Lying down to let go

I finally got back to yoga this weekend. It’s been two weeks off with Easter break and a transition between sessions of classes. Holy Om! was I glad to be back.

My ass has been really sore this last week. I think it’s from racing a half marathon a few weeks ago and continuing with my same mileage the week after and just feeling cooked. I did my usual stretching and strength training, but maybe not enough. And, I realized, I also did no yoga. You don’t know how good something is for you until you don’t do it.

I went to my chiropractor last week because I could barely sit down. He poked and prodded and stretched and sweated and said it was probably my sciatic nerve. I took 4 days off running but went to yoga.

The teacher talked about how for the first 10 years she practiced yoga she was always trying to “do” something. She wanted her yoga to be active and she wanted results. She suggested to us that once we got into the pose, to just let our bodies be as they are, however they look and however inflexible they are. She suggested we just let go and surrender.

yogamat

I am pretty flexible naturally, so I expect more from myself when it comes to yoga. I’m not pushing myself into painful contortions, but I do want to be able to push myself to make changes. But when I say that, I don’t really know what it means: Β I want things to be forceful and I want things to be definite. I want the chiropractor to crack my back and things to feel better all over.

I got into my next pose and tried to relax. I was breathing, I relaxed my jaw, my neck, my tailbone, and my shoulders. But for the life of me I could not let go. I knew I was hanging on and trying to make things be a certain way. I could feel my teeth aching with my effort.

Letting go is not easy. It was hard for me to take 4 days off running. I was glad for the break, but panicking thinking I wasn’t running and working on getting faster. “No pain, no gain,” right? But it was more painful to run and I could see no gains. So, in the arms of misery and on my Coach’s advice, I could let go and give those runs a pass.

It is hard to not have expectations, or judgments, or wants. It is hard to not try to make things be a certain way, even if we know that it’s not what is best for us. It is hard to stay in the Present moment and be with it.

Yoga postures Shavasana

Yoga postures Shavasana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finally, at the end of yoga we were in corpse pose (lying down) and I felt myself surrender. Doing yoga with intention means we even lie down with purpose.

I felt grounded and connected and relaxed. My body was comfortable and I could envelope this state. I did not have to “do”. My teeth did not ache. For that moment, I knew how to lie down and let things be.

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37 thoughts on “Lying down to let go

  1. As a new addict to Bikram Yoga (and a long time T’ai Chi fan); I can relate to your love of the activity. It’s so hard to just let go and be still and do less to get more. Being slow in postures is a challenge than just ‘getting there’ – in T’ai Chi, it’s all about just do it and repeat it. Slow set a bit off? No worries – just do it again. Then again. We learned about people that spend YEARS on one pose – YEARS. Active & mindful meditation is my favorite – it helps me clear my mind by focusing on what the body is saying – and that leads to being able to just be more clear in one’s mind in stressful situations.

    I hope your ass gets better – but enjoy the journey of Yoga and know the road is always there for you to run it when you’re ready. Namaste

    • I’m really enjoying the Yoga. I’ve done yoga on and off for years, but the difference it has made to my running body is significant.
      The fluidity and mindfulness of T’ai Chi has always amazed me. Yes, YEARS on a single pose and yet each time the pose is drawn it is different. Turning “off” your mind to allow your body to speak is a really diff way of functioning. Yoga and T’ai Chi are great examples of this.
      Really liked your last paragraph — “the road is always there for you to run it when you’re ready.” Today in pouring rain perhaps that road awaits.

      • On a similar note – I have a wacky hip (it’s too loose and shifts forwards) so I’m dealing with sciatica pain too – lots of chiro care and careful movement in Yoga – slowly as I (re)build my core – I notice my hip is becoming more stable. It’s crazy how core is really what it’s all about (for me) and makes all my other movement more fluid and strong. I could not get into a “yoga groove” until I went to hot/Bikram Yoga and it was like a revelation – and an instant addiction. I cannot stop thinking about it πŸ™‚ I’m becoming a bore!

      • As a runner, core is hyper important. I have a whack hip imbalance and always find that when I am strengthening my core (obviously and my hip as well) things start to align and stack up properly and I have a happier body. Being aware of our imbalances is part of the process — I never realized how much I favour one side to compensate for the other. I think my sciatica also comes from neglecting what needs to be done on a regular basis — not just when things hurt.
        Yoga is different for everyone. I’ve actually never done a Bikram class. I do Hatha right now — but I find 90% of it is also the teacher. Sometimes it feels like my brain is challenged just as much as my body. Though, from another perspective, I guess that could be seen as the same thing!
        PS I’m not bored yet.

      • I so agree. A teacher can lead you into a different space or leave you wandering in misery. Yoga can be very personal so the person leading it should fit your own “style” as well.

  2. If you do yoga correctly (I’m talking about intent vs technique) I think it’s very easy to quiet the mind and let go. My brain is on overload pretty much all day, but I find that allowing yoga to become a part of me has really helped center me. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it.

    • I think this is like the mind-body connection. If you can separate your brain from your expectations on your body, it’s totally blissful.
      It definitely has a lot to do with intent — as does most of life, I guess.

  3. The great thing about yoga is it forces you to listen to your body. Some days you can easily do poses you thought you’d never be able to, and other days, even the easiest poses can be a challenge. Kind of like life in general, I guess.

  4. I am journeying (trying) my way back to a yoga practice. A many many years ago I did yoga (@ home) a minimum of once a day for 2yrs straight. Why is it so hard to do what you know in everycorner of your being is what you need to do? Especially when I will be hitting 2 birds with 1 stone! Right now I’m barely keeping my head (& heart) above my bp & fibrom…

    • I think somehow our DNA thinks that if things aren’t hard we are doing it wrong. I think we sometimes need to give ourselves permission to make the time to take care of ourselves. It’s so amazing that you did yoga (and on your own, at that) for 2 years!

  5. I find, when I am able to attend my Wednesday evening ballet technique class that I do better when I stop trying to hard. When I stop thinking so hard, and just allow my body to absorb the choreography I do so much better but when I, like you, feel my teeth clenching from trying so hard, the entire class is a failure. I try to tell myself, before entering the studio to just chill and do the best i can… sometimes I succeed other times, I’m dancing with my brain (which is a bad thing). 😐

    • It’s something about the body knowing what to do but the brain not allowing it. Choreography would be especially tricky because our brain wants so much to do it right. You can’t just pirouette when everyone else is doing grande jetes! I find this with running as well — if I just allow my body to run, I’m fine. When I am *thinking* about running, I am slower, use more energy, and have less fun.

  6. You inspire me to pick up yoga. I’ve done some random beginning yoga classes and have always felt so good after. Why is it so hard for me to do something good for myself? (rhetorical question, right there:))

    • We make it very difficult to enjoy ourselves, even when we KNOW we enjoy ourselves. Maybe it’s about not suffering or things not being hard enough to get a reward… or something. πŸ˜‰
      Thanks for your comments.

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