Type-Casting.

So…

I’m not the type of person who gets into random meet-and-greet chit-chat.

I’m not the type of person who reveals a lot about myself.

I’m not the type of person who’s into team sports.

Hmm, this could go on.

I’m finding that one of the brilliant rewards of Yoga is its teaching about limited definitions of self.  For instance, just a few months ago, I didn’t think I had the type of body that could “do” Pigeon Pose:

Pigeon Pose

Instead, I said I was “the type with tight hips.”  Which was somewhat true.  Relative to other body types, (and even other parts of my body) my hips were (and are) rather tight.  I could always sense a flowing availability in my muscles, except when it came to postures that asked more of my hips, such as Pigeon or Cow Face Pose.  

Cow-Face Pose.  (Such a strange name.)

But in Yoga, there are no “types.”  There are only different bodies.  And each of those bodies is different one day to the next!

If I hadn’t seen pictures of these poses (like the ones above), all I would have known was the teacher’s instruction, the movements, and the resulting feeling of my own body as it moved.  And that’s all I needed to know.  It’s all that matters. 

In Yoga, you’re encouraged to pay attention how your own body truly feels in any given posture.  When you do, you’ll find that the feeling changes over weeks and months of practice.  (For instance, as you may have guessed, I can now sit in Pigeon Pose, although I give myself plenty of time, and I make sure I’m plenty warm).

Changes.  Oh my, the cheesy pictures never end!

But the feeling of each pose will also change with each breath!  You don’t have to wait weeks or months to see change… You can see it in every passing moment.  It won’t be some earth-shattering change, and it probably won’t be noticeable to anyone else.  But everything changes, and it changes constantly.

So in Yoga, the attention given to breath, and the invitation to really be present in your own body for whatever is happening right now — Both teach us about change, and about our inability to pin ourselves down.  Why would we want to?

With each breath, there’s new air, there’s a new rise and fall of the belly, there’s the smallest bit of letting-go on an exhalation.  And the mind changes too, flitting all the time from one thought to the next.  

So you’re the type of person with a lot of tension in your neck and shoulders?  What about after a massage, or after a restorative Yoga class?

You’re not the type to touch your toes?  What about in six months?

You’re not the type to do a backbend?  What about a mild one, such as Cobra?

A gentle Cobra Pose

And beyond Yoga… You’re not the type to eat healthy foods?  What about when you eat something delicious and then you find out that it was healthy?

You’re not the type to enjoy exercise?  What about the way you feel when you’ve done something good for yourself?  (Maybe the “type” here is not you, but your idea of what “exercise” is or has to be.)

You’re not the type to open up with strangers?  What about that one moment when you felt confident and let loose, and it felt freeing?  Are there ways to recapture that?

The truth is, there simply are no types.  Any category in which we place ourselves (or allow ourselves to be placed by another) is too limited to hold us.  We change with every moment, every breath, every dying cell.  

And that’s good.  Yeah, I totally went there again with the emerging butterfly thing representing positive change.  I can't help myself sometimes..

And the beauty of this truth is available not only for us, but for the other people in our lives.  How much (or how little) do we expect of other people, based on the limited categories in which we’ve placed them?  Every moment is a decision.

The (very cool!) truth is, we all get to decide in any given moment what type of people we are.  Nothing is set in stone except the past.  And while the past can inform and advise the present, it doesn’t have to determine it.  

Whoever you were yesterday isn’t who you have to be today.

You’re not the type to do Yoga?  What about when you wake up and stretch your arms overhead?   🙂

You’re the type who constantly limits yourself with small ideas like “types?”   That’s only true until you stop.

 

Try this simple exercise for experiencing the your ever-changing awesomeness.  (You’ll just need a toy ball, soft & rubber-ish (not a softball), about 3-4″ in diameter.)

Lie flat on your back on the floor (this won’t work on a bed), legs outstretched and arms down at your sides.  (If you’d like, roll up a blanket or towel to place under your neck, or grab a thin folded blanket to use as a pillow.)

Notice if there’s any space between your back and the floor.  Space is neither bad nor good; just notice.  Most likely there will be at least enough space to slip your hand underneath your back.

Now bend your knees so that the soles of your feet rest on the floor, maybe 6-10 inches from your buttocks.

Place the toy ball directly under your sacrum — That point just above your buttocks where the spine meets the hips.

Get comfortable and balanced, and breathe steadily.   (This should be very easy.  If you’re rolling all around, or if it’s hurting your back, the ball probably doesn’t have enough give.  Just look for a softer one.)

Stay in this position for at least four minutes, and up to eight.  (If you tend to get antsy, it’s a good idea to try this while watching a TV show.)  Let your breath be steady and easy.  Imagine that your back is melting around the ball.  

When 4-8 minutes have passed, gently remove the ball from underneath your back.  Keeping your knees bent, allow the sacrum area to settle and relax more.

Finally, stretch your legs out and lie flat, as you did when you began.  

Notice now whether there’s any space between your back and the floor.  

Notice any differences?  Let me know!

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