I love yoga. It enhances my life in so many ways. There is so much evidence supporting the huge benefits of it from increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality, maintaining a balanced metabolism among many more.
However my relationship with yoga changed dramatically one evening during class. I have a competitive nature, so when I would see people in class turning themselves into pretzels I have to admit, I did have a slight twinge of envy. I’ve been teaching meditation for many years now and yet there was a part of me that still couldn’t help but push myself that extra bit harder trying to reach that lofty goal- ‘If only I could get into lotus, then I would really look like a meditation teacher!’
After doing regular yoga for twenty years now, unbelievably I still have tight hips and knees that can only manage a cross-legged seated pose that has my knees protruding substantial high! Which reminds me of the years of sitting on the floor in school assembly halls and having to wrap my arms around my knees to hold them up because it was so uncomfortable.
Then it happened. One night in class the yoga teacher at the front announces the next asana. Saddle Pose.
“Oh great” I say to myself. “I get to stretch out those tight knees of mine and inch closer to lotus!” I watch the room of mainly women effortlessly lie back horizontally on their shins and throw their arms over their head. Easy right?? I sit back on my shins and then lean all the way back. My hip-flexors are screaming at me. My lower abdomen muscles are shaking. My quads are burning with fire, and there is a sharp pain in my knees.
I can feel the pain in my knees increasing. Its like a nail has gone in there. My whole body is now aching and I am sweating! I don’t know how to get out of this position. I precariously push my hands to the floor and slowly raise myself out of the asana. It’s not good.
The weeks that followed were frustrating and painful. I hobbled everywhere and couldn’t attend yoga. No more surfing, no more gym, even meditating it was painful. MRI’s confirmed the meniscus was torn. I had a choice, to be glum, dark and suffer, or look deeper into this and ask a question. Every experience of life is research and development. This is the mechanics of evolution. What information was this experience offering me that will help my life going forward?
I was so fixated on the outcome in class that I was ignoring the process. It was the subtlety of the process that had all the information in it that I needed however I had closed my intuition off and pushed through that to try to reach my goal. Snap! Amazingly I had been doing this not just in yoga, but in life also. Do you notice how what you experience on your mat can be a representation of your life also? I decided it was time to start listening more. It was time to have intentions in life and on my mat, but not be attached to them. Observe the goals, yet be more present to the now. It was time to listen to the subtle information in each moment and as they say, ‘stop and smell the roses.’ It’s great to have goals and set our sights on the myriad possibilities of life, however within each moment there is a quiet simplicity that is bursting with knowledge.
These days, I’m back on the mat and loving my yoga, although when I do saddle pose, I use two bolsters and three blocks! It looks like a construction site! But I’m ok with it. Oh, and I have completely surrendered the need to ever get into lotus. Phew, that feels good…such a relief!