I’ve come to a new understanding of what it means to consistently practice (I shudder at the term “work out”). I used to get so ahead of myself and it wouldn’t be long before moving felt like a chore. A chore! Now I surrender to the ground and my breath. They hold me up and when I am done I feel like I’ve fallen in love. And thanks to all of my internal alignment work, it feels so soft and pleasurable in the doing.
This beautiful and truthful article written by a yoga teacher, writer and lovely person, is about her experience going to Paris in the efforts to get out of structural pain. She went to work with brilliant researcher, teacher and darling of Iyengar: Noelle Perez-Christiaens, Ph.D. at Institut Superieur Aplomb. Though I have developed my own way of supporting my students to restore function and embody this structure, her research and my training with her teachers, are the principles for the internal alignment work I teach.
In any relationship love is on the table. Usually either as a sentiment or a verb. I choose the latter and my most important love relationship is with myself. Anyone can vow to take care of themselves or to be healthy, but whether we choose to let over-thinking and associated “experts” guide us along from an external perspective or whether we choose a hundred times within a day to listen to the animal: is the choice between an arm’s length from truly knowing/being ourselves or thriving in the wildness of our bodies and souls. The latter is not a task for the squeamish but the rewards will feel like stars in your eyes.
Whether you dance or sing or run or drop in on a yoga class : bring love for yourself with you. Treat yourself with the tenderness you reserve for emergencies. Listen with care for the sensations in your body. Take a break when you know you need to. Ease the discomfort and breathe into the good.
You are a miracle. It is time for us to make a loving and nurturing home within ourselves.
One of the things I love about this work realigning the body, physically letting go, or as I like to call the blending of the two: integrating with the animal, is the fact that I can see it in my students. It literally shows up in the body.
My struggle with fatigue, the fallout of my early traumas, limited the amount of Align Up practice I’d ever been able to do. Pushing past it only unleashed more unsettling emotional intensity and three years of adrenal fatigue. The tides turned for me, long-story-short, by surrendering and living by the mantra: What Would Feel Really Good Now?
Lately-a couple years later? I’ve been feeling awe-struck with life and wanted to see what that looked like in my body. Change is so gradual, it’s hard to see it when you see yourself day-to-day. So a friend took some photos of me while I practiced on her patio. I am not presenting these images as a “before and after” in a finalized version of the expression, because working this way is literally how I live and breathe now. Life is about my moment-to-moments shaping my journey.
Here’s me at work about three-four years after I’d been practicing Tai-Chi, and was in teacher training at The Balance Center:
It might appear that the 15 pound sandbag on my head was the reason for the intensity of my expression. Not true. I was working in a way that the bag felt light. No, that heaviness was about how I was carrying and letting down my weight. It was also my trauma expressing itself whenever I trained or practiced. I remember Chen Xiaowang seeing it in me. I felt it, of course. But I thought this was training! This was strength. But it was really me, my animal deeply stressed and over-exercised. It was triggering pain and shame from my physical trauma.
This is me now, June 2015. I could feel the peace I’d made with myself and with my animal when I looked at these photos. We did it! I did it! I am okay now. It’s not like I’ll be running off into some perfect sunset or a photo shoot for a mental health poster. Perfection is a dead-end anyway. I have a baseline feeling of peace and lightness. My days are spent lollygagging moment to moment, going by what would feel good. And only doing that thing, including Align Up & TRE, as long as I need to. As long as it’s pleasurable.
The gratitude I feel is so profound. I’ve been waiting most of my life to feel this emotional freedom and physical peace. Recovery didn’t bring me what I planned or struggled for. It brought me something better. Something I couldn’t fathom as I waded through the darkness. We are miracles. I wish you love and lightness.
I, with so many others, mourn the death of Robin Williams. I am sorry that his pain grew larger than an ability to keep looking for answers. Answers that would help him soothe himself. And comfort. Money means nothing. Everything important in life doesn’t cost money. His life and inspiration pushed out by unbearable pain.
There’s a little of that in all of us. I think back to the decades I felt sad and or numb. A few people tried to help me but I didn’t think I was worth the help. They offered a bowl of chicken soup but I didn’t have the flu. I had the opposite of inspiration. A spiritual and emotional hole that needed to be filled. An intensity that needed to be let go of. There were many more people I’ve reached out to in the past. Just wanting to connect. For my own benefit and to others that I knew were struggling. I wanted to share some time and care for each other. Most of the time, no one reached back. It felt impossible to keep going.
This is a series of posts about dealing with a physiology and nervous system that’s been affected by stress. The last two posts covered the importance of respecting the wreckage that stress can have on us and the seven-pronged approach to getting past it.The first post was about acceptance and understanding that conventional ideas about physical fitness could be compromising to we stress bunnies. The second post was about recovery and a new approach to physical health.