I have been REALLY blessed over the past several months to get to attend a Saturday morning yoga class led by my boss´s wife and my neighbor, Helga. This has been a great ritual as it gets me out of the house on Saturday morning for my exercise, but the calmness and grace of yoga is a nice change of pace from the profuse-sweating, erratic-breathing, Jillian-Michaels-is-yelling-at-me-again-and-I´m-in-PAIN type of thing that I get during the weekdays from my daily DVD workouts. Yoga is a welcome respite, ushering in the weekend, my chance to reflect, reconnect, and recharge.
This last class was wonderful, and coming out of savasana I couldn´t help but wonder what my yoga future would hold. I saw a vision of myself standing at the water. Sunrise. The picture of serenity. I hold my arms up, saluting the sun as it appears, swathing me with its beauty as my svelte body folds in half, feeling one with the world as I am swept over by complete inner peace.
This vision does not last very long.
The truth that I find hard to admit to myself is that… I am not really sure if I like yoga. I love the idea of yoga, for sure. The combination of mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. The focus on the holistic aspects of health and exercise, of getting in touch with your body as well as your spirit. The idea of working with your body and not against it. Finding peace within the poses. All of this is great.
The realities for me, are different.
Let me say that, I LOVE a good workout. If I am at a gym and choosing between two classes, a Hatha yoga and some sort of boot camp where a drill sergeant/fitness teacher from hell is standing over me, dripping sweat on me while screaming at me to do just ONE more pushup you weakling, I will choose the latter almost every time. I love the high that intense exercise gives me. Where I struggle is with the mental part that comes up during the calmer practice of yoga. I don´t like it.
Because I suck at it.
There´s honesty for ya. How often do we dislike something because we aren´t very good at it? For me, it has happened a lot. (But it definitely isn´t a rule: I LOVE to sing… in the shower, in the car, while walking on the beach, etc. and I can´t sing for crap. But I guess I´ve embraced it.)
Example: I am in yoga class, standing… okay, not the right word… in Standing Forward Bend. All around me, fellow yoginis are folded neatly in half, responding to the soothing voice of our instructor. Inhale. Don´t push yourself farther than is comfortable. Exhale. Make peace with your breathing. Inhale. Flow through the posture. Exhale. Calm. Cool. Collect.
Here is what is going on in my head. Inhale. Exhale. Okay, good start. OMG, my toenails are SOOO gross. How are they so dry? I should pick that off. Ew. Must give manicure when I get home. That is just nasty. Crap, I am forgetting to breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Man, I´m hungry. What am I going to make for breakfast when I get home. I think I have stuff to make pancakes… YES PANCAKES. OMG wait… french toast!!! Yeah. That sounds delicious. I wish I could see my phone to know what time it was. I can´t wait to eat that. Man, I´m tired. I don´t like being so close and personal with my own thighs, it is not positive for my body image. Wow. Okay. Totally off track now. This is ridiculous. Come on Courtney, you can be at peace for like one hour a week. Breathe. Turn off your mind, it´s talking you into the ground. Try to enjoy this. Calm. Peace. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. See, it´s easy. No problem. Man I´m sore… my neck hurts. Just gotta crack it like this… ah. Much better. Very satisfying. OMG, that was loud. Did I just crack my neck loudly in yoga class?? Is that rude or something?? Man, I need some pancakes.
And so it goes.
But something about how much yoga frustrates me makes me want to do it more, makes me want to master it… even when I often don´t enjoy it. Yoga awakens a higher awareness in me. Much of my life I spend in ignorance of the here and now, choosing instead to worry about the future, or dwell in the past. Yoga constantly reminds me that this is not how I am meant to live. That I need to come to terms with peace in the present, peace with myself and my surroundings. The understanding and acceptance of the fact that many things we spend time dwelling on are not important. And that to be truly healthy I not only need to exercise and eat right but to make peace in my own head.
For me, this is really freaking challenging.
Yet, it inspires me by making me aware of something in my life that is unbalanced. It motivates me to do what little things I can each day to work on this–perhaps I won´t be meditating in downward dog, but maybe I´ll take five minutes each day to just concentrate on the blessings in my life and be thankful. Five minutes to center myself, to focus on this moment, and perhaps to find peace.
You won´t find me busting out any crazy poses anytime soon, or perhaps even really practicing on my own. Yet, I wannt to try to channel some more Yogic principles in my life. Whether it comes from the ancient Sanskrit or me just taking a minute to look at myself in the mirror and tell myself to just get over it already, it´s okay with me. I´m excited to see what happens.