Never let anyone else tell you what your yoga practice should be. It is by you, for you. For me, yoga used to be about discovering more strength, more flexibility, more positivity. It was about feeling more, being more, experiencing more.
Then, I got sick.
My yoga practice became about getting well, being better, banishing pain. It was about finding solutions, discovering answers and returning to the previous, better version of myself.
As the pain and sickness continued year after year my yoga became about 'hugging in', protection of self, staying still, sustaining energy and dropping out of the drama.
This yoga isn't very glamorous. It's not exciting to watch or photograph. It is small, imperceptible, personal and usually involves a very bad hair day. There may be movement....or not. Stillness may be about pain. Meditation may be about surviving. Asana may be about forgiving the body and its weakness.
During this time I realised that yoga isn't there to heal my body, necessarily. It is there to help me learn to carry Prana within my broken-ness. Even a broken vessel can carry a small amount of life-giving water within it and so it was with my practice. Each asana, meditation, breath work, however broken, would carry a tiny amount of Prana within it. And this became my practice.
For me, the pain continued on. For 40 hours a week for 8 years I lay in bed devastated, weeping with pain. For most of the rest of the week I entered a recovery mode, able to pretend to be capable and whole but limping underneath and fearful of the next bout. And then, of course, there were the good days! Unbelievable joy and gratitude would pour through me and out of me as if the past pains were a dream and my body and mind were returned to me in full.
My yoga has now become a way for me to 'Embrace the Broken'. Even the small amount of Prana that I carry from moment to moment is used to sing my song. Not literally, luckily for everyone around me, but as an artistic expression of my spirit. I realised what yoga had been doing for me all that time. I had been waiting to be healed from the pain, from the body that wouldn't work properly, from the mind that couldn't think and the healing had been happening all the time in my relationship with myself and with others. Those who had looked after me, been with me, asked after me. My heart was becoming vulnerable and my spirit, whilst sitting in my broken body, had had time to remember the past and the path to this very moment. My scattered self had been brought back into the fold and both heart and spirit had been inexplicably changed. Never to be the same as they were again.
Will my body ever recover and 'get well'? I don't know. But if my heart keeps opening and my spirit keeps expressing I'll probably get to the point where I won't care either way.
.......and so, the yoga continues to change form, sequence, content, feeling, motivation, results. Finding the best way to support me practice by practice.
Never let anyone else tell you what your yoga practice should be. It is by you, for you.