Today marks Day 14 of my 101-day yoga challenge. 2 weeks in and I walked into class exhausted with pain in my lower back and hamstrings. After I told the teacher, Kathryn, about this, she wished me healing and the class that followed brought those words to life.
So far, after practicing Bikram yoga for 14 days straight, I am experiencing pain that I can only call “diagnostic”. My lower back was aching and my always tight hamstrings did not want to comply. This discomfort forced me to look at how I hold myself through the postures and leave myself open to soreness and eventual injury.
To protect my lower back, I need to suck my stomach in during forward bends. I have not been doing this with integrity. I wasn’t really thinking about it. Also, instead of being kind to my body, I’ve tried to force it be “perfect”. Instead of bending my knees when my hams need a break, I pushed. So we ended up sore hamstrings and lower back facing my 14th class.
With the wish for healing, I embarked on my 90-minute moving meditation with compassion. I didn’t work any less hard than I do on my best days, I just made sure that I sucked my stomach in for dear life and bent those knees when I encountered any hamstring soreness.
Surprisingly, practicing with compassion produced one of the best standing head to knees during this challenge. That posture, which I have difficulty with, was my strongest all because I sucked my stomach in. Something so simple makes a huge difference. Without it I have a terrible lower back and hamstrings. With it I got the greatest gifts during today’s session, healing and strength.
Amazingly, my lower back felt great after class! While the hamstrings stay tight and require finessing, the lower back was back to normal–better than normal. Now, after class, I also realize that the chair that I sit on to type this into my computer isn’t doing my back any good either so I will have to adjust it. That is the point of this practice–of this challenge–is to notice the tiniest things and improve my life and my body in infinitesimal increments.
To change my life or my body, I don’t have to barrel my way to breakthroughs. Instead, using precision, one small step after another can produce huge results. I’m looking forward to exponential, compounded miracles.