My feelings were locked up tight with my joints.
BY MAGAZINE CORRESPONDENT JOANNA H
The winner of our “I Knew My Life Had to Change When…” Spring Call for Entries
Walking across Bleecker Street one day, absently looking into store windows, I thought I saw a hunched old woman walking along behind me. I turned slightly.
Not quite so.
There was no hunched old woman walking along behind me. There was just one woman in the window and it was me. Holee! How long has this been going on? I stopped and tried to hold my body differently – realign myself.
This was not the fine, fit, self I saw in my mind.
Suddenly everything felt different. Wasn’t I okay? I had a home, a secure career (secure and stultifying), and two grown kids. I was taking care of things. Twenty five years before this, I was married. I thought all was fine. I’m sure it was fine. On the other hand, I was also sure I looked young and fit. So what did I know?
Ten married years
followed by twenty five single and alone years.
I was okay.
I was fine.
Migraine headaches, not much energy and no desire
to do anything besides the daily custodial stuff needed to keep afloat. Fine? Hah! Work, laundry, shopping. You know – my stuckness was coming clear.
Did it matter? Could things be different than they were? What was joy anyway?
My therapist said, “Have you ever considered yoga?”
I can’t do yoga, I said. My joints are too tight.
A few weeks later, I had a really good idea – my joints are too tight. I think I should do yoga.
My first yoga classes were pretty improbable.
Just about every posture hurt. Lying on my back on the floor, I had to keep shifting my body as my back tensed and pulled. Sitting on the floor pulled at my legs and hips. Sitting cross-legged was excruciating, no, impossible.
One leg folded at a time was all I could manage.
Fortunately, I actually loved being there on the floor in soft clothes and barefoot. That kept me coming back to yoga. Slowly, really slowly, my body began to soften. Just lying on the floor soon became my favorite thing to do. I stayed with it. It was my home practice that year – lying on my back on my yoga mat, sensing my body, sensing myself, and breathing into space.
This was my year: done with teaching, my kids out of the house, my life’s total focus was talk therapy, yoga, walking alone slowly along the shore – looking, feeling.
One frozen winter day, I followed a path across a large patch of ice. I know, I know. Why that path?
I lost my grip, my feet flew out from under me.
What a moment, losing my grip. Or maybe something was losing its grip on me.
That day was a big one. Miraculously enough, despite coming back to earth with a slam, my fifty seven year old body felt great. Soon after, on another day, in another walking alone moment, I felt a sudden openness, a sense that an actual wall of cubes in my body was tumbling apart – a totally astonishing sensation. My body rearranging itself? This was becoming a really opening year.
Apparently my thinking and feeling had been locked up along with my joints.
I had been stuck in my body, and stuck in my life.
My thoughts and feelings were now moving along with my body and I began to see myself and others in ways I had never allowed myself to imagine. Closets are awfully small spaces, very limiting. I was coming out into a really wider world.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.