Slight Adjustments

Sep 18, 2011 by

Today is the second day that in doing ordinary movements, like unloading the dishwasher, my muscles ache in protest as they decide if they will cooperate with me in placing the coffee mugs on the shelf above. They complain even louder walking steps or washing hair. The rebellion happening within my body is the result of practicing yoga two days ago after a too-many-days to count hiatus from the meditation that I love so much.

Though I’m not a beginner, I took the beginner’s class thinking I’d ease my way back, like dipping a toe into a pool rather than taking the head-first plunge. In a class of about 12, I found my way in the back of the studio, away from the instructor, and planned to blend in, feel my way back to practice, and appreciate my body by stretching it, strengthening it, and ultimately resting it.

We started our flow of asanas simply enough, but when we began holding the poses the instructor – typically yogic in her long, lean body – abandoned her own mat and walked the room, giving slight adjustments to my fellow practitioners. Strategically placing myself in the back of the room proved no strategy at all. At several points in the practice, I felt her tiny, confident fingers pull my right hip back and left forward or tap my left shoulder down and raise my right shoulder slightly. Her adjustments, minute, ultimately made a significant difference in how I felt in the poses, the level of strength I needed to conjure in maintaining them, and the intensity of the stretch called upon from my muscles. Not to mention, the raised level of concentration necessary in order to keep balance, focus gaze, or refrain from yelling out “WTF?” in the middle of class.

For all of the adjustments she made to my body during Utthita Trikonasan (extended triangle pose) or Virabhadrasana I (warrior 1) it was the one near the end of our hour together that invited a come to Jesus moment.

I’ve always prided myself on my flexibility. At 42, I can still do the splits, touch my palms to the floors and, on a good day, hold Natarajasana (dancer’s pose) in such as way that I feel like I’m soaring. So, as I laid my belly as flat to my thighs as I thought possible in Paschimottanasana, a simple seated, forward bend, I took pride in the slight burn of my hamstrings and that I could stare it in the face, unflinching.

But then . . . the slight adjustment.

As I heard her footsteps on the floor behind me, sticky from oil and sweat, I braced. Surely . . . she doesn’t expect me to go DEEPER!!!! my mind and muscles shouted as she gently placed her knees to my back, pushing me down, deep and into a panic.

Breathe, Nicole. Just freakin’ breathe . . .breathe into the burn, into the tension, breathe into the backs of your freakin’ legs. And, I did. And my muscles, angry and opinionated, began to relax, acquiesce, adjust. But then, to my horror, I heard her footsteps move in front of me, stopping as she knelt to take hold of the soles of my feet and press them upwards and back toward me. I moaned, not outloud, but I know I moaned within where bone meets ligament and ligament meets muscle and muscle meets nerve and nerve meets brain. My eyes became moist. Not from pain so much, but from surrender, from the breaking of my own spirit. My soul whispered beneath the shouts, Nicole, there’s always deeper to go.

I know.

I held the pose, or rather, it held me. Together we committed to the pain and to the lesson:

We never arrive . . . there is always more to learn, greater to understand, higher to reach, and deeper to dive.

We need others . . . to illuminate our flaws and help us in their correction, to challenge what we think we know, to assist us achieve the goals we set for ourselves, to walk with us on soles sticky from the sweat of our shared exertions.

Together, the class and I, finally arrived at Savasana (corpse pose) . . . the only time of complete rest, when you are encouraged to release the mind, body connection and just breathe and be. Even here, with my palms to the sky, eyes closed and face relaxed, I heard the familiar footsteps of the instructor above my head. What could possibly . . . Her breath warmed my face as she hovered over me, pushing my shoulders down, away from my ears. As my limp hands flopped outwardly . . . I did, in fact, feel more relaxed, more dead. Hmph. Even in relaxation we might need a little help.

I pray that we all hear and welcome the sticky footsteps of friends, family and loved ones who walk with us, challenge us, and support us as we practice our way through life . . . more, greater, higher and deeper. And I pray we all, one day at a time, find the resolve, the will, the humility to hold our intentions as best as we can. We might be a little bruised, but we might be a little stronger too.

Peace and Blessings,

Nicole Walters

Related Posts


Share This

Leave a Reply