"Yoga's weird and you're weird. That's why you like it." Baron Baptiste
In every yoga class I go to, the teacher knows not to adjust me into an intense back-opening pose. They don't mess with me in cobra, locust, wild thing or flip dog. It's pretty obvious from watching me that I coddle my lower back. I don't do upward dog. I don't do wheel. Also, teachers routinely ask their students before class whether they have injuries. I always mention my history of disc herniations.
The instructors assisting the Baron Baptiste full-day immersion workshop didn't know that, though, so when I flipped my dog during the last practice of the day, the teacher supported my lower back and tapped my thighs and basically waited for me to drop into wheel.
The last time I did a full wheel was in the weeks and months following Esme's birth. At the time, I was eager to dive back into my yoga practice and explore poses I had to take a break from toward the end of my pregnancy. I missed the vitality and power of a vigorous practice and I wanted to do it all. Now. Immediately.
The teacher cued us into wheel and I was gung ho, totally ignorant to the fact that my body was still surging with pregnancy hormones that relaxed my ligaments and made my joints loosey goosey. I pushed past previous edges without understanding why but happy to be back in my body. And so I practiced as much as I could. Until a few months later, I couldn't practice at all because of the extreme pain in my upper arms and shoulders. I went from full wheels to the inability to lift my arms to shoulder height. It was the first of many injury- or pregnancy-related hiatuses I took from a regular yoga practice. And it was the last time I did wheels.
Upside down, in a room full of 400 yogis, I found an opening in my lower back I haven't felt in I don't remember when. I do not feel compelled to do wheels. I don't feel like my yoga practice is lacking because I don't practice them. I don't feel pushed by any sense of ego or competition on my mat. My practice is mine. So, I would not have dropped into the pose if it wasn't for that most glorious feeling of openness that followed a wave of pop pop pop pops.
It happened like this: we flipped our dogs and the teacher walked past and placed her hands under my back. Time kind of stopped because I could sense that she was coaxing me toward more and I wondered how my body would respond and then, the pops, and I switched my standing hand and dropped my other and there I was… in wheel.
I thought about it later. Perhaps, I was supported by the energy in the room and the force of a thousand Oms.