I almost didn’t go to yoga last night. I had a headache and my sinuses were stuffy with the drip that makes you cough now and again but not all the time. I was tired and my stomach hurt and I was probably a little grumpy.
During the session, I fluctuated between feeling frustrated and slightly embarrassed. While everyone else focused on deep, smooth breathing through their noses, I tried to avoid sneezing and/or coughing and to maintain some sort of dignity.
During the warrior poses (spread your feet very far apart and crouch/lunge with your arms out), which stretch your legs and sides, I had discomfort in my left shoulder. I couldn’t begin to explain why. My stomach distracted me from my heavy breathing during the twisting motions, and my wrists and hands ached during the move from downward facing dog (on your hands and feet with your butt way up in the air) to plank (on your hands and feet without your butt up in the air).
Instead of making me more aware of my body in a positive way, yoga reminds me just how much my body hates me. I can flash a smile, turn on the charm, and lead a meeting of 300 people with smashing success, but by late afternoon my introverted self will be so drained from the performance that I’ll be in bed that evening nursing a migraine. When my sinuses are unhappy, they yawn continuously until I find a decongestant, interrupting all sorts of fun outings that might make you miss your sinus pills (dinner with friends this past Saturday night, for example). Over these last twenty-seven years and 358 days I’ve learned how to manage it. I always have ibuprofen and pepto-bismol on hand. I avoid breaded foods and make some kind of vegetable-filled soup for lunch nearly every day. I know how to make the important things happen. I just don’t know how to make my body like me.
Intellectually I know what to do: work out more regularly, drink more water, limit processed foods and sugars, increase fruits and vegetables. This is why I signed up for yoga in the first place. The activity will be good for me. I’m sticking with the plan and waiting for the benefits to come. But in this beginning stage, while I’m trying to find the kind of balance that works for my life and my fitness level and my budget, my body doesn’t really know what to do and my brain doesn’t really know what to do either.