Every morning I’m learning something new about my body. I’m learning something new about each of these dozens of poses I’ve practiced for years and years. Small changes in approach, internal shifts and small movements to minimize pain.
I’ve never been that much of a stickler on alignment. Well, of course I’m all about injury prevention, but when (for example) my instructor said to bring my chin to my shin in Krounchasana, I never questioned whether or not my spine was perfectly straight or if I was sinking down into my sacrum rather than lifting up out of it. And now I must. So the chin is often inches from the shin and the pose is incomplete, but the spine is straight and the breath is soft (not ragged with pain), and so it feels good.
Same in Janu Sirsasana, Paschimottanasana, pretty much every forward bend. If my lower back is overly curved, there is pain. Pull the chest forward, pull out of the low back and sacrum, strong uddiyana bandha = soft breath, no pain.
And in backbends, I can no longer depend on the ease and flexibility of my lower back and just hang out and love every breath. Instead, I have to focus. Internally rotate thighs, release glutes, press into shoulders, engage front body, oh! Here we go again! Release glutes!! Engage front body!! Press into shoulders!! INTERNALLY ROTATE THIGHS!!!
Because if I don’t, it hurts.
Similarly, I can no longer hang out in my dropbacks. I used to languish in that long, slow descent. No longer. It’s become all about bending the legs and getting the hands to the floor without jamming the sacrum.
This is exciting. Sure, it’s not necessarily what everyone wants for themselves… injury is never fun. But each morning is an opportunity to learn something new to help me out of pain.
I leave for Portland tomorrow. I’ve mapped out and scheduled my shala visits for the following four days. And I’m extremely excited about that, too.