As we gear up for 2012, the enthusiasm (and sometimes pressure from the outside world) we sense at the close of the year has up chomping at the bit to do a complete overhaul of our lives. The body, career and relationship areas are highlighted as we compare and contrast where have been in the years past, and the urgency and expectation of the upcoming year nips at our heels. We see it all around us, a commercialism that sells us on a sense of lack, showing us what we must have or don't have or should have. This can put us in constant pursuit of what something looks like rather than what is actually good for us, even if our bodies are telling us to stop. If a light on your dashboard was blinking, you would not hesitate to take your car in for a tune up, and certainly you would not drive around ignoring it, as if it would simply disappear by itself. So why do we ignore our aches and pains, and our fatigue?
One thing I have learned through the years is to take a step back. If you are feeling worn down (and even if you aren't) I encourage you to take one thing off the to-do list. Instead of powering through to the next accomplishment and skipping the process of rumination that the Winter time allows us, perhaps we can go with the flow of nature. Hibernation is such a natural and neccesary part of the growth process. Without taking a step back and assessing where we would like to direct ourselves, we could end up exactly where we are headed. Unconscious goal-setting is actually damaging. Rarely does our society take into consideration the individual human being. From the perspective of the field of wellness and health, I see over and over again the cycle of punishment/reward when it comes to my students, but what I recognize on a deeper level is the response that people have to the notion of being easy on ourselves. Being good to ourselves and the need for self-respect is powerful! That may be what attracts many to yoga. Yoga is about knowing when to work through and face the edge, but also when to step back and repsect that the body has a language, which includes a part of ourselves that says slow down.
I am a very physical person, so I am used to feeling in control of my body, and expressing control through my workouts and diet. I have excelled athletically by being strong and flexible. It is easy to get cocky and to feel invincible. Therefore, some of my greatest gifts have come in the form of injuries. Each injury has given me some very valuable education about my body. My torn meniscus and my knee surgery taught me patience and trust, as well as the ability to rehabilitate. My bulging discs have taught me to respect my body’s structure and limitations. Having dental work has taught me to accept my genetics. These experiences pin me to my body so that I become extremely present and grounded, and it is through this that I have learned the resilience that is truly within me. It is also how I have learned to understand bodies that are different from mine. I know how intimidating and frustrating it can be when it seems that everyone around you can do a pose that you can't. So this has taught me humility, respect, and acceptance.
As we wrap up the year, let's respect where we truly are. Your body knows. Allow it to speak to you.
For some modification tips for various limitations, see my TIPS and LINKS.