had been sore and feeling a bit inflamed, but suddenly last week it started to really hurt. Bad pain, not good pain. There was this pulling aching feeling on the inside of my knee and certain postures such as any of the half-lotus postures as well as triang mukha eka pada pascimottanasana (what a long word…) really did not feel good! Secondly – my cycle was suddenly totally off! I was 2 weeks late and I knew it was from all the yoga and running around I had been doing, starting off with the Tim Miller weekend. I needed to rest my body and encourage some apana flow! So from Wednesday through this Tuesday I took rest days with gentle stretching and Kundalini meditations and pranayama. On two of those days I practiced at the studio but only did my 10 Surya Namaskars, the standing sequence (minus ardha baddha) and then I used sand bags and bolsters to prop myself up for some lovely long restorative poses.
So coming back to my full Primary practice was inevitably going to be tough. Yesterday just felt icky and sticky and I didn’t even attempt dropbacks. Today I thought the full vinyasa would get me going but when it came time for my backbends today – no go. I practiced 9 backbends, desperately hoping to warm up the back and find that beautiful opening again. I stood at the top of my mat waiting for Boyfriend Yogi (who is leading Mysore this week while our teacher is down in Miami with Kino). I prepared my stance but suddenly I was paralyzed with fear. One week off and suddenly it seemed as though I couldn’t even remember to how to drop back! My lower back felt tight and my breath was short. I barely arched over before I freaked out and stood up straight in fear. I know, I know…”why fearing?”…but I was! He walked away to help someone else. I waited and decided to try again, but as soon as I brought my pelvis forward and began to arch, my lower back went in a spasm and I had to stop. I gave up. I did one more backbend from the ground, but then I moved on. I’m not sure if I was being good to my body by not pushing it (other than the 10 backbends…which is still kind of a lot) or if I was being weak and fearful and babying myself too much. I lay down on my mat and was flooded by thoughts and emotions. I felt pathetic and disappointed. My mind whirled – nasty nasty vrittis! Suddenly I was spinning with unimportant, unrelated and just plain destructive thoughts….”God, I’m so fat….I can’t believe I lost my backbends…..Seriously one week and I’ve ruined my practice…and I’ve gained weight! Irreversible damage!….I hate my hair color…. It looks so bad….Why can’t I have more discipline….” The list goes on. Silly stuff. Fortunately I had the sense and wherewithal to stop the wild horses of my mind for a split second. I reminded myself of the conversation we had this past weekend at the Yoga Sutra discussion group Boyfriend Yogi led at Allied Yoga. We discussed how the Sutra describe non-attachment and how essential this is as we fluctuate in our practice. The body is constantly changing….the mind is constantly changing….change is the only constant! It is possible to have emotions but not become attached to them. It is important to cultivate this skill of observing the mind, observing the emotions, acknowledging them but then continuing past that, not getting stuck in these thoughts or feelings. So as I lay on my mat, I brought my attention back to this. I tried to remember that, in my mother’s oft-repeated words, “this too shall pass”. That worked for a minute…. or maybe less….and then the whirlings recommenced as I turned myself upside down for the finishing series. So again, I attempted to reign in the wild horses. The cycle continued. I lay down to rest for a brief savasana but rest didn’t come. I walked home, chanting and ruminating.
Another day, another whirl, another chance to practice. So, my practice wasn’t great today. Oh well. At least for a few brief moments I was able to stop the negative downward spirals by remembering the wisdom of the Yoga Sutra. That was the best I had today. I accept that this was my practice today. I acknowledge that this is OK….for where I am right now. And tomorrow? I will try to be better. I must be accepting, yet not become complacent. Understanding that this is me today, but not resigning myself to always be like this. There’s a balance. It’s OK but it’s also NOT OK. Criticizing my practice does not mean I reject self-love and self-acceptance, as some people might believe, but rather, it’s part of my self-love. Because I honor myself and believe in myself I know that I can do better, be more devoted and disciplined and practice with more integrity….and so I will.