- So far I have observed or participated in three mentor-related classes;
and I have felt wildly positive (almost giddy with delight – truly) before each one. However, today I woke up with resistance – I kind of just didn’t want to go to the session. (So I’m glad that I had this teacher training program committing me to attendance; I simply had to go today, no choice about it. Otherwise, I think I would have stayed home. And when I’m in a mood like I was this morning, staying home is really the last thing that I need to do.)
- Once I got to class, I still felt… weird. I didn’t want to lengthen, I didn’t want to lay down, I just wanted to sit on my mat curled up into a tight little ball. (Literally.) Savasana was one of the most difficult poses for me today, in part because I felt like my body didn’t really want to relax, and in part because my mind just wouldn’t give me a freakin’ break. My meditation was ridiculous; I couldn’t follow my breath through more than a single inhale-exhale (if that). Yikes. And sigh. So, clearly, yoga was precisely what I needed today.
- While I was initially resistant to even go to the session, and while I continued to struggle against savasana, I did fully surrender to the class. I followed the teacher’s direction (instead of following my own desires/agenda), and moved only when the instructor told us to; aligning my body and breath with her verbal cues as best I could. At one point in the class, the teacher cued us through a standard set of poses (i.e., plank, chattarunga, updog, down dog); but I didn’t hear the last cue, so I stayed in updog. The teacher then started counting to five (which is really strange to do in updog), so I started to wonder, “Hmm, this is odd…”, but I stayed in my updog – until the teacher tapped my toe with her toe and quietly said, “Stef, down dog.” I then opened my eyes, and oops – the entire rest of the class was in down dog. (Which is a much more “normal” place to stay for five breaths.) So while I felt slightly silly for about two seconds, this one experience was quite powerful for me today. I got to see a few really good things about myself; namely: 1) I’m “teachable” (i.e., I really DO want to learn when I go to class, instead of just say I do when really I want to move forward with my own agenda and do my own thing), and 2) I’m focused on my own practice (and not obsessing about what other people are doing, not comparing myself to them
[and therefore not feeling better or worse about myself based on the abilities of others]). These are two things I honestly couldn’t claim even a year ago; so to see the emotional progress in my yoga practice (and therefore, in my entire life) is truly special.
- I got to see a little bit of physical progress in my practice today, too. The teacher had us move from wide-legged forward fold to headstand – and I wasn’t able to do that even a month ago. I could get into the forward fold, and I could get my head on the ground while in the forward fold, but I didn’t have the strength to then move into a slow, controlled headstand. (I could kick up into a herkey-jerkey headstand, but using momentum [or gravity, or force] to get into a pose is the antithesis of yoga. If I can’t enter [and exit] a pose in a controlled fashion, that means my body [or mind] just isn’t quite ready for that pose yet.) Today, though, I DID lift my legs, slow-and-controlled, from the floor, to waist-height, then up into the air into full headstand. Yay! Pretty cool. :)
- Finally, I had a moment in class where I semi-laughed at both myself and the teacher: Despite having studied yoga in detail for 10 months now, there are some poses that I still don’t know fully and immediately. Usually I can get the general sense of what I should be working towards in the pose (e.g., opening the heart, lengthening the spine, squaring the hips, etc.), but precisely where every part of my body should be is sometimes (often) not 100% clear to me. Towards the end of today’s class the teacher had us go into a seated one-legged forward fold – and I wasn’t quite sure where to put my hands. I can fold my torso over my leg so that my nose is touching past my knee; as a result, my hands can reach beyond my foot – and I never know quite where to put them or what to do with them. So usually I just let my arms go kind of limp, and gently cup the arch of my foot with my hands. Or sometimes I’ll interlace my fingers and rest them on the ground beyond my foot, or sometimes I’m careless with my hands and just let them go kind of anywhere…but whatever; I thought the intention of the pose was to lengthen in the spine and the leg, and open the hip. So who cares what my hands are doing, really? However. Today as I was folded forward, arms loose and dangly on either side of my leg, hands not doing much except for just hanging out, the teacher walked up, looked at me, and said (literally): “Oh, absolutely not!” She then re-arranged my hands so that one hand clasped the wrist of the other arm, put the hand-wrist combo firmly engaged with the arch of my foot, and then positioned my arms so that my elbows were sticking out to either side of me, like this:
She then said, “That is the pose,” and walked on to the next student. And I smiled, because I have never had a teacher so blatantly say to me (basically), “Nope, wrong! Not in my class! Nice try sister, but try again.” I love that I received clear, specific, precise direction – and all done from a place of truly wanting me to progress and get better. I can get down with that.
So. All in all, it was a weird, semi-difficult start to class today; but at the end of it, I felt tremendously better. Still not quite “normal”, but certainly much more grounded, stable, and calm – all very notable and valuable states. Moving both body and mind from extreme tension to semi-ease – such is the amazing (and very real) power of yoga.