A lot of times, I feel exactly like Uma Thurman in the “Wiggle Your Big Toe” scene in Kill Bill. Sometimes when I am practicing, I am mentally telling my right leg to move forward into a lunge and it just…sits there. Stuck. Gristly. Stubborn. There are so many areas of my body that are a big mystery to me, and my entire right leg is the biggest mystery of all. I like that in Ashtanga, there is a system and it takes as much time as it takes for my body to open—no hurry, no judgement. Just acceptance of this is where I am today in practice, on the mat, breathing and listening to Slayer. Here we are!
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decode my right side. Sometimes I think if my right side could just get unstuck, I would have some kind of massive spiritual liberation experience. All the secrets to my past are locked in that leg, that hip, even my big toe…which is now turning in on itself and becoming more and more painful. The idea of having to have more surgery makes me want to freak out and smash things, especially surgery on my feet.
I worked with a personal trainer who was also an IFBB professional figure competitor and bodybuilder back in 2009. I was really stuck in the binge/exercise purge cycle, and the problems with my right side always flare up more when I train really hard. She told me that I either want to be healthy and fit or I don’t, and all of the spiritual hemming and hawing and hiding out in my 12 step programs were not going to fix the problem. She was like a ripped, beautiful female Yoda: there is no try, there is only do. I could not handle this mindset at the time, and the training was brutal. She suggested I read Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, which is NOT what I was expecting her to tell me! Louise Hay’s theory about problems with the right side?
Right Side of Body: Giving out, letting go, masculine energy, men, the father.
I am used to calling my right side “my bad side”. I’ve also spent time working with an excellent Thai Yoga Massage Therapist here in Las Vegas, which was very helpful. She suggested that my right side is not my bad side at all. I was like, “Say What???”. Surely you jest. I was so used to blaming all of my physical, postural problems on that side—it is the root of all evil! Jaime said that maybe my left side was weak and the right side has been picking up the slack all of the years. She said that both sides needed to be worked on, worked through and integrated. Demonizing my right side might just make it even more stuck. She suggested breathing into that side and sending it mental messages of love and acceptance.
Recovering from an eating disorder and going through the process of becoming a healthy body weight without resorting to my old tricks of self-abuse/dieting is strange and new. My weight loss is very, very slow right now. I lost a pound last month during the Ashtanga Experiment. Part of me was not happy with this progress, and part of me knows that I need to get acclimated to the size I am now before dropping more weight. I’m still not used to being 78 pounds lighter, never mind the next 50 pounds. I’m also getting used to a daily yoga practice and figuring out how my whole life and schedule works with that as a focal point. I want to squeeze in other physical activity aside from yoga, and it is not happening right now. Having a hard time with timing my meals, meetings, service, family stuff. There’s not enough room, unless I want to start not eating dinner or not sleeping!
Sending mental messages of love and acceptance to myself all day long is definitely a huge part of the process. Declaring war on my body and war on my remaining extra pounds does nothing for me at this point. The diet mentality for me is like a feudal lord trying to squeeze the last bit of tribute from his vassals, and the vassals have nothing left to give. They are in revolt and about to storm the castle.
A last thought about my right side from Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With The Heart of a Buddha: “When we abandon our body for our fear-driven stories about pain, we trap the pain in our body.”