Every time I practice by myself in my apartment, I remember that I need to buy another mat to keep at home. This thought is usually pre-empted by, and always followed by, an insistent need to clean whatever floor area I am practicing on. This is not to say that my apartment is filthy or poorly maintained, just that there is something about repeatedly putting your forehead on your floor that makes everything you missed on the last clean sweep unpleasantly evident.
Today, I practiced on my bedroom floor. (Then I Febrezed the whole carpet.) I am only supposed to sweat “lightly” until this Saturday, because of my Lasik surgery, so I haven’t been going to my normal studio. In fact, I haven’t really been practicing at all. So today, I decided to challenge myself. I thought I would practice some of the more challenging poses and transitions that I have not yet successfully added to my repertoire.
As I hung out in wheel, lifting my right leg high over me and willing myself to keep pushing it forward until I flipped over into down dog, I realized that I was too afraid. My fear stopped the momentum in my legs short every single time. I did not believe that my body could do it. Finally, I came down to supta baddha konasana.
Through my admittedly brief study of Ayurveda, I have discovered that there is a lot of pitta in my body. (For a really brief but still awesome look at what that means, check out this website: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ayurveda-000348.htm.) Pitta, when out of balance, is characterized by hate and anger. I was a little surprised when I discovered this. I could see how I am easily aroused to anger, but I certainly don’t consider myself a hateful person. In fact, I am forgiving to a fault, and I am not prone to holding grudges.
As I lay in supta baddha konasana this evening, I discovered where the excess of these emotions was – toward myself. The self-directed rage and loathing in which I was stewing was almost palpable around me, like a fog that had descended my supine body. My practice had brought home another truth to me: I hate my body. I despise it for what it cannot do, for its injuries and inadequacies, for its failure to reach the ideals that I believe it should. For not flipping or sliding or powering with ease into the poses I see others attain.
I have to say that I was actually surprised by my discovery. I have had the same body-image issues that most girls face, and I have done the diets and the overexercise and the other forms of torture to which too many subject themselves. But overall, I would have said that I was doing okay with my body. I believed that I had accepted it. Until, that is, I couldn’t flip from wheel into down dog. I realized that my anger had shifted, from being primarily about what my body did not look like to what it did not do, but it was still there.
As I began to identify these emotions for what they were, a sense of sadness crept in. How long had I been hating myself with this much passion? A long time. There is a lot that has gone into my feelings toward my body – personal, familial, societal, environmental – but all of it has led me to a single question. How can I inspire myself to explore and achieve when all along I am expecting myself to fail, so that I can silently rail against myself once again?
The answer is that I can’t. I need to get rid of the anger and the hate – to work past it – because let’s face it, I’m stuck in here. And if I’m going to enjoy it, I have to find a way to fall in love with my body. Without the anger and the hate, I might even be able to work on the fear. The next thing you know, I might be flipping back and forth between wheel and down dog! Hey, a girl can dream…