Well – lets first make sure I explain that I practice Ashtanga Yoga. Its an old ass practice that is structured in the sense that you have a sequence of asanas (postures) that you move through. You progress through the series over the course of years. Yes, years. This shit ain’t easy so if you think yoga is easy, please let me introduce you to my practice. It is a powerful, solar, masculine practice. You. Work. The entire time. And its hot – like 80s none of that Bikram million degrees stuff just hot. And the heat you create in your body just adds to the fire.
Before yesterday, my practice was……inconsistent, forced (?), steam rolled and rushed. So, what the fuck happened yesterday you may ask? Well I have been having a lot of body work done, as previously described, and last week was intense due to mis scheduling on my part. A lot of intense body work was happening. A lot of where I needed this was in my front line – guts, diaphragm, chest, psoas, pelvis etc. If you have every thought about were you might store shit or where your health really lies, its p.much in the front cabinet of your abdomen. Your organs are in there – like all of them. When you go smashing shit around, stuff gets rocked & released. Saturday I felt it. A culmination of cupping, gua sha, acupinture, trigger point release, intense deep tissue massage, Standard Process supplement regimen – stuff was inside of me and I felt like a toxic waste pit. Thankfully, it didn’t ruin my anniversary dinner with my boyfriend., but during the day I just wanted to sleep and hurl.
Sunday I woke up, and lets just say – stuff came out. I drove my happy ass to practice. First, we meditate. This has always been tough for me. I fidget, I’m uncomfortable physically because my muscles have been bitches. I can’t clear my mind and I am generally thinking, “OK but is 15 minutes over yet? Ugh I feel like its been 6 hours!! I think I might have passed out? grown roots? OMG I’m a tree now!”.
Second, we breathe. This. is. the. worst. I have never really quantified just how little I had been breathing. Part of this was due to some of the physical muscle issues I was having, my rib cage being crooked, and just years upon years of that left me with a 1 second bullshit inhale. Some of these other students are just inhaling like they got nothing but time! Like for 5,6, fuck even 10 seconds! Breathing has just made me feel pitiful and pissed. I would try and try, but then I would feel dizzy like I was going to pass out. That was even before the retention exercises, during which I was like “Basically I’m going to drown if I go under water because I got nothing”.
Third, we practice. This is my favorite of the 3, I had been at the same place in the series for like 3 months. I knew why I was there, I wasn’t consistent with my practice and there were certain strengths I needed to build before being gifted the next few postures. You can’t move too fast or you risk injury.
Back to yesterday. First, we meditated. I was solid in my seat. My back and core felt engaged and strong. I didn’t feel any pain in my anywhere parts. I closed my eyes – and I was completely clear. It kinda felt like I shimmered outside of my body (if you’ve ever watched the show Fringe that would make sense to you). And then, he was there. My cousin Derek was there smiling at me, he placed a hand on my shoulder and told me he was so proud of me, he thought it was so cool what I was doing with this yoga stuff. Then he told me not to worry that my mother wasn’t in my life (future post to explain that), but his Mom would always be there for me, and she would always take care of me. He hugged me and continued to say he was glad Alex (my boyfriend) was taking care of me, he knew that him sending him to me would be all I need to feel safe (maybe a future post to explain that but long story short Alex & Derek were friends, I didn’t know, Derek passed, I started talking to him a lot, poof Alex and I started talking – dating and general feeling of all the loving feels and shit). He looked at me one last time with that smirk of his….and then he was gone. I was sitting there, still aware of my body and my surroundings but in a different place. I could feel the tears streaming down my face and I didn’t care. I was now unwavering. I felt a confidence in my physical body in a way I hadn’t felt in years – literal strength. And I felt a peace I may have never felt before. After all, Derek was always part of my yoga. My favorite picture of him (below) always make me feel connected to him when I am in Virabhadrasana B.
So meditation was great. I wasn’t just thinking about my knees. Probably the first time anything really happened me. Next up, breathing. My nemesis. But what the hell is this? I am taking deep inhales……like I just kept breathing in. All of this air! I have no idea what to do with it! I felt some breathing parts that I didn’t know I had. Did I fuck up the sequence of the breathing practice a bit, of course I did! I was having an internal party considering I was actually fucking breathing! The retentions sucked a lot less and I didn’t think I was going to die at any point. By now, you can imagine I am just like – what the fuck is going on here? Yesterday, I wanted to sleep and could barely sit up straight without my back hurting – today I am over here engaging my bandhas and breathing like a champ! Bring on the practice!
Walking into the room, I carried that peace Derek bought me. I rolled out my mat, rolled my neck around a few times like I always did. I found my breath and started moving. With. My. Breath. You have to understand that before you do yoga, in my opinion, you think you know what breath is, and you think you can control it. You also think you can move with your breath. Until you start Ashtanga and its like “Oh human, sit down while I serve you this humble sandwich.”. I was super connected and my folds were like, DEEP! My chest was on my thighs. My teacher came over for an adjustment on Utthita Parsvokonasana/Parvitta Parsvokonasana. Adjustments are good, in case you haven’t practiced in a mysore setting or have a teach adjust you – just know they are good. There was something about that transference of juju and I thought to myself, “I am going to get more postures today”. Kept breathing, kept moving. Finished the standing series and jumped through to the floor. I didn’t float, but I didn’t crash. It was more like a controlled emergency landing. My teacher walked up, “where are you at? whats the last posture I gave you?” I said “Janu” – “OK, we’re going to do Marichasana A & B today”. OH DIP now I got some sorta Ashtanga ESP happening.
My floor sequence was incredible. I have never been able to fold so deep. I was thinking to myself whatever I let go off yesterday and this morning can peace the fuck out! I don’t need it. I feel light and energized. So I did Marichasana A, I knew how to it just wasn’t in my practice yet, then I did B and went to move on to what was next in my sequence. “Nacki do C & D”. OH! OK sure, lemme do that. With a little help on getting into D – was bending in these postures like a human pretzel. “Now you do Navasan. 5 times”. Cue mini panic attack. Navasana…the boat pose of death. My core and low back have been pretty weak so considering this pose before this day was just a no go. But the mini panic attack was so mini, I might even be making up the fact that I had one. I popped up into that boat like the captain of the ship! Yea, my knees were bent but you don’t start as the captain of a yacht – I was completely fine with this dingy.
Did you think that was it? NOPE – theres still more. My I did not need to support myself on shoulder stand, I laid my hands on the floor and felt a connection to my core. The control in my finishing sequence was growing. Savassanah came and I think I was on such a high I didn’t really doze or find a meditative moment. I just laid there and was like “OK Body, you did some thaaaanggssss today sister! Lets celebrate the loss of all that garbage we got rid of and live in this new relaxed and free body.”…this is the me I remember. This is the me I have been looking to recounted with for a year or 2. She’s always been there, but cloaked in a veil only coming fully into the light for short glimpses (mostly when I am with Alex or Gryffindor because they both relax me).
The day went on and ended with a fulfilling conversation with my teacher. I realized that Derek visiting me was really needed. The shit I got off my chest to my mother was a closure I hadn’t realized I needed. Her response was not my wish, but it sealed the deal and I knew I had done everything I could. (Again, more to come). I think I was just holding on to so much guilt about my parents since seeing them at Dereks funeral that it bought up alot of old shit. Even though I had been through years of counseling and hours of self reflection – there were still memories. Whether or not you believe your muscles, guts and fascia hold memories is your business – but I can tell you I actually felt it. Like stuff was coming up the more I got poked prodded and smooshed, but once it got the fuck out – that physical lightness was translated into emotional lightness as well.
So my practice today is better than it ever was. I feel like my energy will allow me to have more consistency. My body will allow me to progress. And maybe this newfound lightness will let me float soon!