I hardly ever look forward to going, but I’m always glad I went. My weekly yoga class awaits me every Tuesday with its store of frustration and disbelief. How is it that the easiest of positions are so childishly difficult to attain, let alone hold for any meaningful length of time, whilst also maintaining a smoothness of breath? Furthermore, for two days afterwards, those sessions have also been known to haunt me with an incredulous amount of muscle pain. Why does everything hurt so much for those 48 hours? (The pain, I must point out, is the satisfying discomfort of having worked muscles in a way which they usually don’t get, but clearly need, and are obviously built for.)
The simple answer to my questions is that my physical body has fallen out of alignment with how nature intended it to be. A lack of attention, exercise and nurturing means we fall easily and unknowingly into bad habits. In fact, we only notice how far we have fallen when we stand upright, feet together, and stretch our arms towards the sky – the simplest of standing poses, with its circular focus on all areas of the body, is enough to hammer home the point that I am not in the shape I could be.
But I’m getting there. My daily exercises (now up to 917 days), together with my recent return to regular yoga sessions, have enhanced my body’s strength and control, and bestowed upon me a welcome sense of balance. Now when I move, it feels as though many more muscles are firing than before; and that they are all working more harmoniously with my brain to create a firm foundation, a strong core, and a flexible framework which enable and protect me to a greater degree than I have known for years.
The parallels with the self-development process are clear. Very early in life we pick up certain habits which, in the long run, do not serve our highest purpose. They embed themselves quietly and comfortably into our lifestyle, only revealing their constraints when we begin reaching for the sky. Fortunately, the solution is the same as it is for the physical body: get yourself back into alignment, little by little, step by step, day by day (whilst all the time remembering to breathe). You may experience some frustration and disbelief because even the simplest of movements towards a more balanced life can seem impossibly out of reach. But that’s the thing: they are not out of reach. And neither is the sky.