*one of my favorite ways to feel sensation these days: warrior two with a forward fold, keeping the right knee from falling inwards.
Forced to my knees
I haven’t been able to practice much for weeks now. The first trimester of pregnancy is a bitch. I’m sorry, there’s no other way to say it. At least, it seems to be for me. Morning sickness, also known as nausea that lasts all day, coupled with fatigue have forced me to my knees. But there’s a silver lining. Because after more than one year of working non-stop and rarely taking a breather, I was finally forced to slow down.
Having reached week fourteen, the other day I was finally able to practice for a luxurious half hour. I enjoyed the feeling of stretching my muscles after a prolonged period of forced Savasana (corpse pose). I could feel my connective tissue creaking like a door that hasn’t been opened in a while.
I thought to myself: Where have I been? And I didn’t mean these last weeks of low blood pressure and retching. I was thinking of all these months of throwing my work-life-balance to the winds. How many times have I just rushed through poses, hardly able to stay for five breaths? How many times have I practiced just to get it over with? How many times have I been physically in a pose but elsewhere with my thoughts?
There are times when I doubt that yoga can still capture my attention: Maybe I should find something else to do recreationally. Teaching yoga is what I do for a living. It’s almost everywhere, every waking moment. Maybe I need something new in order to be fully absorbed by it.
It’s about the experience within
But one of my teachers often used to say: Don’t go horizontal, go vertical. When you think you’ve seen it all, don’t look around you, go deeper. I was reminded of his words during this first practice after some time. Even though my son was playing next to me and chattering away, I was in it, not next to it. I was immersed in the experience. I enjoyed every breath, even if the poses were strenuous after this time of lethargy.
I’m amazed that this could happen to me. Most yogis are sensation junkies, and I’m no exception. We love to experience the stretch, the pull, the opening. Letting ourselves feel sensation has the power to stop the thoughts from going in circles. It’s the most recreative thing. I’m surprised that I’ve lost touch with that. And it’s not the first time either.
Even though I came to yoga after twenty years of dancing and already had the coordination and flexibility, it was still a challenge. I had to work hard on building core and upper body strength and stability. Yoga is quiet, sutble work. I learned to focus on the inner workings of the body and mind. Learning to truly listen was a revelation to me.
And because it was so life-changing, I am surprised that connecting with the body can sometimes move into the background. Especially when I have always advocated that yoga is about the experience on the inside, not about getting better and bendier on the outside.
Why do we lose sight of the experience?
Something tells me that this can happen to all of us. Sometimes we turn into a yoga-robot and just go through the motions. We all lead busy lives or become lazy or distracted. It is easy for our yoga practice to become just another item to check off on our to do list.
For most of this year I was working non-stop and feeling weighed down by responsibility. Because yoga is what I do for a living I had to do a little bit, just to prep for classes. But my heart wasn’t in it. Which now feels like a loss. Responsibility takes away from creativity or simply from the experience.
So I find myself being grateful for the nausea and my limbs that feel like lead. In a way, it was lucky there was something to slow me down. Now I can take in the world again. Particularly the microcosm that helps me cope with the macrocosm around me.