Understand prunes and you’ll understand you. Hmm. “What on Earth is Jessica on about?” you’re probably thinking. Good question! Whilst I can often go on tangents, the concept of understanding prunes is a really valid, helpful way of looking at ourselves and in turn, better understanding ourselves. To give some context, I shall share a personal experience.
Personal experience: Whilst training in Mysore, in a hot and humid shala of around 35 degrees with no air flow, I would find myself moving into all sorts of asanas which once upon a time would have likely left me crippled, or not far off. Dropping into back bends, headstands, forward bends, deep twists… I was moving in all directions!! Turns out, with proper sequencing preparing the body well, the body really can reach new heights. So you can imagine my frustration when I would return to class an hour later (after our breakfast break) barely able to sit cross legged as my knees were so stiff and my back had seized. I couldn't understand how my body could so quickly go from insanely flexible to that of a 100+ year old. I honestly wondered if I was accelerating into old age the more I practiced.
One day, I decided to chat with my teacher, Bharath about this. Tired of the vast contrasts I was experiencing every day, I thought it wise to discuss with my Guruji. “Bharath, why is it that I can be so flexible one moment and then stiff as a board the next?” He replied in his usual calm and centered tone which immediately demands stillness and complete presence within oneself. “Jessie, think of your body like a prune..” (You can imagine my face with that response) “When it is outside in the sun, getting nice and warm it is soft and supple. But when you place the prune back in the fridge, it becomes firm and rigid. This is what is happening with your body”.
I was assured that in time and with consistent practice my body would learn to remain supple even when ‘back in the fridge’ so to speak. I cannot emphasise enough the point ‘in time’. We often place so much pressure on our bodies, trying to force them into asanas which the body is not ready for, or we become angry with ourselves as our body isn’t as flexible as it was the day before... and on it goes. (You know what i mean when i say this). The point I’m trying to make is - you too are a prune! The body needs time to warm up, prepare itself for the depth you’re trying to achieve. And sometimes, you may not reach those depths because the body is ever changing - and that’s ok!! Tomorrow you may go deeper than you ever imagined… Possibilities are endless.
Remember, yoga is not about being attached to the end asana - as Patanjali writes in the Yoga Sutras (non-attachment) - but about the journey there.
Every day, take time to be truly present, to listen to your body and notice what it’s telling you. Sure, you may struggle with your backbend, but tomorrow it could be fine. The important lesson is to never give up, but to work through all the trials and tribulations. You can only learn more of yourself by doing so.