I laid on a wooden table, my shoulder blades jarring against the flat, hard wood while my left arm was bent back and under my waist, shoulder twisted unnaturally. My right arm laid on top of my belly, my little finger numb. It felt crooked and bent under the others even though it was flat against my skin, my mind hallucinating feelings that weren’t there. My right leg pointed out to the side, my hip and glute muscles sending white hot pain droplets to my brain.
To the outsider, I looked comfortable and relaxed, but inside I was in a fair amount of discomfort. Most long poses aren’t comfortable, no matter what it looks like, because our bodies aren’t designed to stay perfectly still for any length of time.
I class a long pose as anything over 20 minutes, and mostly you do a long pose of an hour or more, split into 20 minute blocks so you can have a little stretch in between. The stretch does very little to be honest, you’re still moving back into an uncomfortable position.
Pain is a strange thing in these circumstances. Normally, pain provokes an immediate reaction to move to stop it happening, but when I know I have to be still, it becomes a choice. It fascinates me how my brain responds to these sensations. Mostly, I try to distract myself so I don’t even notice the feeling, usually by daydreaming about something completely random, but sometimes that just doesn’t work. So sometimes I just sit and feel the pain, really focus on what’s happening.
It comes in waves, and just at the point that you think you can’t bear it any more, it almost stops, or at least dials down. And then repeats. And keeps doing this until you can eventually move. The waves can feel like colours; for me I think of the feelings in reds, pinks and white for some reason. It starts pink, then as the intensity builds it turns to red, almost angry, and then to white where it feels like hot exploding flashes of light. Then dips down to pink again to repeat the cycle.
Sometimes I ever-so-slightly twitch the affected muscles; to interrupt or change the pattern while simultaneously trying not to think about how much time might be left.
I always surprise myself that I can sit through it, but it’s actually quite a meditative and calm process, and is often over much quicker than you’d think. I’m much more used to it now than when I first started, and am much more comfortable with sitting with discomfort. It’s definitely no bad thing.
Note – I can move at any time, the artists would understand, but I prefer not to if I can help it as it can affect their pictures.