On Conversing With My Body
“… and I said to my body, softly “I want to be your friend.” It took a long breath and replied, “I have been waiting my whole life for this.” – Nayyirah Wood
What if I told you that your body is speaking to you? And what if I told you that you can learn it’s language and you can reply. This is my unfolding journey.
I am a yoga teacher and practitioner (you probably know that,) and we work in the realm of body, movement and breath. I am so very thankful for the hatha yoga practice, it has been my life-blood for over 20 years but I believe that in moving too fast I have been missing a part of the conversation.
It is, in actuality, work that I have been doing outside of my usual asana practice that has been tuning me in; What happens to me in the flotation tank, what I see happen when I massage, the somatics work I have been doing with Liz Koch as well my meditation practice. I think I had to remove myself from the land and language of Asana and immerse myself in a new land and language to tune in.
And within this new land and language, what I have found is this: That my body is constantly speaking to me in the language of sensation. I believe that most of us only hear this conversation when the body is shouting and when this happens, we don’t know how to reply because 1. It is very hard to talk to somebody who is shouting and 2. We haven’t learnt it’s language, we don’t know how to reply.
But we can hear and we can reply; Through the power of deep, internal awareness, we pick up this conversation earlier, when it is whispering softly and delicately to us, like understanding a few stolen words in a new language, much remains a mystery but we start to feel into its meaning. With practice, the language becomes clearer. And we learn this language by going deeper with awareness, the deeper we go, the more we can hear.
And we can reply; With movement and breath. Not necessarily big, prescriptive movements, but small, internal adjustments focused on hearing more clearly – not movement to fix or move away from what the body is saying, that would be going back into the old pattern of fingers in the ears “I can’t hear you,” and I, for one have been doing that for too long. And breath, definitely, breath. It happens for me on exhale and especially in the precious pause between breaths. It is, for me, in those moments that the sweetest conversation takes place.
I am thankful that within the scope of being an Anusara teacher I have the space to be able to live these realisations in my own body and in my teaching. And I know that some of my students will have noticed a small shift, some longer holds here and there, an increasingly common offering from me to close their eyes and dive within. As yoga teachers we grow and shift and we are ever thankful for the students who come with us on our journey. Whether you are a student or teacher of yoga (there is actually, no difference,) I’d love to hear from you; What resonates? Do you have any offerings for me in my attempt at learning this new language? And if this whole idea is new to you I’d like to offer you a short practice:
Get yourself into an asana in which you have some level of sensation but which is comfortable enough to hold for 5-10 minutes. Close your eyes. Center on your breath. Now, with eyes closed, dive into sensation – If you allow it, your awareness will guide you to exactly where it needs to be and usually it will lead you to the densest area, the area where you need to work. Then get interested, like really, really interested in what is happening there. Once you have heard it, begin to speak back to it with breath. On the exhale thank it but tell it that it can let go now. Sometimes the surrender will be short lived, like flipping your pillow over on a hot night. Sometimes it will let go quickly and deliciously like taking off a heavy bag and sometimes it will melt slowly like a block of hard butter melting in the sun. This is how it usually is for me, and it’s like my awareness is the sun – I can increase the intensity of the sun’s rays by going deeper, melting the butter into a puddle. And explore also, those magic spaces between breaths, what happens if you keep letting go in those?
This slow unfolding, this whole process of learning how to speak this new language that I know but somehow forgot becomes so enthralling that every delicious moment is a joy – the good, the bad, the ugly, the questions, the answers, the mind-boggling mystery of it all. And I get so immersed in the joy that I almost forget that I’m doing any kind of practice at all.
“I ask you to have patience with all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like closed rooms, like books written in a foriegn language. Don’t try to find all the answers now. They cannot be given anyway, because you would not be able to live them… Live the questions now. Perhaps you then may gradually, without noticing, one day in the future live into the answers.” – Rainer Maria Rilke