Meeting Myself On The Mat

So, how long have I complained about not having the physical space to do any sort of Yoga while living in this house?
Y-e-a-r-s.
I know.
Until I took the Yoga.Write.Now Yoga and The Art Of Love course. This is not the first course I had seen available from YWN. The first one lit me up, but the fire didn’t stay, so I knew it wasn’t for me. The Art of Love course they offered next—I didn’t even think twice—I just signed up for it.
Writing? And Yoga? Can there be a better combination for me right now? Fine—throw in some paint and maybe some yarn…and I am good to go.
Then funny thing is, other than watching the Yoga videos, I did not do any Yoga with this class. I did the first writing exercises, but then there came to one that required you dredge up the past—and I had to pass on that one. Not because I don’t have a past, or I don’t have issues caused by the past—my problem is—I don’t hold on to that stuff. Ingrained behavior that happens by instinct—yes…but writing a letter to someone who hurt me in the past—and being angry about what they did—I don’t have the capacity to do that…I don’t hang on to it. I am not the type to stalk my exes…because once it is done, it’s over and I move on. I don’t hold on to hurts—but then again, I don’t hold on to anything. I don’t have prized precious happy memories either. I am one of those unique people that when you put me in jail (and yes, for three days, and yes, this bore true then as well, even knowing I was getting out in three days…) I wither and die…no matter what you say. After day 1, I stopped eating all the meals, because I slept through them…and I did not miss them. I see what is right here, right now…I have that unique and dastardly tunnel vision…so when I get stuck in something—I get stuck…so when it came to the exercise where you resurrect your past and have a go at it—I didn’t have anything to have a go with or at…and I was fine with that.
So—for someone who didn’t really do the classwork, or the matwork…why was this class such a positive experience for me?And trust me, it was…
The reason is two-fold. During that very first Yoga video, I was introduced to a concept that even in my three+ hours per day Yoga practice from years ago I hid from…the whole the teacher does not know best for your body—you do…
The teacher does Not know best for me…gasp…shudder…oh, well, duh, yeah, I knew that already.  Now I am allowed to say it, admit it, and actually believe it.
You can do what is best for you, even in a class, not just home alone. If you want to spiral back in triangle pose because that is what your body asks for—do it, whether the teacher leads you in that direction or not.  Wow.
That alone allowed me to reconsider things that I had held sacrosanct for quite awhile. It gave me permission, me, coming from an Iyengar background, where alignment is key, to wiggle, wriggle, shimmy, shake and not have perfect perfect alignment every single time…wow. Thank you, ladies, for that one. It has been a game changer, a life changer.
The other thing that happened is…my brain started to work overtime…if I am able to move into and out of positions without all that other stuff (perfect alignment, etc etc) – then what can I do with the space that I have?
And then…Sun Salutations began to come to mind…now, in the past, I did some serious and extended Sun Salutes, incorporating Warrior series, and all sorts of other things…but…when you look up a simple Sun Salutation…it is very simple, roughly eight or nine positions. It does not require a lot of space.
And then…Mark Whitwell, and his book Yoga of Heart, came to mind. I had seen a Yoga video of his years ago. In this video, which was a recording of a class he taught somewhere, he was teaching breathwork while raising arms over head…and then into dogward dog…and he said, somewhere between these two poses, something along the lines of if this is all you do every day, breath in and raise your arms over your head, breath out and lower your arms…then that is really all you need to do—and please, I am paraphrasing here, probably horribly, but this is what stuck with me…that connecting the breath , the movement and the body with the mind…that is the important part and that is all you need every day…
With my back issues, I need a lot more than a basic Sun Salute…and I have a ‘normal’ core routine that I have done for years…but then I hit that wall of – not enough physical space…
So I had to let go…let go of the need to do certain movements in certain ways…I had to let go of being able to move the way I need to move…I had to let go of expecting to get into the deeper aspects of Yoga on the mat, because there is no way my toddler will allow me to breathe without his assistance—ever since his yellow jacket attack he is a bit more determined to be physically closer all of the time—this is a phase—I understand it and I am ok with it.  He’s only three and he is allowed to take his time to work through what he needs to work through.
Eventually, during this course, I began to pull out my poor abused Yoga mat…in the month or so that I have been back on my mat, the dogs have wrestled on my mat, plus the toddler loves to take the mat out and use it as a blanket—I have a second mat just like this one…but, alas, I know not whence it has gone…it’s lost in the basement vortex, is my guess.
Anyway…I meet myself on my mat. Sometimes for five minutes. Sometimes for fifteen minutes. I do what I can. There is no quieting of the monkey mind—because my little monkey (toddler) literally spins circles around me the entire time I am on the mat—most days. He has a knack of clobbering me when I least expect it (this is a show of affection—talk to his father about it) – he has actually knocked me over while circling (on accident), especially in a warrior pose or in triangle pose—and he has done it when I knew he was there and knew what he was doing and I was watching and being careful…he will sometimes do the poses with me, which can be nice…many many mornings my practice is overtaken with a vigorous round of airplane—which, believe it or not, my back genuinely appreciates most of the time—the only issue with airplane—other than once that starts there is no more Yoga for the day—is the boy gets up on my feet and begins to (literally) spin around by throwing himself all over the place…he starts with his head towards my head—then his head towards my feet…then he jumbles up and down my legs…giggling like a madman and expecting me to catch his silly self every time—and thus far, I have…although there have been times too when I have regretted it (as in I overstretched my back, or twisted my arm or something…) but he has a blast…and thankfully we do not have to do that every day.
Many is the day I show up to my mat…and I do nothing but cry…there is still a limited space…I have to move things in order to have the scant room necessary for my mat…much less for my own body…and there are days when the toddler runs into the room, I get hit with the door when he opens it (I told you, not enough room—not joking here) – he starts demanding I come sit with him (I can only handle so much Team Umizoomi or Bubble Guppies…really) – he starts demanding we find his sister who is constantly “lost” (if he can’t find you—you are lost…) … there are days when I beg for five minutes…just five minutes…to just lay on the floor with my feet up the wall so I can breathe and relax…toddlers have no mercy…well, sometimes he does…but some days if I ask him for anything I get an well-thought-out reasonable argument—that goes on and on and on…and he needs you to look at him, look him in the eye, when he is conversing with you…because, well, who wouldn’t?
Yoga in this manner—with all these constraints, conscriptions, delays, agonies, assistance, hugs, love taps and bouts of airplane—it’s not what I would have expected.
However, the benefits of this practice—even on those days when I literally spend more time begging to just stretch out for one minute than actually doing anything—far outweigh not doing it.
For one thing, eventually, my toddler will feel safe again. (He stepped into a yellow jacket nest on his birthday party in early August.) Eventually, he will understand that I need this time and that I am not lost, I am not running away, and maybe just maybe, he will work through a routine with me.
Eventually, we will move to another house, a bigger house, with more room for everything, much less my Yoga practice. One day, I will be able to do my own full Yoga routine again, where I can stretch out in any direction whenever I need to do so.
Eventually, lots of things will shift and change and improve. I know this.
Right now, despite all the stress and the strain and the – toddler-dom I undergo every morning in order to meet myself on my mat—I am feeling calmer, softer, more like me. My body is opening up to me a little tiny bit—she and I have stopped talking in the past four-five years…and we are still not on good terms…the chronic pains are loosening up a bit here and there…not that new ones don’t appear, not that old ones don’t reassert themselves periodically…but I have a space now inside my heart that I can step into so that I can breathe into that pain and breathe through it—even if it is not the breathwork I once did…even if there are lots of stops and starts…even when I can only move stuff, open my mat, sob a minute or two, and then fold the mat up…I am meeting myself there…I am trying…I am holding out my hand to the part of me I used to love deeply and fiercely and I am holding on to that part…while allowing new parts of the person I want to be to open—albeit slowly and fearfully.
There is still a lot of work for me to do, on and off the mat.
All I can say is at least I am showing up. Every day.

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