The lights are dim; my hands are splayed wide in front of me on the floor. My toes are placed five feet or so behind my hands and my legs are taut as I push my ass high in the air. I arch my back, as if waiting to be mounted from behind. I “wrap” my shoulders and draw my weight towards my heels. This is downward dog – and it hurts.
Downward dog, one of the first poses a new yogi learns, is a good indicator of one’s asana practice. In the beginning, it hurts, you’re sore; you just want to get out of the pose. Experienced yogis, on the flip side, find rest and relaxation there – it’s a break between the more vigorous asanas.
I used to find rest in down dog, but I’ve lost my way in my practice. Yoga isn’t about “becoming fit” – I know that, but I’m a western yogi and fitness was a part of the reason I practiced. I was strong, powerful, flexible and energized. I had “yoga shoulders”, a strong back and firm groins.
I loved the strength yoga gave me physically (not to mention mentally and spiritually) – how could I ever let that slide? It took me years to build my yoga body – and now, I find myself starting all over.
I’m sore today. Last night’s level 1-2 was difficult for me. The same class a year ago would be any “easy” practice. How could I let this happen? I’m flabby and weak once again. I want my yoga body back – and there’s only one way to do it…a strong, committed, consistent practice. I hate myself for having to start all over again.