Body Integration

January 25, 2011 § 3 Comments

Reverb10 – Body Integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

September 2010

Isn’t it lucky that T took a picture of this very moment that comes to mind? I worked on headstands for most of 2010 – starting with very tentative efforts, just getting used to pressure on my head with my feet & knees still on the floor, progressing to balancing knees on elbows in tripod position, and eventually to the briefest moments of feet in the air.

Headstand is constantly changing for me and is an excellent example of my increasing body awareness and control. I can sustain it now. I have had a good fall (make that a couple now!) and survived. Tripod variation used to be easier, now supporting on my forearms is easier than tripod. I finally understand what it means when my teacher says “press down to lift UP” as I apply pressure evenly along my arms, wrists and hands and lift my hips ever so slightly higher using that base. Each week there are subtle differences in my body in this pose: more shoulder action, more core connection, a smidge more stability, more vertical lift, and my feet! I just found them recently after focusing on all my other joints & muscles – There they are! Flex & Point! And now I’m beginning work on leg variations (a shaky baddha konasana &  straddle, knees into chest, dropping into a backbend).

This pose is not something I had on my life list. It was something I could do for a brief window of time in my childhood and never really considered doing since. And here I am, loving it. I didn’t understand what the deal was with headstands, but when I returned to class and my teacher introduced me – it scared the crap out of me, but I wanted to try it. And in that first (stable) tripod weeks later, when I wasn’t blinded by the effort, the pressure on my head and my shaking muscles (and trying to remember to breathe!) – my vision cleared and I saw the floor, my mat, the back wall, the room – UPSIDE DOWN!* I *got* it. It is a big perspective shift, literally and figuratively. Nothing is where it’s supposed to be, and the fact that I was actually supporting my body weight in an entirely different way amazed me. I loved it. And then suddenly this thing that I never imagined doing, became something that maybe I could do someday… A possibility. And the possibility grew into a probability and here we are. In order to get up and stay up, I have to be incredibly aware of my surroundings and all the internal motions of my body. I have to be completely in the moment, body & mind working in tandem, letting everything else go.

The first time I did a headstand on the beach (july-ish, very shaky!), I knew I would long for an opportunity to do it again (and the above photo was it – a perfect day with my best friend). Take the perspective shift and add water and a horizon where they shouldn’t be – awesome. On this day, I felt strong, solid, unfazed by doing something “weird” in public, loving applying my muscles, feeling my strength, the air on my skin, the warm sand under my skull, seeing the water & sky & occasional person walking by. Hearing the waves and T saying “cool, I’ve never seen you do that!” This all may sound like a lot of nonsense and that’s ok. It kind of sounded like a whole lot of hogwash to me too.

December 2010 – Much stronger – still building… And those boots were HEAVY! I should practice with them more often!

I would love to hear any of your experiences – I think this body integration can happen in any activity, or even passively (massage or bath?) And I think recognizing it (for me) has done a lot for being in my body and loving it. For what it can do, for it’s possibilities and for it’s limitations.

§ 3 Responses to Body Integration

  • tini says:

    WOW!

    I think, the moment I was most aware of what my body can do, is when I was in labour. I did not have ANY control of what my body was doing and it was painfull but I knew that the body was capable of coping (o.k. in the end I did not make it all the way thru but still).

  • mel says:

    Such a PERFECT example Tini 🙂

  • Rachel says:

    I will have to think on my own example…and the fact that it doesn’t come to me right away, I will admit, is disheartening to me. And speaks volumes of how far away I’ve traveled from a physical side that used to be a major part of who I am. I believe firmly it’s still there and so am slowly working on rediscovering it. Yoga, while I’m still fumbling my way through, is helping me in ways I never thought possible. Helping me build a sturdy base (making joints move freely and feel stronger etc as well as mentally) to move on to more other physically demanding things. When I was 20, I’m not sure I would have appreciated yoga’s role in my life (physically or mentally), but at this stage, every day I appreciate it a little more.

    It seems appropriate to share here…when in class, my teacher constantly reminds me to relax my shoulders. It’s where I carry all my stress and so try as I might, nothing changes. I finally asked her what I could do to help…she pointed me in the direction of a chair-supported headstand (which technically is a should stand I guess). I immediately fell in love with being upside down. With all the weight on my shoulders, i can’t stay there for more than a few minutes at a time until those muscles start learning to respond and relax, but for some reason, that makes me feel powerful, alert and alive. So I perhaps understand your headstand even if I’m not at that level yet!

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