We are...creatures of habit. We like comfort and familiarity and that's okay. At the Team Hoyt 5K I saw t shirts that read, "Life begins...At the end of your comfort zone". Every time I run, every time I step onto the yoga mat, I am stepping outside of my comfort zone asking my body to move in new and unfamiliar ways. For almost 5 decades, I led a sedentary life - a body disconnected from mind and spirt. I started running 3 years ago and embarked on a journey of transforming my mind, body and spirit 4 and a half years ago after the diagnosis of post polio syndrome; I've been practicing yoga only since January. Last week, I ventured outside of my comfort zone once again and onto the body work table of David Vendetti for a series of 12 week sessions of KMI - Kinesio Myofascial Integration Therapy. In short - releasing old patterns in my body at the level of the fascia and reintegrating them into new patterns of movement which will result in much less pain and more energy efficient movement. (For more info on KMI visit Tom Myers website
Asking my body to change and transform and to explore new ways of movement and exercise is no small feat. I was
content doing my little workouts at home and going for runs with an eye on increasing speed and distance but was not allowing myself to live in larger spaces both within my body and in the world. And one "Sassy Yogini" got it into her head that she would not stop asking me to come to the mat until one cold day in January on a Sunday morning, I went to Pat Donaher's class at the Beacon Hill Athletic Club. The rest as they say is history - or only the beginning.
At the end of my first session with David he suggested that I was not the same person who walked through the door. He was right. I looked in the mirror and saw a shift but even more importantly, I felt an internal shift. He also said that he wouldn't lie to me and this was going to be a painful process. He said, in essence, that a lot of toxins both physical and emotional will be released during this process. He said I want you to breathe through it.
Fast forward to today's Yoga for Runners class with Sarah Sturges. Many people in the class were injured or dealing with major health concerns. Sarah said that we needed to focus on healing. As we settled into class using breath to bring us into the awareness of our body and as often happens I struggled with taking those first few inhales (despite having warmed up before class doing some of the breathing exercises Pat gave to me in our individual work), Sarah said, "Let your breath work for you." It was as though the Divine spoke through her. Why was I struggling so much on my inhalation? Sarah pointed out that inspiration and respiration both contain the words Spirit in them. For the first time I felt connected to my breath - I mean really connected to my breath and I released the struggle. I realized that the quality of my breath initially was a gasping and holding - no surprise for a survivor of trauma and couple this with weakened muscles from polio you've got a recipe for difficulty breathing. BUT... Let your breath work for you - so elegantly simple but as I said we are creatures of habit and tend to cling to our old way of doing things - until the teacher appears to guide us to a new way and there is that aha moment.
I had such fun in class today. I felt as though I were playing at the beach - an experience I could not experience as a child. The gentle summer breeze was blowing through the Sun Room. (My favorite room at Back Bay Yoga). Sarah set a playful tone for the class today releasing our inner child but acknowledging we were all adults with nothing to do for the next 75 minutes. I loved watching Sarah's movement and I eyed her as she deliberately placed her foot flowing from one position to another. Just as I watched the Olympic marathon as I was learning to run, I internalize movements for my own visualization by observing the form in others.
Sarah helped me to deepen stretches and unlike last week when I felt as though I might be broken in two, I breathed into it. We did frog today:
I allowed myself to feel the intensity of the stretch and then regulate it as it became too intense for me breathing into it the entire time. I felt openings in our side twists and loved the balance between the familiar and the unfamiliar patterns of movement. I found my own rhythm and moved through at my own pace being totally unconcerned with what anyone else in the room was doing. Sarah made adjustments with my warrior poses and then I got back into the flow. I felt that I was practicing yoga. I allowed the practice to happen. I was unconcerned about 'needing adjustments' on my pose but surrendered to the adjustments and allowing myself to be taught.
So yes while we all may be creatures of habit, and need comfort and familiarity it is also a wonderful world that awaits for us just outside of that comfort zone.
God bless, be well and feel the expansion
From my heart to yours with love and gratitude,