Freshly back from teacher training in the US, Wendy shares her break out...and I’m not talking about Alcatraz...
During my teacher training with Ana Forrest in San Francisco, I realised that I was still locked into my own old, deeply entrenched need to excel physically and to try to produce perfect poses regardless of the physical pain, emotional stress and frustration it caused.
I also felt I had to compete with students who were much younger and more physically able than myself. In fact my reason for going was not to become a yoga teacher, but just to prove to my own satisfaction, that I could still ‘produce the goods’.
Ana Forrest and her team were aware of my difficulties and made repeated efforts to help me realise that I did not need to compete or excel, and that my only competition was myself. Some of their physical adjustments did not always suit my body and the fear of increased pain forced me to rethink my attitude toward training. I decided to follow Ana’s advice by being gentle with myself and changing the relationship I had with my hips, which represented an important but actually very small proportion of my physical body.
I started to feel and listen to my whole body, not just the bits that hurt or did not work properly. I began to realise that sometimes small and simple adjustments in the position of my body parts, combined with deepening my breath, could significantly reduce my pain and stress levels. So no more over thinking about what I cannot physically achieve because of my joint and nervous system damage, but which bits of the problem poses can I do and how can I make the poses work for ME.
It’s about taking the poses to the edge of my comfort zone, listening to my body, applying the advice from ALL my teachers, and celebrating the smallest of successes.
Not long after my return to the UK, I was elated when I was able to get into left side pigeon pose WITHOUT A BLOCK, YEEHAA, something I never thought I would achieve. As I moved into pigeon I looked at the students around me then closed my eyes, shutting myself off from the vision of their ‘better poses’. I listened to, and felt my own body’s responses, slowed my breathing to the deepest I could manage and lowered myself inch by inch as the hip joint and muscles gave way layer by layer. My left leg was not parallel to the front of the mat, my right leg was not fully straight, BUT my left butt cheek was on the floor, I could rest my forehead on the floor and could breathe with long, luxurious breaths, more importantly, getting a good stretch but without pain. So, not perfect, but massive progress and certainly good enough for now J
At last I realise that I have been my own worst enemy by constantly seeking rapid progress, when I should have been giving my body the time, attention and
gentleness it needed to open and respond steadily to the demands I have imposed on it. Change is already underway and I will be constantly encouraging other students to follow my lead on the road to pain and competition free yoga