The still beneath

My journey into yoga isn’t a unique one.

I suffered from chronic back pain for many years and had pretty much exhausted all avenues of investigation in the NHS yet nothing changed. Painkillers didn’t touch it. Physio said I had a “great body and movement” (blushing) and my final examination was in the nuclear department having radioactive material injected to me for scanning purposes. This was the most enjoyable as they supply you with free food and snacks all day then you have to self isolate till you pee the radioactive material back out again. It is strange walking past the Geiger counter at reception and seeing the reading go up.

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At this point in my life Yoga seemed to be everywhere. I’ve never been a particularly sociable person so procrastination on social media was my hobby of choice. Tumblr opened my eyes to a whole new world due to the lack of censoring and I was drawn to these communities of free self expression, thoughtful discussion and abundant creativity. It was on these pages of people opening their hearts and describing their journeys in real time that I found similarities in my story and yoga was often being cited as the way forward.

Skip forward a few years I find myself in a chakra flow class, paired with someone I didn’t really know at the time and my mind blows wide open with possibilities. I felt exactly what the teacher was explaining. I felt EVERYTHING. Then it’s gone. I have about three stand out moments in yoga (a post in itself) and this is one.

But this isn’t the point of this post. What I want to convey is why I brand myself as The Still Beneath.

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Life with or with out yoga is wild. I’m grateful for the chance to practice yoga because I feel it makes my life significantly easier but I guess that because I enjoy it and the hard work that is involved doesn’t feel like hard work. My back began to improve once I began to feel my body again. Chronic suffering robs you of this sensation. You normalize this exhausting condition by effectively shutting down so you can get from A to B. You get by and resign yourself to “that’s just the way things are. If the NHS can’t fix me then what hope have I got?”. This is where yoga comes in.

You always have another option with yoga.

Our bodies are remarkable feats of engineering with the ability to self heal. But like all machines we need to take care of it, notice when it doesn’t seem to work as it should and go out of our way to get it fixed.

As I said before, I began to notice my body during that Chakra class. Jump forward again to my teacher training and I began to hear my body LOUD and CLEAR. When I let go of the distractions around me and went deep inside I could hear and feel where the issues were and make the relatively easy adjustments to let go of old patterns and come back to myself. My back still hurts but it isn’t crippling, exhausting, requiring others to make it better somehow. When I stop and notice, I can move beyond the discomfort or find the still beneath.

At our deepest center we are still and perfect. Like an ocean that rages in the storm, below the surface is unaffected by the turmoil. My yoga practice is about finding that stillness and using its steady base to bring steadiness and freedom to the surface. This is what I try to teach in my classes.

Pain exists for a number of reasons and the solution isn’t always the most obvious one but if you can stop for a moment, connect to your breath and body you begin to find the space that leads you to change. We evolve in the positive manner that yoga teaches and we get from A to B just as we did before but this time the hard work doesn’t feel so hard. Our destination becomes pure joy which exists deep within us, deep in the still beneath.

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