Rainbow MagnifiCat – Kitten does Child pose (ish)
Much as I love actual yoga asana practice, the biggest gift it’s given me is to tune into how I need to move even when not doing yoga (that makes it sound like I spend hours a day doing yoga and that the time I spend hunched over my laptop or sitting/standing is less common – the opposite is truer.)
I used to not know how to move at all. That sounds melodramatic but, having been really sporty (gymnastics, baseball etc) as a kid, I remember going through a phase when I was about 13 where I couldn’t walk properly.
My arms would be rigidly held by my side but when people pointed it out, I didn’t know what they were talking about as it felt natural. As in, I knew I wasn’t doing it ‘right’ but had no clue how to do this most simple of movements.
A super-confident friend of mine showed me how to walk. I remember her showing me how to swing the opposite arm with leg and my pretending to be normal.
But it’s really only in the past decade or so that I’ve learned to not care so much. Sure, a part of me is mortified to remember last Saturday night’s gallops (like a small child playing Horses) at a party while others followed the dance instructions with way more elegance but it was So Much Fun, I didn’t care.
Similarly, when I attended ballet classes for adults in my 20s (and Salsa and Line Dancing in my 30s), I felt like a female Frankenstein’s monster. But it was all a lot of fun. And any kind of dance or yoga class, where we’re learning new ways to time and co-ordinate movement, helps create new neural pathways, encourages neuroplasticity and can strengthen the cerebellum.
Similarly, when the garden’s dry enough for cartwheels and handstands against the wall, I honour my body’s wish do move in this way and ignore potential embarrassment. (I dare you to try and keep a straight, serious face while cartwheeling – bet you won’t be able to stop beaming. And, if the idea of such movement doesn’t make you smile, don’t do it – pay attention to your own body not what anyone else is saying.)
So even if you have no intention of ever attending a yoga class, I hope you’ll take a moment to just tune into what will help you right now.
Standing up and stretching?
Having a mini dance break?
Having a nap?
Going for a run/swim/bike ride/walk/climb?
Even doing some push ups?
Watching Rainbow charging around like one of the kittens (seriously, for a tiny beast, she sounds like a horse) of the apocalypse one minute then snoozing the next, I know I have a long way to go but even on days when movement is more restricted, honouring that later with a swim or longer yoga practice makes it all OK.
Image (c) Eve Menezes Cunningham 2014