I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for years.  For most of that time my practice came from DVDs and books but when I made the decision to take a time out, one of the things on the top of list to do to do with that time was to take a yoga class.

In most of my practice before I had regarded yoga as a fake it ’til you make it approach to stress reduction:  relax the mind through relaxing the body.  I had often chosen to work DVDs that were challenging, Kristen McGee’s MTV yoga workout is definitely designed for the young and the fit and often my goal was to push and exhaust myself.  In my yoga classes the first thing I had to grasp is that one should not push into a pose one should relax into it and, shocking given the feel the burn attitude to exercise we are so often exposed to, it is supposed to feel good.  The body should lead you to the areas it wants you to work,  if your hips are tight work on your hips, if your shoulders are achy work on those.  Be mindful, take your time, and listen to your body.

My first giant hurdle was just to let go.

For a few weeks I dropped all home practice and just absorbed what I could in classes, when we were encouraged to take up a daily practice I did so but not with the DVDs.   I was incorporating poses that I had learned outside of my classes, the one’s that I enjoyed doing or that I felt familiar with.  I found that my practice could happily go on for an hour or more and I felt relaxed and energised after.  I was loving it.

There was another element Mrs Serious Irving was struggling to grasp though, the concept of play.  It’s something that Jacqueline (my teacher) mentions a lot; the idea that yoga is playing with the body in the same way a child would, just finding our what it can do.   Our homework could be as simple as just sitting on the floor more.  As adults we tend to be very confined, thinking not about what we can do but what we should do, we also tend to be very at odds with our bodies because they don’t look right, or they tire too easy or they want things we can’t or shouldn’t give them.

This morning I was doing a forward bend, legs wide apart, knees bent and head to the floor when out of nowhere I remembered a balancing pose where the thighs rest on the uppers arms and you lift your feet of the floor (hopefully in full extension) and that I might be able to get into it from there.  I managed to lift my feet about two inches off the floor for about two seconds before I fell on my arse laughing.  I followed that up with kundalini repetitions to loosen my back and some very giggly body drops.  Finally I grasped the concept of play.  Having fun with my body,  actually letting go and enjoying it.

And do you know what the best part is?  I had been struggling with a little mid back pain that I felt I needed to twist out somehow but it wouldn’t budge.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, it’s gone.

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