Yoga and the Cultivation of a Relationship with Your Body by Carey McNeilly
Let’s talk about relationships. We have many- with friends, parents, partners, our children, our work, food, the world around us, and even with ourselves. Today, I want to hone in on the latter:
What is your relationship like with your physical body?
Your body will more than likely answer that question before your brain does. Perhaps as you hear that question, your eyes open and move towards the ceiling in a posture of wondering and questioning: you’ve never thought about that before. Maybe you will feel a bubbling in your chest and a heat flooding your face and head if this question elicits anger. Perhaps you will feel nothing- a numbness, a detachment. You want nothing to do with your body. For many, that question may bring a cringe; your eyes shut, your head turns to the side, your mouth flattens to a grimace, you hug your shoulders in toward one another as though you could fold your body into itself and hide. Shame.
As with any relationship, connection (or disconnection) to one’s body is a nuanced, convoluted, complicated, inconsistent, living, growing, active, emotional, challenging, shaping, and potentially beautiful thing. It is full of the both/and, rather than the either/or. It is full, in short, of paradox.
“…only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life.”
If the above is true, then within the body dwells the potential for discovery of fullness of life, for within the body dwells such paradox. The body is physically vulnerable, prone to injury and pain. But the body is also resilient, able to engage in the healing of a cut, a bruise, an infection. The body contains both strength and softness. Our bones are hardened in their sturdy framework by calcium phosphate; but they are also softened by collagen, enabling them to bend and flex. The body is not only physical, but inextricably connected to our emotions and psyche. Our jaw can hold anger, our hips can hold fear, our shoulders can hold stress, our stomachs can hold shame.
our jaw can hold our authentic voice, our hips can hold courage, our shoulders can hold softness, our stomachs can hold freedom.
The body can be a place of pain and beauty, life and death, old and new, letting go and moving on, grief and celebration. Too often we separate these things, but what if we invited them all in together? What if, as Rumi says in the poem below, we invite them all in as guides from beyond?
Yoga is about health, yes, It is place to stretch, to strengthen, to meditate, to rest. It can also be a place of healing; of cultivating a deeper and richer relationship between the body and the emotions, the psyche, the thoughts, the spirit. It can be a place of moving physically through guided postures in reflection of moving emotionally through whatever the body may be holding. It can be a place where the practitioner is empowered to lay hold of the strength, courage, and beauty that is already present within them. Yoga is a practice, not perfection. It is an invitation, not a demand. It is an open door and a way through, not finality.
Come practice, move, and discover with us! There is a place for you here.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Take a class with Carey, check out her schedule, here.