Curiosity and Impermanence, June 2021
Part of the beauty of the human body is its capacity to change; nothing is permanent. Some of the change is sudden, obvious, and major; acute injuries, accidents, stressful events (both physical and emotional). But much of this change is so slow, it’s unnoticeable. Many of the cells in your body completely regenerate every seven-ten years. Each day, you walk several thousand more steps. You experience new emotions, have new conversations, and take in new information through all five senses. You draw in and expel air thousands of times per day. You should never expect your practice to be the same each day, because it’s always a new body that’s participating!
One of the greatest lessons (and challenges) in Yoga is meeting your body where it is. The first step to take inventory and ask questions. Be curious about how that difficult conversation created tension in your neck. Notice how a joyful experience gave you greater capacity in your breath and brings a lift to your chest. Understand that the hormones released in stressful events will have an effect on your physical body. Where do you carry your tension? Where do those difficult feelings settle? Do you notice a change in your strength or flexibility?
Labeling and identifying these factors in your practice is the easy part. The more difficult challenge is to reserve judgement, especially when these experiences in your body are limiting.
The last year has created immeasurable stress for practically everyone, and you shouldn’t expect your practice to remain unaffected. You may have been away from your mat completely, or even if you’ve been on Zoom at home, you may find yourself having a fantastically different experience upon returning to the studio.
You may find it necessary to take a modification in a pose, perhaps in a way that you’ve never needed to before. Instead of viewing a modification as an inconvenience, something to be judged as “less than” your usual standard, embrace it as a learning opportunity. What can you gain from that experience? What do you notice about the support of a blanket when folded in a new way? When one part of your pose is supported, where else can you flourish and grow? You might even learn that you prefer to practice in this new way!
When we are curious about the daily and hourly changes in our body, we can celebrate and be grateful for the joy of discovery in our practice.