I’m laying face down on my mat in Sleeping Pigeon with tears streaming down my face. I’ve been there for 3 minutes or so as the tendons unfurl in the heated yoga studio and I cry.
I’ve learned I carry tension about work in my neck and shoulders but worries and stress about my family are in my hips. I joke sometimes that my family is literally the pain in my ass.
I’m in a yin yoga class thanks to my friend & neighbour Kim. We visit on the walk to and from class. The Sunday afternoon routine has become our touch point and my moment to reflect on my wellbeing.
The slow pace of the 90 minute class promotes patience and acceptance. Pigeon is a challenge for my round body, it takes a couple minutes to find the right configuration of meaty thigh, Buddha belly and boobs and then the real work starts.
At first I feel a burning in my hip, a band of lava wraps around my socket then radiates out over my whole body. It’s very uncomfortable but rarely drifts into pain.
My mind wanders as the hip fibers unfurl and I come back, breathing, and watching my body react to the pose. The burning passes, like so many annoyances in my life, and the pleasant settling against the mat begins.
I start to get bored, more waves of heat and pressure move around my hips, glutes, hip flexors and thighs. Each release triggers thoughts and feelings about how I’m challenged in my roles as parent and partner. It has been a very rough go and each band of fibers releasing brings those tensions top of mind.
The tears well up as I imagine enduring through these tough times. Resilience hardens to resolve. Not the flippant, tied to a time of year resolution, but the grim determination of leaning in to my problems.
The time comes to leave the posture and I hesitate. Here, on the mat, in this vulnerability, no one is asking more, there are no other needs to fill, just me, my body, and my heartache.
I’m that fat middle aged woman who cries in Sleeping Pigeon now and I don’t see that stopping any time soon.
My partner recently went on a Vipasana meditation retreat and has shared many great tips on living in the moment and not avoiding the negative sensations in my body. I’m someone who has a complicated relationship with my physicality and my mental health. I often work out to care for both.
My feminism has grown to be a place where I honour my body and don’t worry about my appearance. I work out in resistance to a world that tells me women my age should be invisible, wear loose clothes and not bother anyone.
In a small way, splayed out on a floor, in Lycra, taking up public space and crying are about being visible and existing for my own sake. I like to think other women are encouraged by my messy self and do things that work for them too.
My fitness activities aren’t a punishment or about achieving a specific appearance, they are for me and my well being alone.
I hope you are discovering and doing those activities that meet your needs this year too.