My ongoing ordeal with my psoas muscle has led to some deep thinking–I wound up being pretty much house bound and unable to do more than some very light yoga and as little walking as possible so I had lots of time for thinking!–and noticing and learning. As I’ve slowly worked my way back to exercises I’ve had to readjust a lot of my yoga poses.
In an earlier post I mentioned that in the years of bodywork that have accompanied my yoga practice I’ve often had to readjust my balance in a lot of poses to accommodate the change in my body. There are also a few poses, like the wheel, above, that I loved and lost the ability to do as issues with my wrists worsened over time.
Well, the sudden giant openings in my psoas have not only forced a large portion of that muscle to say hello to the world but also a lot of small muscles in that area that have been hanging out in a stupor while the steely cable of twisted up psoas held all the strength for the area. The repercussions have been moving through my entire left hip and low left back area and down into my left ankle and foot. When I practice yoga now I can’t go nearly as far into many poses as I once did with ease. I have to pay close attention as I perform asanas and make sure that I’m stopping at my new (and regularly changing) normal.
Some big lessons have been blinking at me through all this:
- Be careful what you wish for–or maybe learn patience better?
I’ve been chafing at the slow progress of all this body stuff and in recent months I’ve not only begged the universe to help this move along faster, I also upped some yoga practices that focus on the psoas big time. So I asked for it and I got it–a big giant release of a whole lot at once. My guides have told me in meditation many times that there’s reason to the slowness given the severity of the problems with every muscle in my body and this result is the kind of thing they’ve warned me about. But did I listen? No, I begged for more and faster and whoa boy did I get it!
Now obviously there’s an up side in all these lessons, etc. plus the joy of feeling the openness in the psoas where once there was a steely lump but I also get the lesson that I could have had it without the horrible pain and the two weeks of being mostly house bound and lying down…
- Stay in the moment
I think of myself as being mindful when I practice but when forced to slow down and pay close attention I realized that I’m often not as mindful as I should be. For instance, I had to return to an easy version of locust pose in which you alternate lifting each leg up and down. I’ve been aware that I often move faster than my dvd on that one. During this time of a slower, more careful version of me I realized that I’ve been staying clenched at the end of each one in preparation for the next instead of releasing all the way as I exhale. That one small shift made a big difference in the feel of the movement and suddenly I was a little slower than Ana (Brett who demonstrates)…
When I forge ahead with speed and impatience I don’t pay as much attention to those little details. Besides the fact that they enhance the practice of yoga, the practice of slowing down and staying mindful helps maintain that calm, serene centered place. And, well, it helps me to become more mindful.
- Remember to be a beginner
Some Buddhist teachings make a point of the importance of maintaining “beginner’s mind”. In others words don’t let years of experience make you feel so cocky that you think you have nothing left to learn. I try to stay open to the possibility of learning something new and I periodically learn a new form of yoga or make a point of picking out a new posture to learn from something like Yoga Journal. But my struggles in recent weeks with doing postures I “mastered” long ago have been humbling.
I can remember enough about my early days in Bill Hunt’s classes that I was very aware that I couldn’t go into some postures as well as I could when I started in July of 1986 and that in many more I fell years behind where I had been. The good news is that 27 years of yoga has given my muscles pretty good memory so now that the psoas is allowing me to do more each day I’m already moving back to where I was. Still the change in my muscles is requiring some re-calibration yet again in how I balance.
Transformation tends to sound always like a great thing and there often seems to be an assumption that any move you’re making toward better health or greater spiritual harmony is going to be an easy thing. Sometimes it is, but often change means that parts of your body or parts of your life — like people who may not want to readjust to the new you– have to shift to accommodate the new you and sometimes there’s pain and struggle before the easy place arrives. I don’t think that gets mentioned enough.
I keep having to learn that Divine Time is often not the same as My Time and that patience thing crops up often for me. I’ve gotten kind of used to having to sway with the winds of change as I’ve been transforming my life for 28 years now but I don’t always enjoy the pain…