I never thought that gaining 20 lbs would result in a breakthrough in my yoga practice. Yet, through my thinly stretched Wunder Unders, that’s what has happened.
2018 has been one of the roughest of my 38 years. Emotionally abused at work, hip surgery, shoulder injury, my mother had cancer (She’s all good now!) & let go from my job for standing up for myself…..There’s been a lot of therapy. Between the injuries and my personal state, pound by pound I suddenly realized i had been away from the work for a long time. Months in fact. Whatever yoga bullshit I wanted to imply here, it all boils down to one thing.
My pants don’t fit. Like not even close.
I never had any doubt this would affect my practice. (Yes, that is the right affect/effect) I weigh more than I have in the past 7 years & lost most of my strength. I look at once tight, toned arms and now only see saggy bat wings. My belly which had been formed into a tight 6 pack only a year previous, now spills over the lip of my pants when I sit down, as if it’s going “meeeeehhh” as it descends over the stitching.
My first practice back I stood at the top of my mat, pressed my thumbs into my chest and let out my “Ooooooohhmm” I had mentally prepared for this before I even stepped into my car to come to the studio. “This isn’t going to look or feel anything like it did before. No expectations. Just make it through, that’s all”
And that’s all I could do.
Almost every Chaturanga I did my knees were on the ground, I even skipped some all together. No Flip Dog, took Gate Pose instead of Side Plank. My knee was on the ground in Crescent Lunge and my hips high in Chair Pose. But none of my mental prepping set me up for standing series.
Jana called the 4th pose on one leg, Standing Splits. It wasn’t the regular burning or trembling I know from a challenging class. This was out and out shaking. I remember thinking “Jana must think I’m having a seizure” I was shaking so hard, it was throwing off my balance. I had to regroup multiple times; firm up my legs, ground down my hands and my foot, pull my pot belly in and back off a bit just so I could stay. That was my only goal; just stay the entire pose, however that may look.
Jana’s voice calls out “Fold”
Mission accomplished! I collapse down into my fold, grateful knowing a Runner's Lunge is next and I get a little regroup time.
After class, I drove home, glad my first practice was out of the way, now I know what I’m working with. Not a whole lot of strength, I mean really almost none if I’m being honest. But something else was there. Something I haven't felt in a long time on my mat.
With the physical inability to do all of the things I did without a thought before, I now have to be in constant inquiry in every asana.
Can I do Side Plank today? At first, Hard Nope. But I ask my body every time I practiced. Soon it became possible for a couple breaths, now I can hold for a good 4 breaths if I stagger my feet.
Can I do Side Plank AND Flip Dog in the same practice? Haven't gotten there yet, but it’s good to have goals!
I had a huge breakthrough just this past week. For the first time since hip surgery I sat in Malasana without a block under my tush, for Five Whole Breaths!! It took me about 20 breaths to get of it..., But I did it!
I even have to ask myself about my fat rolls. With only a select number of my clothes able to accommodate the circumference of my body, I’ve been letting my fitted workout shirts fill the back of my drawers and opting for loose cotton ones. Pro: they fit. Con: They move in every asana, mostly up, revealing my Buddha belly or nice chunk of side fat. When it happens I have to decide: am I going to choose to let my ego take me out of my practice and pull my shirt back down? Or am I going to accept that no one gives a fuck about my fat roll and stay in the work?
Ya, most of time I fix my shirt.
But every once in a while, I make myself let it be. It’s uncomfortable and makes me deal with the shame I have around my body. It’s always a happy/sad moment and I’m grateful every time I choose to experience it.
And that’s the thing. I am now choosing the experiences I have.
I’ve been practicing for, what now, about 8 years. Since I began a yoga, this break from April to October has been the longest time I’ve been away from a regular practice. I have lost the ability to mindlessly power through. I must choose every movement I take. With the gift of choice came Presence. I’ve haven’t been this present in years.
Am I sad that I had to let it go? Yes.
Do I think I would have gotten here without doing so? Absolutely not.
I’m present to the fact that without this long break, without the hurt and walking away, I wouldn’t have come to this place. I’m now moving from a stronger base and intentional actions. I’m not doing things simply because it’s what I’ve always done. I’m choosing what feels right Now. What held true for me before no longer does so, I’ve learned to let that be ok and figure out another way. Let it look and feel different, instead of barreling through, no matter the cost.
Now I get to choose how to move forward, choose to acknowledge what I’m feeling and choose how to respond. This place feels grounded, authentic and far more connected.
And the added bonus? When I choose on my mat, it burns calories. ;)
Blog by Sarah Esposito