In my last blog entry, I shared (confessed) that I was in a bit of a “yoga funk” – and that I had been in that mental space for a while. Not a terribly long while, mind you; but still, a while. Maybe a few weeks.
I didn’t want to “admit” that yoga was turning from something fun and energizing into something obligatory. I didn’t want to face losing the feelings of joy and levity I used to have around yoga, and experience the heaviness and dullness that resided in me instead. So I denied, and ignored, and buckled down and got tight and serious, and unconsciously pushed away all that I didn’t want to see – until finally critical mass was reached, and the container burst, and I was forced to address what had been really going on with me these past few weeks.
I hit my yoga bottom.
Interestingly, once I saw the truth of what was going on, and finally became willing to admit what I was really feeling and experiencing, everything changed. Shifted. Became brighter. More hopeful. Hope-filled.
Today’s class is the story of how I went from yoga despondency to yoga delight.
One of the things that has been weighing me down this past month is the frequency with which I’ve been attending yoga tech sessions. With the current studio schedule, the only time I could attend these classes was Thursday evenings – from 7:30-9 pm. Usually I’m in bed by 9 pm, and fast asleep by 9:15 pm; so when I went to these later-in-the-evening sessions, not only was I tired during the class (and sometimes also not in a super-great mood, nor possessing a super-great attitude), but I was tired for much of the following Friday – which set my weekend off to a not-great start. The frequency that I took these classes (established by my own choosing) + the time of the classes (arranged beyond my control) + the physical [and resulting emotional] impact the late classes had on my body and mind = the perfect storm for yoga fatigue and melancholy.
Well. In today’s class we were informed that an additional tech session slot would be added to the weekly schedule: Thursday mornings, at the non-downtown studio. That new day, time, and location are all *perfect* for me personally; when I heard this piece of new news, I literally felt a sense of ease enter me. Only then did I fully realize how much I had been resisting (and perhaps even resenting) the Thursday evening tech sessions. Ahhhh….. relief.
After spending a few more minutes on “business” items, today’s teacher transitioned us into the asana (pose) section of the class. We did four different poses today – all focused on opening the heart. The irony of this was not lost on me. Again, after spending this past month unconsciously contracting, tightening, and drawing inward, what I needed was a “wake up” call to force me to open and release. And nothing does this better than heart-opening poses.
But I didn’t enter this space willingly. I had spent much of the morning before class physically feeling like I was getting sick, so when I initially came to today’s session I wondered if I shouldn’t just sit out the physical practice piece of the class. But I do adore yoga (even in a funky junky state); once one of my peers started teaching the first asana, I was sucked in. And thank goodness I was – my willingness to engage and take the right action (even if I didn’t “feel” like it) is what allowed me to 1) see where I was really at, and 2) move to a better place.
In the first pose we did (camel pose), I started to feel my chest open up – literally, but also figuratively. I felt my resistance to life in general (the overall sense of “unless-it’s-MY-idea-I-don’t-want-to” and “ugh-God-alright-if-I-HAVE-to-I-will!”) begin to break apart, and dissipate. By the end of practicing this pose (about 10 minutes), I wasn’t free of all resistance; but I did feel big gaps in the armor.
In the second pose (bow pose), I felt my throat literally open up. It had felt tight and scratchy all morning (per my earlier comment about not feeling well), but with some other things that had been going on this past month both personally and professionally, I also felt a bit “voiceless” in my life as a whole. Again, doing this pose helped me realize where I was at (physically, mentally, emotionally) – and it also helped me move past that limited space, into a more open place.
These first two poses set the stage for the “big daddy” pose: full wheel. In wheel pose, there is no escape: People are going to feel whatever is there to be felt, and come face-to-face with whatever crap might be before them, or in them. The awareness that camel and bow brought me were helpful in getting me ready for wheel; as I pushed down, then into, then through my hands and feet and popped up into a human bridge, I physically felt all of the mental and emotional crap (previously discussed) right at my sternum; and as I held the pose, and breathed into it, my mind said, “Oh f**k it”, and I just let go. Goodbye crap. Thank God.
[For people who have never had these experiences before, I realize that much of this might sound slightly loony (or perhaps all-out “woo woo”, or even full-on crazy). All I can offer is my own real, personal experience; and the encouragement to not knock it before you try it.]
So. That’s a lot for this class session; but I’m only half-way done.
The second part of the class focused on “finding our teaching voice” – finding our own authentic words, style, and attitude to bring to each yoga class we lead. You may remember a few months ago that we had “part one” of this experience – and it didn’t go well for me. So I wasn’t really looking forward to this part of the class. (Again, more resistance – and “pre-meditated” resistance at that. *sigh* Some days I exhaust myself.) However, for today’s session we had a different teacher, who took a completely different approach to this topic, and brought a completely different energy… and this turned out to be a truly helpful, encouraging, supportive, positive experience for me. Today’s teacher stressed that the two hours we engaged with this topic were intended to be a time of exploration, and of play; and because we were all “just trying stuff out, and trying things on”, there weren’t any “right” answers – so there couldn’t be any “failure”. The teacher made the class about us instead of about her, and about wanting us to experience success (instead of using the session as a forum to ‘show off’). It was great to be able to have a bit of time to plan and prepare (for those of us that feel comforted and reassured by such measures), and to then spend a lot of time just trying. Exploring. Playing.
I led three very kind, understanding, and patient peers through a series of sun salutations; and this was the first time I ever “taught” any part of a yoga sequence to anyone. Ever. And it went about as well as I could have hoped a first experience would go. It was choppy and rough, and I felt insecure (so I’m certain that my “students” didn’t have a whole lot of confidence in me); but it was also really good to just do it. By the end of the two hours, I did feel more comfortable talking through a brief yoga sequence; so as with anything in life, the more I do it, the better I will become and the better I will feel. It’s just going to take some effort, and some patience, and some time.
Effort, patience, time. These are all very good things for me to keep top of mind, not only as I continue to transition out of my yoga funk, but as I continue to apply the yoga awarenesses to my broader life. Because really, it’s all related, no?