Over and over again, I pulled this image of myself in a forward fold from an announcement of a new class I'm offering to experienced yogis and yoga teachers.
It shows the dominant strength on my left side, which contributes to a pretty severe imbalance in my life that reaches many layers into who I am. As a 7th grader, I was sent to the school nurse for a routine spinal check and it turns out I was developing a pretty insidious twist in my lumbar spine, a growth pattern that's a little unusual for scoliosis and one that wouldn't require surgery or any other intervention, according to my pediatrician.
What happened because of a life of dance, running, sports and vigorous yoga practice is that the asymmetry in my shoulders, back and hips intensified injuries and affected healing, so that I've experienced many "events" as injury as well as pain created by repetitive motion.
The truth is that I never want to look at my lopsidedness. It shows me where I am weak. This photo of me doing a pretty deep fold highlights the parts of me that I cringe over when passing a mirror. My left hip is awkward and high. My ribs poke out. My thighs, which you can't see here, are different sizes and I've hurt hamstrings and deeper glute muscles and connective tissue in ways that I may never fully heal from. My practice, which I thought was supposed to keep me strong and pliable, has betrayed me.
The bigger truth is that all of these things are what sent me to the practice of yoga that I now embrace and teach today. This is where I finally came to acceptance and use of this photo. What I teach (whatever it's called!) draws from both ancient and modern understanding of my body's own ability to heal, the subtle body, and an approach that honors what is now understand as neuroplasticity, or our ability to rewire our own neurology and patterns.
Vinyasa means creating a sequence that places the meaning of the movements, the thoughts behind the movements, into our body. Vini = sequence. Nyasa = placing in the body (oversimplification, for certain!). Every time I move in a way that competes, belittles, judges or stresses me in a yoga sequence, I press these ideas into my Self.
When I practice in a way that does not honor my own beautiful past of experiences or my own limitations, I press the emotional and physical fruits of this into my body.
I love Vinyasa. I've worked to create a flow specially designed for my own daily inquiry and for my own best strengthening, my own best stretching, all around my very own lopsidedness and uniqueness.
I invite you to do the same.