Last week, Jill Miller, founder of Yoga Tune Up, announced that she needs a total hip replacement.
In her beautiful blog post, she writes:
"My therapist tried to stop me from further blaming myself for my condition, “perhaps it’s genetic,” he said. “No one in my family has had their hips replaced. I built this city,” I insisted. My pre-existing genetic condition was to move and stretch myself compulsively to stifle the emotional stresses I felt as a constant in my body. I’m not enough, not perfect enough, not smart enough, not nice enough, not pretty enough, not worthy. My yoga and stretching could quiet me like a quart of bourbon could silence my ancestors."
I was moved by Jill's reflection and awareness, her willingness to own her role in the way her body has responded to the inputs it's been given. Her body adapted as best it could to the movements she kept putting herself through; it just so happens that it wasn't sustainable.
I was thinking about Jill's post during a yoga class I went to yesterday. I don't normally go to yoga classes, although I used to practice regularly. Which is to say, I have a lot of familiarity, but mostly move differently now.
During the class, I was struck at how many times I was asked to go past my boundaries, at how many times I was cued to do something I knew I could not do safely. I would look around the class and be able to see that others couldn't do them either, even if they were.
Two things really struck me in this:
1. I know my body incredibly well. With so much more to learn, I already have a fluency with how my body talks. Because of my alignment training, I am further able to identify which movements work and which don't, even without the presence of pain. I already know when I'm approaching a boundary (even if I don't listen). But most people don't even know the big boundaried edges of their movement! Most people don't know when their hips have stopped moving and their spines have taken over or why that might matter. Most people don't know that their wrist extension is so limited that a loaded right angle between hand and forearm might actually be dangerous for them right now. Or that sucking in our guts (shall we all raise our hands?) doesn't equate to a stable core.
This kept me reflecting back on Jill's article and how often we might be engaging in movements that only serve to exacerbate our problems, and how often we do things because we think they are good for us only to realize later that they were not.
2. Which brings me to the other thing that struck me in class yesterday. I really, really, really wanted to go past my boundaries! Even after I felt a twinge in my right hip flexor during a lunge, I wanted to straighten my back knee. She kept cuing it and I was the only one not doing it! I felt an urge to do it right, at whatever cost, to be seen as good at yoga, to be advanced and get recognized. I wanted to be seen as good, period.
I kept wondering how it was for others in the class - how it is for people in yoga and exercises classes all over - who are trying to please their teacher or be recognized in some way and don't even know that's what's happening! Here I was, conscious of what I was doing, aware of my physical limitations and still - STILL! - I wanted to push just a little bit deeper.
~ ~ ~
Jill talks about how she used her practice to quiet that dis-ease inside her psyche, to escape her emotional pain.
In my mind, this is a huge missing piece of the conversation within circles of avid movers.
WHY are we moving?
Is it to draw closer to what is real for us, or is to get away from it?
Do we find ourselves in movement, or do we finally escape?
Has movement become another repression mechanism?
Or is it another way to prove that we are finally worth whatever it is we are trying to be worthy of?
I guess what I want to say is that you don't need to get injured. Or maybe you do, but not because your movement practice requires it; maybe because there's some lesson you missed, or one you're trying to learn. But yoga (or anything else) shouldn't be leading to chronic injuries or pain. As a friend/client/colleague of mine likes to say, "No pain, no pain."
And let's be clear that I'm not talking all injuries. We have bodies (ack!). They will get sick and injured. That's a part of the human experience.
But we are sometimes injuring ourselves out of ignorance or shame. And we don't need to.
What about you? How are you using movement in service of self-love? When does it become an obstacle?
In love and light,
P.S. SMALL GROUP COACHING STARTS THIS WEEK! - This is the perfect place to begin to uncover what it means for YOU to have boundaries in your movement, and in your life. For nine months, you will be engaging deeply with other like-minded women to come into the fullness of who you are so that you can begin living in alignment. I am so excited about the people who have already joined! Only two spots left for Friday afternoons.... http://www.theresilientbody.com/small-group-coaching