Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Stiffness in the mind

A week or two ago, I was telling Sir that I felt stiff that day, and he replied that stiffness is mainly in the mind. Well, I thought, he's never been inside my shoulders. But the seed was planted in my mind, and I have been mulling it over of late. Is the stiffness I feel a physical thing? Or is it mainly something I am perceiving in my monkey mind? Does it even matter in my practice whether or not I "feel" stiff?

Today I came to class "feeling" stiff. The resistance to practice was there, but I didn't listen to the noise. I just got on the bus and went downtown. As I was walking over to the shala, I felt anxiety about how stiff I was feeling, and I was wondering how sucky my practice would be as a result.

Once I got onto my mat though, I decided to explore Sir's suggestion, that stiffness is a mindset, not a physical fact. And by "explore", what I mean is that I simply ignored the "stiffness" and practiced.

A couple of times I felt a fear of discomfort, like the first time I put my hands on the floor in Uttanasana, and the first half-lotus of Ardha Baddha. But acknowledging the fear, I just went on with my practice.

Notwithstanding my "perception" of stiffness, my practice was loose and easy. And I realized that stiffness, for me at least, is a fear of discomfort. It has nothing to do with, and it is not a reflection of, what's really going on in my joints, in my muscles, in my tendons.

Sure, there will be times when it will be more difficult to get into certain poses. But THINKING about it beforehand - that's not stiffness. That's fear.



Jody said...

This ones a keeper!!!

yoga chickie said...

thanks jody! glad you had a great practice today!

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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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