Monday, August 31, 2009

Yoga: A Change in Perspective

Sometimes, when we least expect it, we surprise ourselves.

I had a bad weekend.  It was the kind of weekend where Murphy's Law is in full effect and you want to hide in your bed until Monday morning.  You find yourself begging to go back to work just so your mind can be taken off of things.  In this case, I also had a giant lump in my chest, from being stressed out and upset, that felt like it might never go away.  

Even though I didn't want to leave the house, I forced myself to go to yoga yesterday.  I set an intention of just staying present and paying attention to my breath.  There were only a few students so we had a lot of room to move, experiment and play.  It was the most challenging class I have ever taken, partially because it was physically difficult and partially because every time we did hip work I wanted to break down into tears.  But I tried to remember my intention and stick with it.  And it paid off.

At the end of class, the teacher insisted we all at least try to do a few of the more challenging poses: HanumanasanaBird of Paradise, Crow and forearm stand.  Now I can do Crow (though it is admittedly difficult for me and I sometimes fall out), I can only do the prep work for Bird of Paradise, my split was a little wobbly and, other than Shoulder Stand, I have never ever come up into an inversion because they absolutely terrify me.  

You know what they say about how from rock bottom there is nowhere to go but up?  


So up I went.  I did that forearm stand in the middle of the room without falling over for the first time ever.  I'm still not sure I liked it very much or that I will ever be able to do it again but I know that in that moment I needed it.  My body craved a change in perspective, literal and figurative, and after I came out of the pose, the lump in my chest was gone.  Going into the class with no expectations allowed me to go further than I ever had before.

The teacher joked that we might not be able to walk tomorrow after what she put us through. She might be right but I am so glad.  I needed to use my body to work through the emotional stuff.  I left class feeling lighter, happier and more capable.

The healing power of yoga never ceases to amaze me.

{Image credit: Fit Sugar}


Melita said...

congrats! that is so exciting! i know how i feel when i get into a new asana. i think you are right, it was exactly what you needed to turn some of the bad things from your weekend around. i wish you much luck for a productive week. hugs!!

Shannon said...

i love this! i've had a few yoga moments like this myself recently...hitting something challenging when you felt like you weren't there, and surprising yourself. congrats on the forearm headstand!

Ellecubed said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience.

Carolyn said...

Thank you for this post, Lauren. I've totally been neglecting yoga lately and can feel the effects both physically and emotionally. Your beautiful experience is just what I needed as a reminder of the power of yoga.

Anonymous said...

Bird of Paradise is such a graceful pose. I haven’t been able to do it yet myself. Leeann Carey, an amazing teacher, has a great free yoga video on this pose. Thought your readers might want to check it out: