You wouldn't expect a wild animal to eat out of your hand right away.  Similarly, the body of a beginner needs a patient and gradual approach.  Today as I was leading the class I was struck by the thought that in the beginner the body is often very much disconnected from the mind.  We live in our heads so much that the body has its own life and becomes in a sense wild again, feral and skittish. 

In order to coax it back we need to be gentle, patient, and respectful in our interaction with it - add new things gradually, never force or push.  When we are trying to reconnect with the body, we need to establish a relationship of trust again, and that can be hard to do when there has been an injury or you haven't taken good care of yourself for a while and there is pain or discomfort in the body.  We feel reproach towards the body: "How could you let me down?", and the body, too, has complaints of its own: "Where have you been all this time?  Why do I have to shout for you to hear me?"

When we are practicing Yoga, let's be quiet and listen intently to every subtle sensation.  Let's take the time to get to know ourselves a little better.  When moving into new shapes and positions, advance gradually, and be friendly.  Be a new best friend to your body.

This is actually how Yoga Therapy works - Vinyasa Krama, or gradual steps towards a goal, allow the body to begin to feel confident again.  It is as if we are saying to it: "See, if you make this small step, nothing bad happens.  As a matter of fact, you feel better.  So, let's take another step just a little further this time.  And let's go only as far as we like and as feels good."

When practiced with this attitude, your Yoga practice can be enormously healing.  Set the bar low - tell yourself that you will do just one thing this week that is good for you.  Frame it in positive terms, such as: "I will do Cat/Cow this week every day," instead of "I will not be lazy."  Use positive language!

Real Yoga practice does not happen in a group class.  There you come to learn proper alignment, sequencing, to be observed by the teacher who can guide you to safer variations.  But that is not Yoga yet.  Yoga happens when you are alone, doing a small act of breath or movement or stillness and observing the effects.  Real Yoga practice should cultivate self-discipline and self-responsibility.

One small step at a time, you can soothe the feral body and make it your home again.  Let's go!


Anna M.