I am learning to stand up well, literally, in all areas of my life.
Child rearing is a special kind of blessing; the miracle of pregnancy and joy of childcare are paired with exhaustion and intensely physical, daily demands around a twenty-four hour cycle for years.
I work hard on how I am how I am lifting, holding, carrying and setting down the baby and, sometimes, the big boy. There is a poignant awareness of shoes that don’t support, strollers that draw me into unnatural postures, nursing positions that are causing my shoulders to collapse, etc. This list would encompass everything.
At this point, it feels like an(other) full time job to shine light on how I relate physically to my boys in order to move my body with whatever scant wisdom and mindful attention I have thus far cultivated. More than once, I have proved how easily I can throw out my back, tweak my sciatic nerve, exhaust my wrists and on and on when tending to a willful, unreasonable being all day and some of the night. So, there is motivation to move well after having moved unintelligently and reaped the painful rewards.
Over my life and still now, my connection to my physical body has waxed and waned. As a kid I had a sense that I “should” be doing sit-ups and push ups and tried to force myself into such practices, for self-betterment I suppose. Now, as a semi mature adult, I recognize that joyful and intelligent movement is what matters. I turn towards the wisdom of others to enhance my understanding of integrated movement and practice maintaining a gentle, lively awareness of how I hold myself and move in the world. Children, nature, music and love lead me to play and play leads me to roll, dive, run and jump. For myself, there is grace in breathing with my motions, spending any time playing outdoors, feeling the resistance of water along my limbs and allowing song to shape my rhythm, encourage my foot pattern and remind to radiate in 360 directions or more.
It’s now been a decade and a half since I first stepped into yoga practice and, at last, I have a semi regular home practice. Since last June, I have been checking in regularly with a physical therapist specializing in women’s health and garnering much insight into the tendencies of my bones, muscles and the interplay between them. These traditions and systems give me the structure to play with weaving together my breath and movement, to notice if my skeletal alignment is one that supports, trains my muscles to do this vast holding work, and then always how to cultivate a softening of the skin and sense when all the infrastructural work is alive and pulsing.
Right now, summer solstice, anniversary of baby’s birth, I lean into realigning my native energy patterns. When asked to choose colors, I have been sensitive to blues and greens like a girl, again. I have felt my masculine energy rising on the heels of seven years of embracing my feminine body and spirit. I am pulling my horizontal flesh (foot arches, pelvic floor, corners of the mouth) up and drawing in along my bones, linear expressions to balance the rounded spaces of my hips, shoulders, pelvis, breasts and heart.
Mostly though, I am pulling my shoulders up, back and down, slightly tucking my chin and making sure that my core is engaged, hips are over my ankles and knees are slightly bent as I make my way through these days. I am most grateful for the teachers that have guided me along the way and to deepening my ability to feel/listen within.
I have a long way to go in the more subtle practices of feeding myself mindfully, cultivating spiritual practice that can hold the family. That is where I feel like a lot of my work lies in this next seven-year cycle, but for now it is enough to stand well, intentionally, until it becomes my own natural posture and gait.
I wonder…what are your chronic tendencies that need to be undone? Or, what have you implemented to better thrive in your own precious body? Do you have a sense of your own balance of masculine and feminine energies? What does it look like and how do you play with it?
Thanks for reading along with me and many blessings to you on this, the longest day of our year. Cheers!