Next time you're coming out of savasana, allow yourself to really remain in that dreamlike state as you let the wisdom of the body guide your first movements back into the waking world. The body knows what it needs. It will tell you what to do. As you slowly come to a seated position like this, your body leading the way, not your mind, feel how you're still soft and open, yet upright. "And that is what it feels like to be awake."
And that is how Lisa poetically guided us out of savasana. I usually HATE coming out of savasana cuz it's so seductively wonderful, like being in bed in the morning. But Lisa made me realize, maybe I'm just not enjoying the wonderful benefits of being "awake" properly. Whoa!
I'm reporting from the midst of This is Spinal Tap, a workshop with Lisa West (Lisa has a great new blog here) on the anatomy of the spine and how we can use yoga and posture to address and prevent common injuries and inhabit our bodies more comfortably. Lisa is a bodyworker and an encyclopedia of human anatomy. Really. Since childhood she has memorized things like the Childhood Encyclopedia of Diseases for fun. I could spend days just asking her questions like "now, WHERE does the thoraco-lumbar fascia insert?" Luckily, this weekend I get about 10 hours doing just that.
This workshop feels absolutely crucial for a nervous beginning yoga teacher like me. I'm getting more of a sense of being prepared for all the injuries that might walk in the door. Whiplash, chronic headaches, slipped disc, sciatica, scoliosis, carpal tunnel, arthritis: a formidable list, but I am learning the basics of what causes these issues, how to respond, and perhaps most importantly, what NOT to do. I am also learning that yoga alone can't always do everything; body work is a good idea in many cases.
Lisa genuinely lights up when she talks about fascia and connective tissue. She is an enthusiastic expedition leader into the jungle of the body. I feel like I am coming away from the weekend with a trail map. I have had many 'whoa' moments of being blown away by the complexity of our anatomy. The workshop is a combination of lecture, discussion, and yoga practice. I feel the immediate impact of new knowledge when we get on the mats again after lecture. When I bring my awareness to my pelvis or spine, I now have a whole new visual understanding of the areas. My body is no longer just an unlit, murky thing with vague outlines from memories of high school biology. The stars and moon are coming out and shedding some light on the jungle pathways. The feeling is just plain awesome.
Above: Google Image search result for "spirit spine." Apparently it's a band from Indiana. Oh, google.
I am reminded anew what a sublime vehicle this body is. I am allowing myself to rest comfortably in my new learning, the relatively simple facts of muscle names and vertebral diagrams. Yet I can't help but be aware, as well, that each solid-looking muscle, each vertebra, points to a seemingly infinite amount of complexity and interconnectedness that I cannot possibly understand. Lisa is awesome because she is open to the realization that all her learning may not be entirely true. "We are not linear," she said. Even if we were able to penetrate every cell of the body with increasingly powerful microscopes and tools, it seems we would still not be able to reveal exactly how it works so perfectly as a whole. Where does the spirit come in? Does that live in the cells, too? Is that it, there, mapped on that Chinese meridian chart? Or in those seven chakras?