Sometimes Yoga (and life) Need Props

Cindy tells us that the yoga poses in her book are not built on each other so we, the readers, can do them in any order. This is good because I like skipping around (read, I have favorite poses and poses I hate). She has daily routines organized very neatly, but I swap them around too, adding those I love (dog pose) and skipping the ones I hate (all the warrior poses). So, if Cindy reads this, the next time I go into her studio, you can bet I’ll have to do warrior poses. Let’s keep it between us.

As I’m flipping through her pages, I come across Corpse Pose, or Savasana. Savasana is a restorative pose. Well, my busted toe from the other night still hurts AND I have a cold AND I fear I might be getting the flu (and yet, here I am being so dedicated and all). So, restoration sounds exactly like what Cindy would order. So, that’s my pose for the day. My only pose for the day, mind you.

I seriously feel like a cheater here. The pose is what is sounds like. Lying face up on the floor, your arms at a 30 degree angle from your sides, palms resting upward and your eyes closed. In other words, you look like a dead woman.

My favorite thing about yoga is that it increases your awareness of your body. Even in this Dead Woman Pose, the first thing I notice is that my hip hurts. Did I know that already? Because it hurts in a major sort of way, the kind of way that does not allow me to actually put my hip (the left one) completely on the floor. Since that is what I’m supposed to be doing today, lying on the floor while allowing the space between my eyes to soften and my brain to release back into my skull (I am trying to visualize that!), my hip presents a problem. I cannot lie flat.

Good news; yoga props. Although I didn’t think I’d have to pull out the props for something like Corpse Pose, I flip the page and read the possible variations. Yoga is big on props. If you can’t actually do the pose then props are used to help “put you in the pose.” I own said props–of course, had to buy all the gadgets to do the yoga, right?–and so I place a bolster under my knees which lets me drop my hip to the floor and begin to relax.

Except now all I can think about is why I didn’t know that my hip hurt this badly. And then I remember. I did know. I’ve just been ignoring it. I’ve been sleeping on my right side (unusual for me) because it hurts to lie on my left. I watch TV with a big pillow tucked under my left hip and I read with my leg propped up on a chair. So I’ve been using props for awhile, it seems. The bolster is nothing new.

Making a mental note to call the doctor about my hip, I do as Cindy says. I adjust my buttocks so that my back is against the floor and then I relax letting the floor (yet another prop?) hold the weight of myself for the five minutes she suggests. I get sort of dreamy and slightly sleepy waiting on my timer to click (no loud noises please), although she is very specific that this is not a sleeping pose, but a restorative one. So, I try to focus on letting my brain release to the back of my head, and allowing my hands to be held up by the floor—you may be thinking, what cake! Not so, I tell you. It is actually quite hard to stay in the pose and not start snoring.

I decide, in my dreamy state, that I like the idea of props. So, today’s lesson: use props when necessary and sometimes just use props.

Busted Big Toes

So, today, I’m pooped. Big wedding weekend. And still more to go. But, ever faithful me is going to do her yoga (well, I’m faithful in spirit if not in the flesh). I’m flipping through Cindy’s book and pop! there is Padangusthasana or Big Toe Pose. Highly apporpriate since my big toe is currently, absolutely killing me. I stubbed it on, of all things, a pillow. One of those big study pillows that were popular in college dorms in the late 70’s. Of course, I still have mine (book nerd to the end), and it stays on the floor beside my bed when I’m asleep. Hence the stubbed toe in the middle of the night. Throbbing, I say, and I am going to be in heels for most of the day wearing my new, watermelon-red dress. Very classy sheath and with pockets. Which is too cute. The trend is these dressy-dresses with pockets; perfect if you forget the pedicure.

The first thing I notice is how detailed Cindy’s description is of what appears to be nothing more than me in a standing position, reaching down, grabbing my sore toe and the other healthy toe, and holding onto them while concaving my back, elbows out and stretching my quads and hamstrings.

Going into and out of the pose, I discover, is as important as the pose itself. Cindy gives as much print to preparing and coming out of the pose as she does the actual pose. Okay. That means I didn’t give myself enough time. Note to self–if I am going to do the poses properly, allow more time.

I rearrange my schedule a little (yes, five minute increments actually exist in my life, embarassingly enough) and do Big Toe Pose.

Guess what? My back loves this pose. I mean, I’m actually happy doing this. My legs are trembling as I push my upper thighs backward while pulling my pelvic region forward but my back is estatic. I’m not exaggerating. Lesson two. Lean over more. Stretching ourselves doens’t always have to hurt.

So off to the wedding I hoppingly go.