// photo : Tumblr
I’ve been getting back into a consistent movement practice lately after months of pushing it aside, and gentle yoga has been my practice of choice. It’s been wonderful for me but surprisingly challenging. My body is definitely a lot stronger than I initially thought, but there are still some poses that stretch me in a such a way that, while holding, I feel like I might fall over in fatigue.
I hate that feeling, I run from it—that feeling of sheer exhaustion, of feeling your muscles stretch and pull, painfully releasing tension. Not having a sense of control over my body’s ability to hold a pose or to stretch fully, and feeling like I am not as strong or loose as I want to be, is discouraging for me.
I struggle with inner cynicism and critique in those moments, hearing and feeling a continuous voice in my head go, “Your body is shaking. This is too hard. You can’t do this.” When I feel that kind of physical and mental intensity, it keeps me from wanting to return to the mat.
I know that the breath is a great thing to turn to when poses in yoga become intense, and when I breathe consciously I find that it lessens that feeling of weakness and exhaustion. The breath also brings me back to the present moment, which can quieten my thoughts.
But breathing doesn’t always get rid of the cynicism in my mind, and it doesn’t keep my thoughts from turning critical—not easily, at least.
One evening, as I was going through my yoga practice and coming into one of the most difficult poses in the class, those negative, faithless thoughts began to swirl up into my consciousness, and out of nowhere, as if I had done this many times before, I began to breathe in a quiet prayer.
I began to thank my body.
I believe I whispered something like. . .
“Thank you, body, for being strong enough to try to hold this pose. Thank you, body, for collaborating with me on releasing this tension in my shoulders. Thank you, body, for helping me show up today and do my best.”
The physical intensity of being in that pose didn’t quite disappear after my prayer, but the dread did, and suddenly, this particular pose that caused me such annoyance before began to melt into an experience of total surrender and softness. I stopped fighting my body in that moment and basked a little in the magnificence of its ability to simply try.
This gratitude prayer is something that I’ve been returning to over and over, not just in yoga but in any moment I’m occupying my body at a time when life feels hard or tedious—like waiting in a long line at the grocery store or putting away a mountain of clean laundry or dealing with self-doubt with my work.
Whenever I have the chance, I thank my body.
And it should be thanked, because what it does for me on a daily basis, often without my own awareness of it, is amazing, stemming on miraculous.
Gratitude for my body helps bring me home to fully inhabit it.
Quick Tip! HOW TO COME HOME TO YOUR BODY IN ONE EASY MINUTE . . .
1. Breathe mindfully.
2. Bring gentle awareness to your surroundings.
3. Next, bring gentle awareness to your senses—What do you see, hear, feel, smell?
4. Breathe that all in.
5. Now, smile and give thanks.
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Fully inhabiting your body and your senses doesn’t have to be short-lived. It can be an ongoing voyage of lush discovery and playful exploration.