‘Doing’ Yoga When You Can’t ‘Do’ Yoga….

So, it’s January the 23rd. I have left the house twice, other than for medical appointments, since Boxing Day. My yoga mat remains rolled, beside the sofa. In a way, simply looking at it comforts me. Just imagining the feel of my palms against its wonderfully, worn surface fills me with calm. But don’t get me wrong – I would rather be on it; moving, flowing, sweating, breathing. However, seeing as I currently cannot walk or stand upright, my physical practice couldn’t be further from my capabilities. But does that mean that my yoga practice has to dwindle? How can I sustain my practice, cultivating stronger, less physical pathways and explore new ways to embrace my yoga?

More and more and more meditation. This enforced stillness lends itself to meditation wonderfully. I have the time to devote to the development of this exploration but, more importantly, I need it now more than ever to combat the ever-present anxiety around the uncertainty of my condition. Many years ago I remember hearing the phrase, ‘Find your faith before you need it.’ I liked that. It resonated. But, of course, it’s only now that I see the idea playing out in my own life. The last twenty years of walking the path of yoga, self-inquiry, meditation and studying were quietly building my inner strength, fortifying myself, without me knowing. Having always suffered from fluctuating emotions, anxiety, sadness, pathological negativity and introspection, it is nothing short of miraculous that I am able to deal with my current situation with such calm trust and emotional equanimity! Clearly what has been going on behind the scenes of my practice is now bubbling to the surface; patience, understanding, self-care. Having caught a glimpse of the real power of meditation I am hungry to explore more. Obviously, sitting is too painful. That was hurdle number one. Previously I had always found meditating, or even doing guided relaxations, super impossible when lying down. In a seated meditation, with a stable, rooted foundation and self-supporting spine, you are sending a strong message of alert awareness to yourself. This is not a posture of sleep but of curiosity, energising breath and switched on and finely tuned senses. However, the minute I lay down, no matter how hard I tried to maintain all of those things, my brain would override with drowsiness and thoughts of sleep. In the current situation I had no choice but to go with the flow. So, lying down it is. Even that is painful. I pad the floor with cushions but my pelvis screams with the tilt. I move to semi supine and let my knees rest against each other. On good days I can manage supine BK but that’s rare. Most often I lie on the sofa under a blanket. I am managing more meditation a day than ever. With each one it’s easier to slip into that place, that magic, difficult place that’s impossible to describe and can only be reached by putting in the hours. Sometimes my mind is crazy, leaping about completely out of control. Once upon a time I would sigh and give up, filled with anger and frustration, but I am learning to remain, regardless, and believe me this feels big. To resist the urge to run, to counter the fight or flight engrained within. To stay still, breathing deeply, while the crazy happens. And somehow, magically, I discover I can ride the wave of fear and pain, that outside of this tiny sphere of my existence, the cosmos is expanding, trees are silently growing, breathing is happening and one day, when my body is ready, I will be back on my mat, strong on the outside as well as the inside.