Sunday, December 17, 2006


Last summer yoga practice was brought to me by my peace pal Rollean. He showed me some poses, later encouraged me to try them, we would have brief sessions and did meditate. I felt that the slowness of the process, or the slowness that the process gave me, was something I might need in my rather strangely hectic/peaceful life. So back in my other home, I looked on the internet, checking out what felt good, what classes would allow for my irregular attendance, what the schedules were and so on. I am at the end of my first season of yoga and feel the need to share with what I think I learned. I know the teacher with her trained eye maybe sees different things, this is just an inside view.

The first 4/5 weeks were extremely strenuous: I had to do battle with my self on two levels. First of all being the oldest, and heaviest, clumsiest, with least reading skills of my own body, I felt totally out of place, out of my depth. I heard my parents repeat, “do the baby elephant dance” as a kid. I couldn’t do what others could, felt ridiculous for even trying. After a few weeks, I understood finally, it didn’t matter. Slowly but surely, with up and downs, I learned self-acceptance, yet no longer accepting the baby elephant image of my self. The other battle to be waged was that I didn’t understand the instructions. Open the sole (the soul) of your foot, spread your toes. (Actually the last one still has me dumbfounded ☺). I couldn’t figure out how to give the order to my body to do one or the other thing. After an instruction, I would watch others, try to imitate them but had no roadmap to figure out how to get there. So when one day in the Warrior pose I was trying to figure out at home, I suddenly understood the difference of a bend knee and going forward versus going down, that was my first breakthrough in ‘getting it’, of course without being able to do it correctly.

I struggled on, went to Arizona last winter where there too were organized some yoga classes. The teacher was nice, less precise, and less aware of the bodily mechanics I would say… This taught me, to my surprise, that I enjoyed the discipline of my European teacher. Discipline made clearer, to me at least, what the goal was. So after self acceptance and beginning to learn, came the definition of my goal in Yoga: I want to become an mentally strong, formidable, caring and warm real old woman who can still travel the world, jumping on busses, catching trains and walk the long distances in airports, carrying her laptop at 84. I embraced taking care of my self as an abstraction…

Then, work related and going through the cycle of the period of the year in which my husband died, I gained weight whatever I did and was extremely tired… Thanks to the preparations for backward bends, which made me cry three times up to now, I learned something about my fears. I know I project them all into my, indeed vulnerable neck area. My fears have to do with losing control over my own body and life… After the second cry, I accepted that knowledge, acknowledge it and I am dealing with it. This also taught me to trust. When the teacher said I could do something, I was mortally afraid, like walking the tight rope over the Niagara when you have fear of heights. (Actually it was simply hanging in the rope with my neck). But she knew me well enough and had deserved my trust, so slowly, I am learning to accept trusting in general…

The next lesson is one that has been going on for the last 6/7 weeks. I had remarked before that often I would tense up so much, not soften, that I blocked myself totally from doing what my minds eye told me I could actually do. At work once in a while I would feel the tension in my neck or the rest of my body build up and would go out and stand as a rock… breathe, sometimes when nobody was looking becoming a tree… I had to learn ‘surrender’. Not to the teacher outside but to my teacher inside. I didn’t know that person, but in a three-day workshop, I learned that with flexing the foot the muscles harden in your thigh. So there is a point where you can do both without being hard, finally I understood, felt and reached my tows in the forward bend. I enjoyed the feeling and realize, thanks to the workshop that some of the very first steps have been made. Maybe I’ll never learn to be a rock or rustle my leaves in the wind like a tree, maybe I’ll always look like a seriously off kilter, unbalanced warrior, but at least my mind is beginning to see it: Not as an ambition but as a road with may help me become a more integrated person in body, mind and spirit.

Recently I have more energy, hold my tongue when there is no need to speak, don’t have to be the clown all the time, yet can be funny to help others. I feel as if a good possibility has been opened in my life.

Of course I’ll lapse and stumble and cry again, of course the road is long. I hope it is very long for me so that slowly, slowly but surely I can learn a thing or two, and of course I’ll forget all the fundamental lessons and have to relearn…

No comments:

Post a Comment