An unexpected gift from yoga

X-ray of human hipOn Monday evening, I went to a vinyasa 2 class at Thrive Yoga to make up for missing my normal Sunday class. I was met with a teacher substitution: Mary Lou McNamara was replacing Lisa Johnson because of vacation travel. Both followed the Anusara style so there was an underlying continuity between the two. I was breezing through the class without really being tested to my edge when we moved into the seated practice and I was hit by an unexpected breakthrough: Mary Lou asked us to get into Lord of the Fishes pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana). Almost without thinking, I slipped into the pose, which requires me to fold one leg under as a kind of base and the other leg is placed over it, with the foot on the ground — it requires that both sit bones be on the ground. In the recent past, this kind of contortion was beyond my reach: one hip would be torqued up in the air and I would be completely out of balance. I’d have to extend the bottom leg out before me or put a lot of blankets under one hip. Well, this time, both my sit bones were firmly planted on the mat and my spin could sit squarely over my hips, allowing a smooth even twist when completing the pose. We quickly moved on to other poses, and I could not fully appreciate what had happened.

Let me say that I have not made Lord of the Fishes pose as one of my goals, like full or half Lotus pose. I only practiced it whenever it rarely came up in class, unlike say half pigeon pose that almost always gets thrown into the mix. I recognized Lord of the Fishes as another manifestation of my tight hips, and some day I would move beyond this corporal legacy of sitting in chairs and slumping over keyboards.

Ironically, since coming back from vacation, I have been grousing about how hard it has been to regain my stamina in jogging. My legs seemed dead weight and fatigued. Well, part of this muscular fatigue is probably because the connective tissues between my legs and hips are having to move in new and different ways, while tolerating a lot more range of motion in my hips. As I’ve said here before, I often feel as if I am teaching myself to run all over again.