Self-practise, an act of self-care

At about 10am last Tuesday I got real with myself, I’d spent the morning mat dodging and it wasn’t the first time. When I asked myself why I was deep cleaning the fridge rather than being on my mat an answer came. The day before I demonstrated something in class that I obviously wasn’t warm enough to do and I still had a niggle in my lower back. That morning I didn’t want to feel my body because I wasn’t up for hearing what it has to say. I knew that as soon as I tuned into sensation my anxiety would jump at the chance to deliver up all the worst case scenarios about what this niggle might turn into.  

By avoiding my mat I was putting my hand up to my body to say ‘no I don’t want to hear what you have to say today thanks, I’d prefer to continue being disconnected from you at this precise moment’. Another reminder that my self-practise isn’t about improving my alignment or skill it’s about listening to my body, and that my relationship to my self-practise is just that, a relationship. We have good days and bad days, there’s commitment involved and at times avoidance tactics are brought into play to swerve being forced to face up to something.  

In the end I did decided to show up, I moved very slowly and had my eyes closed most of the time and it felt good to listen in. As usual my perception of the situation was worse than the reality, upon looking a bit closer I saw that that what was going on wasn’t as bad as I’d thought.

This episode really brought home to me the fact that my self-practise is about holding space for myself, to feel and to listen, it’s a prayer of compassion and kindness to my whole, a process of peace keeping between my body and mind. I don’t however always experience this harmonious magic when I practise, sometimes the most beautiful feeling of coming home washes over me when I come into childs pose and from then it just flows and other times it’s kind of messy and feels like I’m moving through sludge. 

Like any relationship that I have hope for I must nurture my self-practise, that means not neglecting it even when I can’t be bothered to show up. It also means fighting against the urge to avoid it if I don’t want to face up to something. I’ve also realised that I shouldn’t feel disheartened when not every interaction flows because expecting a continuous flow of harmony for any relationship is completely unrealistic. Realising this has been a hugely liberating experience, my practise is not about making beautiful shapes on a mat, working my body or perfecting my bound ardha chandrasana, it’s an act of self-care, a process of healing. There are no expectations or rules, showing up is all I have to do.