I had to put a pause on all of my new fitness activities for a few weeks, as I had a chest infection that wouldn’t quit, but one class I did manage was the yoga class that I have attended for the last three weeks. I started doing yoga when I realised that I didn’t have the hip flexibility to be able to do Brazilian Jujitsu, so while I am still too broke to spend money on classes, and won’t continue until I am back in the black financially, I am aiming to utilise the free classes that come with my gym membership.
At the yoga class we had a different teacher who was taking the lesson on the fly. It didn’t matter it was a great lesson. As always I was sweating through the class. Literally. I don’t know whether it is the olanzapine that is causing me to sweat so freely at the hint of any exertion, but it comes off me now in sheets. The instructor was a little more hands on, instructing whilst moving about. But she was also a little freer, in that she left the class free to make more choices about which level they wanted to take the yoga to, showing us beginner moves, intermediate moves, and advanced moves.
As always, I was impressed at the level of strength and fitness the instructors demonstrate. To see somebody casually demonstrate a one-legged squat, with the other leg folded over the thigh, with a demonstration of bad posture also thrown into the movement showed me just what can be achieved with enough dedication.
I had a stressful week last week. My trade union duties were full on, I’m not keeping up with the different meeting places around the country, or the dates. They are closing sites, and we are trying to keep them open. Management are making it difficult. My thoughts had started to bounce around again, from one thing to another. I was aware of it. My body felt tense, and on edge.
I was struggling with a hip stretch. Sitting on the mat, thinking, there is no movement here whatsoever, trying to lean forward into it. Sweating. My legs were shaking from the effort. I heard the instructor say, stretching the hips isn’t pretty. We carry so much emotional tension in that area. I wondered about that. Turned the idea over in my mind. Did it make sense? I was feeling a bit sad, and tired. My hips felt solid. Fused. Patience is needed. Practice. Calm. Dedication. We moved onto stretching out the back. Twisting around sideways from a sitting position. I realised how locked in my consciousness had been. On what I couldn’t do. I began to notice instead the lighting in the class. How it was blue and red and purple. I became aware of the other people in the class, how the light was shining on them whilst they stayed still, arms outstretched, all quietly focusing. A shared movement. There is a line in Hamlet, in his famous soliloquy, what a piece of work is a man…in movement how express and admirable. (I use my walk to work to learn poetry.) The red and blue soft lights lent the studio a dreamlike quality. The arms and hands outstretched in warrior two, looked just that…express and admirable.
There was ten minutes of the class left. The instructor used it as down time. Most of us lay with our legs outstretched vertical against the nearest wall. Then, we lay on our backs. The instructor turned the lights off. Again I became aware of a shared consciousness. Calm descended. It felt safe to be calm. People demand so much of one another. We do. Think about it. In our work lives, and in our interactions. We demand. We demand to be listened to and understood. We demand interest. We demand interesting conversation. We demand competence, and answers. We demand connection. Look at your drive to work. The frustration felt, caused by the demand that others do exactly as you want them to do on the roads. We demand perfection. Beyond that we live in a society where competition and not collaboration seems to be a key drive. Collaborative competition. A society where it feels normal and provokes no outrage when leaders of nations involve themselves in arms races, and destroy millions of lives through war. Where trillions are spent on weapons systems, while people starve. I feel tense even writing about it. But, here there was no demand. It was simply lying still, in a room, with other consciousnesses. No demands. Simple stillness.
On my walk home I felt lighter physically. It is true that we carry tension and even an accumulation of pain in our bodies and the workout had rid me of it. While I walked I thought about the weight of demand that has been placed on me since childhood. How difficult I find it to say no to anything. How being knocked about as a child made me acquiescent, but that acquiescence was won through threat, and noise and fear, and violence. I thought about how little peace I had in that family unit. How I carry that feeling of threat in my body. I discussed it in the week with my housemate. He said, we repeat patterns of behaviour, in order to try to fix the past. He comes across patients who show clear signs of this.
The yoga is working. I have begun to incorporate it into my daily practise, along with a meditation practise. The racing thoughts stopped in the same week. Don’t get me wrong, I am still medicated, and I have no intention of coming off the meds. At the beginning of the week I considered asking to increase my dose, but now, and for now, at least, I feel calm and centred.
I have incorporated yoga and meditation into my daily practise. I attend a class but am also using the Youtube course below. 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene:
For an accessible meditation course that builds on itself I am using Michelle Zarrin’s 20/20 meditate for peace, which begins with one minute of meditation, and builds up to 20 minutes. I use an App called Insight Timer on my phone. There is a link below:
You can read about the twenty day course here.
Just to be clear, I am not sponsored by anybody. I am just letting you know what my practise is.
Thanks for reading.