Like the song says, ” I feel good” and yes, at least a part of me “knew that I would.” But I also feel so “not good” that sometimes I can actually forget that good part completely. Today I’ve been trying to remember what really feels good to me in life. Like, what physically feels good. I know I love the touch of my baby’s skin, the sun on my face, the stubble on my husband’s chin, my old Lulu mat squishing between my fingers in downward dog. But those are all external things. They are reliant on someone or something else providing that experience. It is actually pretty hard to figure out what feels good inside our own bodies.
I know I personally spend far too much time feeling what feels bad inside my body. I feel the faint weird pain across my left clavical. I feel my knee. I feel my right scapula grate as it moves. And yes, I focus in on these things. I even panic a little about these things. I stew in them like in a nasty luke warm bath where all these feelings sit around and cackle and breed, making me feel shitty.
Instead try this: take a deep breath in. Does it feel good? If something feels bad, leave that for a minute and come back. What feels good? I personally love feeling my lower ribs expand as I imagine the intercostal muscles between each rib spreading. On the exhale, I love the release, the sweetness of the exhale and the relaxation trickling through my entire body.
That sounds pretty enjoyable, right? But what I haven’t told you is that I’m trying my very best to ignore the tightness I feel in my mid-back as I inhale and the twinge I get behind my right shoulder as I exhale. Bad. Those things aren’t hurting me. They are distractions from what is good.
Before I see your hands raise, “but, but, but…” I do know that we need to listen to our bodies. We have to protect ourselves. We use our senses as our own personal turtle shells to keep ourselves safe. Important. But, what I’d like to propose is to listen a little less intensely to the crappy stuff happening, and focus on what’s going well. What feels good in your warrior two (or any pose for that matter)? Your hip? Your quad? Your strength? Feel that.
What happens if we took a little more time to feel good in our yoga practice? That’s what we are there for, isn’t it? What if, instead of constantly asking ourselves, “is this pose bothering my back/ankle/neck?” (sub your ailment of choice). Why not focus on the pleasure? Of course, the concept of feeling good in yoga isn’t revolutionary. But how many of us actually make a conscious effort to focus on it and not get completely distracted?
What I’m working on right now is to spend time revelling in the sweetness. I say forget the rest, at least for now. Pleasure is right here, right this second. Don’t get distracted. Just feel. And feel good.
Original photo taken by Sarah Lomax in Bali 2011.