Aug 22 When the ‘Easy’ Yoga Pose Makes You Sweat…
Yoga. It has saved my life this year. I can clearly see that. All those hours on a yoga mat have given my inner voice its own dedicated airspace to podcast messages to one very important listener – me.
It has also made me very uncomfortable at times – to the point I wanted to hide under the covers and rip up my yogi membership card…
Being impossibly bad at something is hard. I don’t care if you are the most laid back chap on the block, it is human nature to feel frustrated or insecure or self-conscious when you are incapable of holding your body in a seemingly simple posture for more than five seconds. Yoga, you’re making me look like a nincompoop… maybe I shouldn’t go back.
But a funny thing happens when you do go back. You stop noticing the other people and your mind starts to really plug into yourself. Until you do, you can’t do yoga so eventually you give in and turn the camera onto your self. And suddenly it clicks and you are in it, in the moment – not the worry or self doubt. You are embracing every tremble, every inhale and arch, every exhale and release. Again and again, you thank your body for being glorious – which does not mean perfect or hitting your goal weight or having the best balance in the class. You are glorious even with worn-out capris and a tea stain on your tank top and hair so soaked with sweat it looks like you’ve been floating in the pool and not over your mat. You throw back the covers on your favorite yoga class days because you feel glorious and thankful for being given such an able body that can practice simple and hard poses, leaving the judgment in the car.
And as the mind changes, the body falls in line too. Strength finds new parts of the body to visit. The shoulders begin to welcome their important role in downward dog. The legs call out for chair pose so they can show the upper body how much might they hold. The mid-section reminds them both that they are bound together by its power.
And just when you feel like you’re about to be awarded ‘most improved yogi’ for August, you find a pose that makes you antsy to move on…
Please can we go back to bridge? Maybe let me work on my alignment in Warrior II a bit more? No? OK then, have it your way.
The pose right now for me is hero pose with toes tucked. The first time our instructor demonstrated it, I assumed it would be an easy sort of stretch-y pose. Mistake number one. It is like spreading your toes out to maximum width and then sitting back on your feet for a long spell of ‘when is this ever going to end?’ because I REALLY DON’T LIKE IT.
Please tell me what is next so I can think about that pose instead. I don’t want to feel this icky feeling for one more second. I want to move on.
In this same week of physical discomfort, I have begun to feel the creep of mental unrest.
I don’t know why I feel uneasy. Perhaps because the kids have gone back to school and there are a lot of hours in the day when you take email, meetings and traveling out of the equation. Possibly it’s because I have spent my entire life thinking about what’s next and I am intentionally not allowing my mind to go there. I will not mentally draft that chapter. I will not think about the next job or the next move or the next pose – I have to be in this one.
Unfortunately my C- in undergraduate psychology does not arm me with the proper insight and wisdom to diagnosis why in this particular week and at this particular point in the sabbatical I feel antsy. Why the wonder of what’s next is knocking at the door of today. Why when it’s suddenly a little quiet, the air feels a bit too thick. I don’t know why, I just know it’s uncomfortable…
And because it is uncomfortable, I know it is important. It is doing something in me. Maybe building or maybe breaking down. Maybe preparing me to receive the next thing. Maybe teaching me to find my breath. Maybe reminding me that I can resist the urge to move on to a familiar habit when something is unpleasant – to persevere when I know it is good for me. Maybe to simply humble me with the powerlessness of the unknown. To remind me that all my planning does not actually give me any control of what’s next.
I don’t know why I feel this way right now. I just know I feel it and it is uncomfortable and I want a reprieve.
But I will stay put because the irony is not lost on me that when I asked the Internet why that particular pose bothered me so much, it’s response was that it’s due to the immense ‘sole stretching’ it provides.
Ohhh, I get it God. I see what you did there – very clever. I hear you, I will be present in this feeling, I will stick with it.
This is my time of soul stretching.