After days of little to no movement, I finally got the chance to stretch my limbs this morning in a Hatha Yoga class.
For a good 75 minutes, I felt like a kitty cat being put through its paces (to mix the mammalian metaphors). A week of curling up in mostly fetal positions had welded my hip and shoulder blade muscles into sheets of corrugated iron—and I felt the creak of unwilling metal every time I sank into a low lunge or opened up into a back bend.
Apart from the occasional coughing fit, the entire thing had felt gloriously…liberating (the Downward Dogs had felt literally divine).
It felt like practicing yoga again for the first time, but with the benefit of years of body awareness. It was movement coupled with wonder (“so this is what tightness here feels like…”), curiosity (“why are my hamstrings loose?”) and appreciation (“oh wow, I can still bind my wrists”). Of course, my breath was laughably shallow, but at least I didn’t have to prop my chest up in Savasana.
Until I’m fully recovered, a gentle practice is probably all I can do. But for the first time ever, I’m actually in a space to enjoy the gentleness of a gentle practice. For the first time, it doesn’t feel like a cop-out, a demotion or a grudgingly-accepted replacement of my usual practice. For the first time ever, it actually feels right.
And strangely enough, this sense that I can afford to be gentle comes from a knowledge and appreciation of my own body’s resilience and strength. Just give me some time, is what it’s been telling me. You’ll be up again one day standing on your head and throwing your legs up against the wall. Just not now and just not yet.
So yes, it’s kitty cat days for me: snooze, stretch; snooze, slink away.
They’re pretty good days, I have to say.