How long is long? I guess it depends on who you ask, but for me it has been nearly a year. For someone who practiced several times a week for years, it has been a difficult separation.
I stopped for many reasons — a gimpy knee, household budget cuts, a crazy schedule — and I’d almost reached the point that I worried I may never go back.
Tonight I took a level 1 class. Easy, beginner-level poses to test my strength, see how the knee would feel in some deeper lunges and basically to answer the question “Can I still do this?”
In the spirit of this blog, I set my intention at the beginning of class to simply observe my practice, doing my level best not to judge myself while I was doing it. I was determined to listen to my body as I moved through basic poses.
Turns out my body had a lot to say.
- My stomach hurt. Not in any big way, but the general acidity of too many thoughtless meals scarfed down in a hurry for the past week. It wanted a break. And some real food.
- My knee could handle the high lunges just fine, but low lunges cause some serious pain. I didn’t fret about it, but simply modified the pose with blocks to take some of the pressure off. I was also somewhat stunned to realize that the tight muscles on the inside of my knee were creating a pull on the outside of my ankle. After months of recurring ankle pain, I can’t believe I’d never made that connection before.
- My body remembers, and it positively gloried the stretching and the pranayama. Pushing back into to downward dog, reaching forward in pigeon, leveling a soft, steady gaze over my finger tips in a rock-solid warrior… the months away from the mat didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was this moment.
My return to the mat was a much-needed reminder that living in my body is so much better than simply living in my head.
Photo taken with the iPhone in very low light, hence the graininess. No filters, no adjustments.