I had (what felt like) the worst day today. Of course, it wasn’t really, but with the crappy weather, the fact that the roads and sidewalks were a mess and that I still had to make my way to campus to do my job, and the fact that the city I live in is overrun with too many people on a good day, when there isn’t several inches of snow on the ground making life much more difficult thatn it should be, it felt like it was just a struggle to make it through. When I made it home this evening, I felt like I had two choices: sit and stew in my crummy mood, or try to move past it in a productive way.
I chose the latter!
Lately I’ve been experimenting with yoga podcasts and audio sessions from yogadownload, and I’ve found that I really, really enjoy them. All you need is your mat and a computer, or ipod (or other mp3 device) hooked up to speakers. Yogadownload has a selection of free twenty-minute sessions available as podcasts which you can access either through itunes or on their website. Additionally, there is a huge variety of classes you can buy–they are super cheap, far less expensive than going to a class! I downloaded two sixty-minute sessions today and the price of both of them together was around $12, less than the cost of a single drop-in class at any yoga studio I’ve ever heard of.
After searching through yogadownload’s offerings, I chose a 60-minute Lunar Flow practice, designed to help you unwind from a stressful day or just prepare for restful sleep. It could not have been a better choice! Taking that hour to myself and leaving the world behind while moving through hip openers and gentle twisting poses was just what I needed. I finished the practice feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
Most importantly, though, I had a really important realization while practicing. While in head-to-knee pose, the instructor mentioned that if, while in the pose, you were not able to reach your hands to your feet that you could, instead, rest your hands on your ankle, your calf, or your knee. As she put it, “your calf is there for you, your knee is there for you”. For a while now, I have been overwhelmed by body- and appearance-related anxieties; my body is, to me, my worst enemy. I fight with it constantly about how it looks versus how I want it to look, how it feels versus how I want it to feel…just about everything. In short, we don’t seem to get along all that well. But this description of how to modify janu sirsasana gave pause–what if I thought of my body as my friend instead of my enemy? How would things changed if I thought of my calves, or knees, or thighs, or arms as being there for me and working with me rather than taunting me and working against me?
I don’t expect that this one moment will lead to a total turnaround when it comes to me and body issues. They will, like lots of problems, take a long time to resolve, and I know I will continue to struggle with them, even on the best of days. But I can’t help but think that there is a lot of value in taking time out to think of an extraordinary machine my body is. I also wonder how it will affect other parts of my life (my running, for example, which seems fraught under the best of circumstances these days) to think of activity as a way to thank my body and respect it rather than punish it.
I can say at this point with total honesty that I am looking forward to my next workout. This is something I haven’t really been able to say for a long time.