Can you yoga when you’re not at yoga?
I like to think so.
I’ve been amazed at how self perpetuatingly positive my practice is becoming. With my determination to turn up to the mat, having shaken off the day gives me the energy to face it with strength. By the time I get to my yoga class, there isn’t all that much to shake off anyway. The increased awareness in myself means that the slightest trigger to disrupt my inner peace is simply breathed through.
My old perception of myself, involved steadfastly holding onto the idea that I was a failure. Despite objective evidence to the contrary, I found macroscopic reasons as argument to hold less weight compared to the trivial ways in which I struggled with daily routine. When I’m unhappy, I don’t sleep well, I eat too much, I avoid social contact. And what’s worse, when I’m unhappy, I get anxious about all these things, and I feel paralysed. To me, the only way out would be to fight against my body more – to use the negativity as fuel to drive myself to become someone I hated a little bit less.
I’m becoming the me I’ve always wanted to be, and the process is incredible
And yet, while being utterly unable to hold onto the bigger picture and so focussed on the self destructive minutiae, this in turn meant I lacked every awareness at what I was doing to my whole self. My whole approach to self improvement was a genuine cluster fuck of lack of self regard. It is so hard to step back and realise what you need to be better when you aren’t meeting the arbitrary expectations you set for yourself. In that kind of headspace, everything feels like a sign you’re “not enough”.
Looking after myself has taken years to learn. Practising yoga is not the first step; but that being said, everything else has felt like a warm up to knowing deep down that I’m worth all this “me” time and mantras. I’m still a beginner in every sense, but I’m getting beyond the basics of simply emerging from a class feeling relaxed, and instead transforming my feelings into the most beautifully positive energy I’ve ever felt. It sounds hyperbolic and self absorbed, but I’m becoming the me I’ve always wanted to be, and the process is incredible.
It is so interesting to feel acutely aware of the changes in my breathing in response to the simplest of things – an unexpected red light, dropping my keys, an ill-fitting bra. It started out with the simple reminder in my rush to get to work on time to breathe into every inch of my lungs (side wings!), only to realise that it was the first time to do so all day.
when I breathe into the face of the trivial, it washes right off
At the beginning of the year, I remember turning up to a massage appointment to ease out yet another tension headache and being left with the resounding exclamation of “have you just been breathing in the top of your lungs for the last few months?” by my therapist. The worst part is, I didn’t even realise! Breathing is one of those things I assumed was under perfect autonomic control. It seems I entirely missed my body’s fight or flight reactions to all the little things – warning signs that I didn’t love myself enough to know better – or even worse, care. It is through taking the time to really be with myself that I’ve come to terms with the ridiculously intrinsic links between my thoughts, behaviours and feelings. I’ve held on to so much more than I realised. I’ve relinquished the negativity within myself, and as a consequence, when I breathe in the face of the trivial, it washes right off. I breathe.
I feel where my sit bones are in space. The physical reminders of feeling present makes me realise what I’m holding onto through processing it automatically. My shoulders are up against my neck, my heart is beating fast and my pelvis is tilted at an odd angle. My face can probably be read like a book (I once got told off at ten years old at my new private school for having “too much facial expression … Christabel, the teachers can tell exactly what you’re thinking”) and yet I need to actively process things to realise what a toll my responses to ~noxious~ stimuli are having on me.
I’ve completely gone down the rabbit hole of self discovery. I’m sitting with the ache of what’s to come, and at the same time enjoying what is unfolding before me everyday. I’m tackling the trivial to improve the “whole”, and realising that there is more in me – my mind and my body, than I ever thought possible.