Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Forward Fold

Oh, January.

Sorry to you Capricorns and Aquariuses (Aquariai?) out there, but for me, January is a throw-away month.

One reason is that I live in Chicago and, well:

Yep, I changed my social media names, you smarties.
Big changes to come once my soul unfreezes.

But there are other factors, too. The holidays knock me off kilter: I stop exercising, I binge on gluten. I've also had a few blows to my system in the last few months; this Aries saw the words "tension between two planets" in her monthly horoscope email and knowingly deleted it without needing to read the rest. So I was feeling pretty low by the time the New Years Eve countdown started. There was no resolution this year, unless you count just hanging in there.

But I've been here before. Last winter when the skies went grey and the city got pounded with sleet and wind, I experienced the same quiet panic, the same dimness in spirit.

So I knew just what to do. Lots of quiet time. Ginger tea with honey before bed, lots of exercise for a happy Henley, clean sheets, and...you know where this is going.

Back to yoga I went.


I can always tell how long it's been since I've been on the mat by how tight my hamstrings are in forward fold.

And you guys, it was bad. Really bad. Basically like I was starting from scratch, post-back injury.

In a vinyasa class, where you "flow" or move quickly and repetitively from pose to pose, you come to forward fold over and over again. I normally love the vinyasa style because it both challenges your endurance and creates a rhythm that's easy to lose yourself in. Vinyasa yoga usually helps you forget, but coming to forward fold 20 or 30 times in an hour was reminder after reminder of how far I'd let myself slip.

At first I tried to force it by making my legs poker straight and lunging my chest at the floor. Ouch, no bueno. When that didn't work, I bent my knees a lot and touched the floor...but missed out on the hammy stretch. I just didn't feel right, no matter how I contorted myself or how much I strained.


This weekend, I was one of two people who showed up for a hot vinyasa class during the blizzard and the Super Bowl. Without dozens of other people in the room (enjoy your guacamole, people), I was more aware of my body--I wanted to have good form so the teacher wouldn't correct me too much--and also hyper-aware of my thoughts. And a funny thing happened. I got sick of myself. The repetition eventually became my friend, because every time I found myself in forward fold, I couldn't bear any more contorting or flinging. I couldn't bear any more wallowing or disappointment. I choose, instead, to look at it as an opportunity to be looser, to let go, to quite literally hang in there. Each time I found myself in forward fold, I thought, I've been here before. I know just what to do.

"Hanging in there" became my intention during each class this week, and tonight I touched the floor with both hands firmly planted on the mat. The hamstring gods sung a sweet hymn.

I don't know if it's the happy hammies or if maybe mercury is going into retrograde (ha), but tonight I feel light. Like maybe it's going to be alright after all. Like maybe I believe spring is actually coming. Like maybe I can remember what it's like on the other side of heartbreak.

I still have February to go, yes, but I've been here before.

P.S. This is exactly how I feel about winter.