Have you recently injured yourself or are facing a set-back while recovering successfully?
It’s all right when you are under 20, at that age you do have that feeling of invincibility and your body is able to heal quickly.
Moving on a couple of decades you may still relish those ideas of ‘being able to do it no matter what’ yet for many of us the body’s recovery and self-healing abilities have slowed down. We keep ourselves from recovering quickly because we expect it ’to happen’, just the way it used to; but we may not.
Somebody recently contacted me to tell me that her old injury had flared up so badly, it would take her weeks to get back to normal. She had been nursing a partly degenerative condition, improving from week to week with the help of a therapist.
During the yoga class all seemed fine but the day after her mobility was greatly reduced plus plenty of pain.
It’s wonderful to stay young at heart, keep going, feel 25 years old no matter how many birthdays we have had.
I watch my son’s football team chasing a ball across the pitch, inconsiderate of bumpy ground, forceful legs and unforgiving shoulders. Occasionally someone needs to be carried off the pitch, fortunately being healed up the following Sunday. Oh yes, sweet 15.
And somewhere somehow those sensations of carefree action remain in our psyche.
As we mature we do well to develop body awareness beyond the outer goals of kicking balls or tackling opponents.
The sooner we turn our mind inwards, listening to signals specific parts of the body send us when things are going well. It’s a gift to know when our body is enjoying, happy, alive.
We can easily identify pain.
There are plenty more subtle sensations though. These can inform us of how well we use a joint and its supporting tissues; how effectively we are moving from one position to the next. They indicate if we are using our strength efficiently or if we are practising something beyond the point of safety.
We can all improve the way we connect with our body.
In fact, we have all learned to do it already. From needing only warmth, food and holding when we were babies we have hundreds of delicate differences for what we like or dislike at any moment. Much of this is driven by our minds' comfort rather than our body’s desires and wishes.
I like chocolate. It makes me feel happy, tastes yummy and is easily available.
No, chocolate isn’t all bad. Why not enjoy it some time. But when it comes to its effects we tend to focus on a very few, and mainly the pleasurable ones.
The same goes on when we do physical work:
Yet we can reach our goal, honouring the body’s need to have some time without bending over in the flower bed. The reward can be that we feel good about doing it again tomorrow.
I can get up and move away from the screen, stretch the eyes and the back so revitalise my physical energy and renew mental focus.
I can cycle while neither knees or shoulders hurt so I don’t think about them every time I move tomorrow.
Don’t you also love discovering things about yourself, finding how you tick?
When I practise stretches and sequences I never used to stop beforehand to be clear of my goal for a session.
Nowadays I find that a few moments at the start, during and after finishing add something precious.
Those are moments of being on top of the world, like an orchestra where every musician listens to all the others and their combined performance goes well beyond the sum of the individuals’ parts.
Or like the jockey and horse who melt together, each pulsating through their partner, giving their best and spurring the other to extend theirs.
We may only be humble yogis on a plain mat.
Yet we too aspire to form a spectacular oneness in our being which is so different from the person who goes through the motions to perform a task or a job.
We can observe the sensations in any muscle or joint, allow the thoughts of “I should” fall away and present to our inner self the pleasure and beauty of being as human as we can be.
All of it in a pose or a stretch or a breath.
The reward is that sensation of presence which fulfils us.
It’s feeling safe.
Next time I climb onto that rectangular non-slip piece of synthetic foam I will remember why I am there and in 3 steps...
Why not treat yourself too? Really listen to your body and accept and appreciate it.
Or should I even say “love it”?
How we can help you!
YOGA & RELAXATION DAY
Saturday 3 June 2023 at Lam Rim Buddhist Centre, NP15 2LE
Out in the forest we experience a new dimension when doing our yoga outside. The birdsong and rustling leaves can alert us to notice the beauty and grace of nature.
Walking with awareness of your breath and body can provide a calming effect.
So let's connect with nature, take a sensory yoga and walking experience that takes care of ourselves, our environment, each other, and together, enjoy the benefits of Nature, Yoga and Relaxation.
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We are Kari van Eden and Michael Cordel.