Cooling Down

It is a rather all too common utterance that trips out of my lips when around strangers and friends alike, “Yoga has changed my life”. They look on in disbelief, wrinkling their eyebrows and squinching (a combination of squeezing and pinching) their noses up at me, “what do you mean?”, they ask. And so the story unfolds…. “well, you see, I am in my Forties now. Yup, for all these years I have been ridden hard (in the purest of ways, of course) and put away wet.”

What a saying! I reflect back to my younger days on the ranch in the Cariboo, when we would take to the trails and the meadows for hours at a time on our trusty steeds. How they wanted to run for us. I never understood this; why would a beautiful animal like this want so badly to gallop the entire day away when sometimes, it is simply nicer to walk or trot. I had to work at holding back my strawberry rhone, for she really only wanted to perform – yes, to run hard and fast and work up the biggest of sweaty lathers. Every kid in my posse knew that if you were to spare the wrath of the wranglers upon return to the stable, one never brought a horse back to the barn covered in sweat. Nope, you walked the horse in, preferably for the last 30 minutes or so, so that it could cool down, rejuvenate, and refresh. It was a time to let the sweat dissipate bringing both horse and rider in to the barn on a steady easy keel.

For all the many, many warm-ups, and intense games and scrimmages which I have played in my life, I have little to show for the cool down. Consequently, I find the greatest proponent of this constant aging process to be muscular CONTRACTION. Whether it is in my back, hamstrings or quadriceps, contraction is a continual reminder how and when Yoga has changed my life.

When I began my journey about 2 and a half years ago, I could barely touch my toes, and every single pose seemed to cry uncle before I would even begin to breakdown a single fiber that had become bound so tightly around each and every joint and bone. I persevered. I warmed up, I released the sinewy fibers through flexibility, balance, strength, and stamina, then I cooled down with a delicious Savasana or corpse pose. I lay dead. As I lay there my mind became the new focus.

My thoughts were like a locomotive, one by one they chattered their way in to my longing to be idol brain, and one by one, I diverted them, laying down another track and flowing them out of my consciousness. I was walking my horse to the barn, quietly, with unacknowledged reflection. This was a definite change of pace.

And so I continued, every week, three to five Yoga practices per each. I geared up, I practiced, I rested. Tried and tested, gradually, my mind followed suit. Each pose became a moment, a second, in which I was so intensely involved, that I seemingly had no choice but to re-route the past and the future box cars, and simply be here, right now. I found in the hours and days, following these practices, my creativity and work/play performance would steadily increase, and of course, along with it, my body would feel pretty good.

Ah, the body. The body that had become used to the routine chiropractor, massage, and Tylenol staples, now no longer required any of them. The body was following suit with the mind. Slowly and steady, each beautiful, ancient pose was transforming me with ease and fluidity, allowing me to find peace within me as I took part in a rather un-peaceful world at times. The walk into the barn is actually enjoyable amid the sunshine, flowers and dancing meadows. Nameste.

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2 Responses to Cooling Down

  1. Carolyn says:

    Kerry –
    I love to love and love to hate yoga. I am still at the crying at each move, dizzy in the head when my dog has to go down, sick to my stomach with my legs up the wall stage. And I cannot – CANNOT – relax during Shivasana. I think of my to-do list, my kids, my aching body, my chores waiting for me…I even think of the reasons that I am still thinking rather than trusting my body to relax and, therefore, relax my mind.
    The half pigeon is my nemesis right now. My PT prescribed it and I leave it to the bitter end each and every time. I try it at hockey and blame the bulky equipment for not letting my chest meet the ice. All the while, my piriformis muscle screams at me from the depths of my buttock.
    Good for you for sticking with it. Once you get past the body, or so I’ve heard, it’s all about the mind. Like so many other things, really.

    The light in me sees the light in you, too, my friend.

  2. How you took me back to riding on the local common in England, on a stable horse – not my own unfortunately, every little girl’s dream then…. and the analagy of cooling down, slowing down and rejuvenating – perfect. Like fluffy clouds in a blue sky let all the thoughts float by – acknowledge them and let them pass on. Acceptance of a busy mind is half the battle. Loved it….

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