Practice what you preach

In my yoga classes I often say to my students 'listen to your body and be kind to yourself' and I really mean it. Unfortunately I am only just beginning to hear this wisdom and act upon it for myself, and only because my body has gone into crisis. It has left me no choice.

Each day I wake up, stand up, and a wave of tension and pain establishes itself in my right leg. Calves, hamstrings and more lock on tight. My pelvis tilts to accommodate this pull then my core muscles fire on in a futile attempt to rebalance. Over the course of the day the tension creeps up into my psoas, piriformis and quadratus lumborum, pulling my body down onto itself in a crooked hunch. My breath actively tries to move away from the pain area, creating tension in my diaphragm, shoulders, back and neck. At the end of the day I go to bed, the tension reluctantly eases off a little as I sleep. Then I wake up and the story unfolds in the same way.

 Thor at my brother's wedding in New York in December, when I first noticed the pain.  

Thor at my brother's wedding in New York in December, when I first noticed the pain.  

Now, five months too late (when my leg first began to ache and tighten) or maybe three years too late (when the first of my two sons was born and I started to expect much more of myself and my body and put myself last in the queue) I have descended deep enough into despair and worry to sit up (painfully) take notice and take action. This is a pattern of mine. I often have to be humbled or broken down to really start looking after myself. A part of me firmly believes in the phrase 'pain pushes until wisdom pulls'. A part of me feels guilty for taking time for myself and will seek to sabotage self-nurture (believing I am not worthy). I have high expectations of myself and a powerful slave driver/inner critic who will get my head down, push me on and drive me forward, ignoring the warning signals for as long as I can get away with it. Needless to say this does not serve to create balance and harmony in my life. It does get things done but it is unsustainable and now I face the reality of that unsustainability.

The emotional process that I am being drawn into (or can no longer avoid) is complex, difficult and excruciatingly vulnerable. But more on that in a later blog post.

Ben Parkes3 Comments