Maybe this isn’t the first lesson of 2018 but it feels like the first major one.
Last Saturday I participated in a two-hour yoga workshop focused on backbends. Part of the prep work for backbends includes shoulder openers. The class went well, even though it was long and quite intense at times. Of course, as to be expected, I was sore the next day. However, by the evening my left shoulder started to hurt a bit. Soon, it turned into pain. I didn’t understand why – I didn’t do anything in class that hurt or caused me pain. This delayed ache-turned-throb felt really bad.
The next morning it wasn’t as painful, but my arm felt sort of numb, almost like it wasn’t part of me. I had to consciously tell me arm what to do. It was very odd! Over the next few days the pain subsided and I figured I was over it.
Thursday evening I carried an overloaded basket of clean clothes upstairs. The following morning my shoulder was mad. Two days later and it’s still sore.
I want a quick fix. I want a pill or a specific exercise to make it go away. Brad suggests rest. (insert eye roll here) What does he know?! (a lot, apparently)
This weekend I’m participating in an immersion workshop focused on healing and breathwork. 5 hours yesterday, 5 more hours today. Yesterday we talked some about attachment and how this causes suffering, or at least an inability to be fully present. When we attach ourselves to a particular experience or feeling, we will ultimately be hurt or disappointed because experiences and feelings aren’t permanent.
After I got home yesterday I realized this: I’m attached to yoga.
I’m attached to the weekly routine – class on Tuesday and Thursday evening plus one on the weekend.
I’m attached to praise from my teachers.
I’m attached to going deeper into a pose, not because I’m present or paying attention to what my body really needs, but because I want to be “better.”
I’m attached to achieving certain poses.
I’m attached to working harder, becoming more flexible, being stronger.
I’ve always loved being a student because, typically, I’m good at it. After graduating from seminary I found myself missing that. I missed the learning and reflecting back what I learned through exams and papers. I missed the evaluation from my professors. I missed the recognition.
It appears as though, over time, yoga has come to fill that void. And, as you probably know, that is not the point of yoga. Far from it. I became a student again and slipped back into those attachments.
I have two yoga classes already scheduled for this week that I need to cancel. My ego says, “No! You can make this work!” My shoulder says, “Please, let me rest.”
I thought maybe I would just take a break from the Vinyasa and Strong Flow classes and go to a Gentle Flow offering. “Do you use your shoulders in Gentle Flow?” Brad asked, knowing the answer. (insert another eye roll)
It may just be a week or two. It may be longer. It depends what my shoulder says. But, I realize this isn’t just about my shoulder. This is about the way I approach my mat. And for that reason, I need a break. I need to break some of those attachments.
I don’t like this.
And, that right there is why I need to do it.