Finally giving in

I experienced a ruptured disc in 1994, and after I started to heal, my chiropractor suggested yoga as a way for me to restore my range of motion and regain some muscle tone. I had once seen a yoga demonstration where a guy, in addition to contortions that were imaginable and impressive, made his abdominal muscles move from one side of his torso to the other—just like that, his abs would jump way over there—and because I thought that beyond my capabilities, I decided that yoga was not for me, just like that. I was insane, or maybe just retarded.

If my doc hadn’t just saved me from breathtaking pain, I might have ignored him, but he had, over months of frequent—sometimes daily—chiropractic treatments and acupuncture, got me to function rather than just pant. And he’d done it free of charge. So I tried yoga.

I wasn’t ready to be that still and attentive at the same time, but I tried anyway for some months, until I could walk some distance or ride a bicycle, both of which were way easier than yoga.

Fifteen years later, my guilty-monkey mind is feebler, and I don’t feel nearly so ashamed of giving myself that much care and attention, although I still haven’t allowed myself a pedicure.

My thinking has changed a lot since I moved to Chico, so my life has changed, too. Most of all, my thinking has abated, and my life is richer for it. All those years trying to avoid or ignore my left brain are starting to pay off, and I can go for long periods not thinking about much of anything. Being is good.

After I figure out what all my parts ought to be doing in a given yoga position and accept what my particular parts can actually do right then, I can stop thinking, and not thinking always relaxes me. You, too. I find it easier to be without thought outdoors than indoors. It’s probably a conditioned response to all those years of compulsory schooling. Doors bad.

Outdoor yoga is especially wonderful, as are most things outside in my experience, and my fancy yoga mat has gotten more use in the past two weeks than in the three months I’ve had it. Outside under the sky and the appropriate trees I know why people practice yoga. I feel more connected to the earth, and I am gratifyingly conscious of my body in space, even as the sweat rolls down my face and my arm trembles to hold me up.