The other morning Eva came into my room to chat as I was putting salty water in my plastic pottle for jala neti. In my jovial jest I split a significant slosh all over the floor. “Careful,” she cautioned, her maternal mannerisms coming out. “Make sure you don’t slip.”
Of course, two minutes later in my haste and hurry, I plodded in the puddle and absolutely bailed.
As I lay on the cold concrete floor I cursed myself. I gingerly waggled my finger, calves, thighs and arms, feeling only a slight stabbing sensation in my left knee and rib so up I sprung and set off for class.
It was only when I was guiding through asanas yesterday and admonishing my students one of my ultimate utterances: “Respect your body. Listen to it and honour its cues” that it struck me; I disrepute my body on the daily in a bid to be the best. Regardless of any muscular pains, tensions or aches, I make myself strain to the limit to show off and improve on the day before’s attempts.
And then I suffer.
I have a meaty bruise on my left knee (quite proud of its heady hue actually). My rib today is agonising. I can’t sit up without grimacing and I feel like someone is shanking me with shards of glass whenever I twist. Yet this morning, up I still went in chakrasana, the wheel pose. I’m an idiot.
Showing off? Yes. Wanting to arch higher than anyone else? Affirmative. Being an imbossal? Absolutely.
And last night when I went to bed I paid for yesterday’s punishing pushing of myself. A consistent stomach sleeper, nodding off proved painful. I can’t even say I tossed and turned because I was rendered incapable of moving.
I’ve openly disclosed that my respect for my body up to this point has been severely lacking. What with more than a decade of eating-disordered behaviours, I definitely haven’t taken proper care of myself. But it’s only now I realise it’s at a much more basic level too. I don’t listen to my body.
You can’t compete, perform or even function at an improved level or plain on par on a day-to-day basis. Some mornings your back may be stiff and a movement that you were insanely flexible in last night is incapable to do. Maybe you ran a couple of kilometres in a certain time last week; just because you didn’t again today doesn’t mean you’ve gone backwards.
Our philosophy teacher, Ram Gee, (must point out the “gee” here means guru or teacher, not along the lines of “bro”) was teaching about koshas or bodies a few days ago. He drew a simple diagram on the board of the four stages of life; 0-20 years old as the growing and construction period, 21-40 as the maintainance period, 41-60 as the susceptible period and 60-80 as the decaying period. He passionately proclaimed that the second stage, i.e where I’m at now, is insanely important to be treated properly because if not, disease and ailments manifest in the next step of the quadrant. It really woke me up and made me realise that all I do now I will either pay for or thank myself for in another decade or so. I don’t want to be hunched over and fragile at thirty.
I really really need to take note of my body. I stress to others not to strain and to take it easy should they not be feeling A-OK, yet regardless of if I feel on or off point I make myself complete a disciplined work out.
This afternoon we did a flow sequence moving from trikonasana to warrior II and so forth. I felt my rib tweak and my knee turn in and tremble from my sudden 3km sprint (next post). So I pulled back and sat in child’s pose.
That’s the first time ever I’ve acknowledged my body’s inability at the time to do something and withdraw.
I felt weak. Incompetent. Inept. I blatantly rubbed my knee and rib so that all the others were well aware I wasn’t just giving up, my body was injured and I couldn’t continue.
Then I looked around.
Oce and John were lying back in shavasana. Govind had his knee on the ground as he was unable to hold it up. Another girl had her palms on the floor. They were all in tune with themselves and accepting their body’s shortcomings. They weren’t weak.
They were smart.
I need to learn be attentive and take heed of how i feel and act accordingly. It’s not being feeble or fragile or lazy. It’s loving and taking care of yourself.