Last night I took the most backbending, inverted, arm balancing class I’ve EVER experienced. Except, I didn’t do any of the poses. As everyone else bent backwards and turned upside-down and surged with energy around me, I forward folded. Over a bolster. With a head wrap covering my eyes.
I felt like the still point at the center of a turning wheel… the peace of my forward folds gave stability to the other students’ vigorous fall-backs… like the stone that the river runs over…
I was bored.
I had a headache and cramps.
I didn’t want to be still. I wanted to be somewhere else.
I wanted to be doing what everyone else was doing.
Two hours of this. One restorative forward fold after another. (Yes, I usually love restorative poses. No, I really didn’t love them yesterday.) I listened (and occasionally peeked to see the demonstrations) to the complicated instructions and exclamations of engaged students doing Astavrakasana (8-angle pose), Bakasana (crane pose), and Eka Pada Koundiyasana I & II (pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya).
(By the way, one of my readers asked me to start including the common names for poses as well as the Sanskrit… I’ll try, but for some of these you won’t see so often in most yoga classes, so you may want to click on the links for a look at ’em.)
Everyone sweat and worked around me. I sighed and sank deeper towards the bolster. Eventually my headache went away. And, even more, I found it a solid practice.
To not be able to participate with the group. To practice staying in my own experience, even if it’s completely different from everything happening around me. To stay even when my mind is turning and wanting something else. To simply stay with my body’s needs and what IS happening now. Restlessness, aversion, grasping, doubt… these hindrances were there.
Why did I even go to class yesterday? Because I knew I’d learn something. It’s often a mystery and a surprise what the true lesson will be, and yesterday this was it. Not the practice I wanted, but this was the practice I needed.
So I recommend it, when what your body needs is different than what’s offered or what everyone else is doing. Go to a yoga class and do your own practice. Embody what’s here.
(Caveat: If possible, check in with the teacher about what’s going on with you first. Ask for help if you need it for alternatives and modifications, especially if it’s a teacher who doesn’t know you already. And PS. Here’s part of yesterday’s menstrual sequence, for you.)