Relaxing through jaw clenching poses

Do you hate yoga? I did. I’m a competitive person and found myself gritting through yoga classes at my gym to complement my triathlon training. I found it ironic that my teacher was reminding me to relax my jaw, as it seemed clenching my teeth was the only way I was going to bare another second of holding warrior one. But several classes, studios, and teachers later, I found my perspective changing.

Shortly after I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I found myself disappointed in my body, greatly discouraged, and unknowingly attending a class that would forever change my yoga practice, as well as the way I face my life with MS. While holding a simple forward bend, the teacher asked us to notice how our body felt without judging. Woa. No judgment?! With a body that just completely let me down, I was queen of judging myself. If this practice was going to relieve me of my own judgment, it was going to be harder than expected, but well worth it. And then his next words “You may notice that your body is resisting more than it did in your last practice, or it’s allowing you to bend further than you once could. Use this information (here it comes again) not to judge, rather to observe where you are today and breath into that space.” And that was it- my great epiphany at the age of 25. I was not going to be able to control what MS did to me each day or how I might feel, but I still could do my best with what was going on—no judgment. As I hung over my legs, I took a deep breath and started my new yoga practice.

As I continue to grow with yoga, I keep meeting teachers who share words that resonate with me, shape the way I move and think on and off my mat, and guide my evolving practice. Sometimes it is just the right cue to tweak my warrior one into a place where I can relax my jaw, sometimes it’s a lesson I can take with me off my mat. In any case, I invite you to attend a class, find a teacher who can gift you some words, and help shape your practice to serve the healthiest you.

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