Try A Little Tenderness

I’m pretty strong, which is great- especially considering the work that I do. I like to think use that strength for good (not evil).

It’s super handy for things like; arm-balances, bringing in wood, deep tissue massage, handstands… You get the picture.

In a few weeks I am teaching a workshop entitled THE SUPER-JUICY HIP WORKSHOP.

[Side note: I have never been able to sit comfortably cross legged. Even as a kid I remember Kindergarten story-time was hell! *Criss-cross-apple-sauce*]

In preparation for this, my personal practice has been more about poses that open the hips to prepare for something dreamy like Fire logs pose (Agnistambhasana) or Lotus (Padmasana). I am very happy to report that after 20 years (on and off) of learning, practising and teaching yoga, with this recent more disciplined hip opening practice, (and some Fascial Stretch Therapy) I am now able to sit comfortably in a cross legged fashion, which for me, is HUGE!

In my practice this morning, instead of focusing on hips and building it around the asana that I am most comfortable with I decided to go with a practice that made me feel weak. I went with what I call my “shoulder nemesis” poses. Forearm Dog, Pincha Mayarasana… *Sigh…

Due to an old hang gliding injury (spiral fracture-humerus) these poses are extraordinarily difficult for me. I am always mystified that I can show such strength in the poses I love (handstand, any forward bend, most twisty things) but with these forearm things, it’s all struggle and fight, cursing and breath holding as I try to muscle my way through to the point where it really isn’t yoga any more. With a whiny voice inside my head (two year old tantrum style) I take a frustrated and fatigued child pose (seems appropriate) and I surrender. Near tears, I take a step back in my mind to just watch myself go through this. Watching myself try to bully my body into something it is not ready for. And why would it be?? Really…

Because I am entitled access to all the poses I want to practice??

“I should be able to DO this, I’m an ‘effing’ yoga teacher for crying out loud!!!”

Ahh, no.

The things I do not practice (because I find them uncomfortable/completely inaccessible and therefore do not ‘like’ them) are not going to become easier just because I decide I want to do them.

I remember my singing teacher saying, when trying to learn a song, it is a more efficient use of time and energy to focus on the chunks that are ‘hard’ then put them together with the ‘easier’ pieces, rather than playing/singing the stuff you know over and over again (avoiding the ‘hard’ stuff).

Taking a more tender approach, I soothe my seemingly stuck/weak shoulder girdle and take it about 3 notches back. Dropping the ideas of manipulating or tricking my body into something it’s not sequenced for …Yet.

I let it go and keep coming back with more kindness, compassion and tenderness for my ‘restrictions’ and without any judgment, I just watch and soothe, cheer and celebrate any comfort I find.