The studio was not quite as hot for the last yoga class I attended - a little over a hundred degrees rather than the standard one hundred five. I didn't start sweating in earnest until the third pose, when usually I'm nearly blinded by the cascading drops two stretches into the first pose.
As as become my norm, some poses were easier than previously, some were harder. It seems that I have no way to predict which will be which, or to control the difficulty in any way. My body, which I've either treated badly or ignored for much of my life, is taking full advantage of this new awakening. It cooperates at its own speed and own unknown-to-me reasoning.
On this day my body allowed me to almost complete the dreaded camel pose. I got onto my knees, placed my hands on my hips, took a deep breath through my nose, and looked up, expecting the usual wave of dizziness and nausea. Nothing. So I tipped my head back a bit, ready to lurch forward at the first hint of stomach spins. Still nothing. So I tipped further, and got so into being there that I almost missed the direction to come out of the pose.
And as I was lying in savasana after the pose, I found myself wondering if the reduced heat was what made it easier for me to open up my chest and bend backwards. Not my unfinished emotional work. Just a physical factor that impacted what my body was willing to do.
From there I began to consider the possibility that I might need to rethink my attribution of cause and effect to other events in my life.
As an abused child, I needed to absorb responsibility for what happened to me to feel any power at all over my life. If my parents were ashamed of me, it meant there was something wrong with me.
As an out-of-control adolescent, my anger and don't-need-anyone attitude kept me from feeling the pain of loneliness and otherness. If a boyfriend broke up with me, I didn't really love him in the first place.
As a born-again cult member, I turned everything over to God and worked hard to be a worthy servant. If prayers went unanswered, it was because I hadn't truly surrendered and my heart was not pure.
Once free of the cult, I returned to adolescent ways, but with a determination to prove once and for all that I was a good person. Marriage to a good man who loved me deeply. A career as an elementary school teacher. Efforts to be a good daughter, sister, friend. A cozy home in the country and pretty yard complete with Golden Retriever and multiple cats. Therapy, recovery, spiritual searching. If none of that seemed enough, it was because I wasn't working hard enough or I was still paying for all those years of wandering in the wilderness.
The pattern is clear. If life does not go the way I want, need, dream - it's because of a deficit in my being or behavior. I am not enough. I am not working hard enough.
What I'm learning from my body these days - my strong, resilient, patient body - is that it might be time to reframe my attributions of cause and effect. Sometimes a sore back is a sore back and nothing more. Sometimes I'm not going to understand why, and that's okay. Sometimes.
picture from Flickr