Recently I worked out that I’ve been ‘doing’ Yoga for around 30 odd years. When you state that number I’m pretty sure a lot of people think – wow, she must be able to bend like a pretzel. Well it doesn’t really work like that. I’ve also been an avid book reader for over 50 years and I haven’t read all the books in the world, nor learnt everything there is to learn about anything. So, it’s all about perspective and relevance really.
There’s a woman on our YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) who can bend like a pretzel – just fold beautifully into postures and do it with seeming ease and comfort. She’s also around my age. I cannot always fold with ease and comfort. Some days I can barely crease let alone fold. Other days it all comes with apparent ease. Funny old things our bodies. They intuitively know where they’re at, at any given time and let us know. They whisper to us before they scream and we all need to become aware of the whispers and adjust, stop, or slow down. Our bodies KNOW.
Our bodies are all so different as well, which is the greatest thing to remember. They all contain about the same number of bones etc., and the structure and framework is seemingly the same – however, it’s not. We all have slight differences and those differences can be the one thing that means we can’t fold our chest to our knees, we can’t raise our legs behind our head (though why you’d even want to I’m not really sure) and we can’t lower our heels completely to the floor in Downward Dog.
Does that then mean we’re not doing Yoga? No. If your personal focus is purely on the physical aspects of Yoga (the postures/asanas) then a modified/adjusted pose is still most definitely Yoga. The multitudinous benefits are all there because your body is still receiving the benefits of the physical, and whether you realise it or not, the total body/elemental benefits as well. The ability to go into a pose that you feel should match something you saw on Instagram or the cover of Yoga Journal is totally meaningless, and quite unhelpful.
So, two days ago when I did my own practice, I felt great, my body moved in and out of asana with ease and I was comfortable. My head was in a good place, I felt wonderful. Today, my little autoimmune issue has kicked in, I’m feeling tired, achy, am having trouble with my hips and wondering what sort of practice I can do today. So that whisper has gotten a bit louder and I’ll adjust, modify and be kinder to myself. My body will thank me and we’ll move on.
Yoga is a whole body practice, and why I’ve called my business Elemental, it covers all the elements that make us who we are – cellular, muscular, mental etc.
A chiropractor in Sydney told me over 30 years ago – ‘use it or lose it’ – so there you go. Listen to your body, use it and move it as it needs for the space it’s in today, and you won’t lose it.