Thursday, March 12, 2009

Body Betrayal?

Some days I feel like my body is betraying me. Over my life I have had bilateral dislocated shoulders, over stretched hip ligaments, a broken talus, I was en pointe for 6 years and on a punishing gymnastic schedule for quite a few years in my youth. I have deep aching in my feet when they hit the ground in the morning, there are days when my back makes me want to scream and I carry a fun little c-section tummy that still does not have full sensation restored and gets in the way all the time. As a physical therapist, I know too much about where these things might lead me as I grow older inside this body.

I do yoga three times a week right now. I started yoga at 10 when my father deemed that we as a family would wake at 5 a.m. and practice the routines from this book in the semi-dawn light. We groaned and bitched but he laid a foundation for me, the foundation of life long health. I no longer dance en pointe, no longer can do a back flip, no longer have the luxury of accessing modern dance classes always based in L.A. But I can still practice yoga.
Joining In

I practice yoga to heal, I practice to challenge, I practice for both internal and external strength.
52 Weeks :: Her :: Nine

It is a struggle sometimes to make myself go, the Tuesday and Thursday classes are later in the evening, post bed time routine. But for this year, I have made the commitment to be committed when I am there.

I get really discouraged sometimes. I practice in a level 2/3 class, the same instructor for four years. I watch as she advances in her practice and sometimes I feel so stagnant. I see the girl next to me that weighs 100# soaking wet flow through class. I watch my bendy advanced neighbors with a combination of envy and awe. I know I am not supposed to, but whatever, I am human. Some of them achieve every position, every arm balance, every bind, as I struggle to wrap arms, clasp hands, ignore folds of skin preventing full bends. I know it is not yoga mind, but sometimes I just want to cry. I slip into the mind set that I cannot improve inside this body that I have.

I think I know why my practice stalled. It is because I did. I have made other things more important than the time I am spending there. I allot the time reluctantly, gauging the moments until class ends, leaving a bit early to reclaim non-yoga time. But I want to tell myself, no more. I will be present and whole for class, otherwise, what exactly is the point?

My body is so very different now, so much less accessible in so many ways. I do not want this to be my relationship with it, I do not want to feel betrayed by it. Part of me feels like I could never take a stage again, present it in any way that others could actually see it. Believe me, this is an ongoing thing with me and my body and I know I am not alone.

I am writing this down to see it in print. A reminder that I need to be a part of it and accept myself, body parts and all. And that yoga can be a wonderful path to get there and that it really won’t kill me if I can never fully achieve Marichyasana. Well, it won’t kill me, but I think I do have to make a goal to lose enough weight to get back to that pose.
Park Yoga

And to give myself maybe a bit more kindness and acceptance for the things I can do. Like bend.

I started taking a few self portraits in yoga positions and I am finding it a really good practice. It helps me to 'see' where my body is in the poses, sometimes it is very different than I 'feel' in the poses. I am thinking I will take pictures regularly to remind and record my progress (or lack there of) in the next few months. Maybe not in Chucks and jeans from now on....a little limiting to flexibility.


Lola and Ava said...

Eagle? Hate it. Triangle? Love it. A full sun salute? Mind blowingly centering. Arm balances? Surely you must be joking. My inversions suck (I once uttered, "My boobs are trying to smother me," in a class . . . very laid back teacher). It was very hard to watch my daughters bend and twist into some of the poses that I struggled to get even close with using a strap, but some came very easily. Thanks for reminding me that I need to return to yoga since I never felt as good as I did while practicing.

LauraC said...

I think my favorite pose in this series is the one with your little man between your legs.

Because the reason you are not as practiced as others is because you needed to become other things these past years. You needed that mental and physical energy to grow two beautiful beings and grow yourself into a mother.

Somewhere around when my boys turned two was when I felt ready to reclaim large pieces of me I needed to put aside to work on my mothering journey.

Shannon said...

I love your post. It is the perfect self reflection and has a great tone. I think you will definitely find a new found love and the results you want with an attitude adjustment. It is always up to me and my attitude how the days go with two babies.

Shannon said...

Oh, and you are inspiring me to try yoga again... Not that I will, but the inspiration feeling is nice while it lasts. lol

Maggie May said...

oh i love this post. i did yoga every morning for a long time, to deal with my panic attacks that were debilitating at the time. it worked. yoga is amazing...the discipline to do it regularly is what i lack. i love your pictures!

jillian said...

You'll get there! I am impressed at all the things your body has done - twins, a backflip, en pointe?? Wow.

What I would give to forward bend like that. Even when I was practicing yoga very regularly, I could never bend forward very much. It looks so comfortable and relaxing. Darn short hamstrings.

Katie said...

oh, I really know what you mean about feeling stagnant at times. I never go as much as I would like. I really like your idea of the self portraits in the poses. The studio I go to doesn't have any mirrors, and it might do me good to see where I'm really at in the poses. thanks for the inspiration!

t + j said...

great post mames. i've been a yoga devotee, but not since the boys were born. it makes me sad and i keep looking for ways to bring it back into my life. i've always struggled with comparing myself to others. being a competitive gymnast (and competitive in general), i'm hardwired that way. i was surprised and delighted last week when i busted out my forrest yoga DVD and found such joy and peace and humility in doing a solo practice. as much as I LOVE doing group yoga, it was a pleasant surprise to discover this place where i can just do and be without having to think about anyone else. i could connect internal and external in a much easier and meaningful way. i hope, hope, hope i can find the strength to make this more of a practice in my life.

Anonymous said...

I tried yoga but had a crappy teacher, I stil want to do it, maybe after baby #2 I'll try again, I enjoy reading about you and others doing it, inspiring for sure. Love the story about your dad.

emilee said...

Wow! I did bikram yoga for a month or so, but then I was a bit late and the yoga instructor said I disrupted the ENTIRE class, said I couldn't leave...and I cried the whole hour and half in the HOT room laying on my back because I was shaking with embarrassment the whole time. I think it's like 115 degrees? I can't remember, since then I'm WAY too scared to ever go back. I'm just too sensitive. I wish I never had my experience ruined. Maybe I should do some simple moves again though...I really did love it.

Bea said...

Wow, those bends are REALLY impressive, I still can't get my palms on the floor in forward bend, but I can touch my toes now! I'm so glad I discovered yoga, it's been so great for me mentally, and physically..