As part of the Doing Things Differently, I’m working at upping my activity level. Let me tell you between the still having random trouble with my foot and a monster cold, I’m still not where I want to be. Running is doable (at least running/walking) occasionally, but not as much as I’d like. Swimming is tough because of the whole nose breathing part, but yoga is something that when I’m not totally exhausted, I’m able to get through.
A bit ago, I received a flow chart from MsBix asking if I wanted to go to a Hot Yoga class with her on a mutual day off. (A flow chart because Nosy Nelson of an office mate likes to see what she’s doing. Step off Nosy Nelson!) A chance to get some quality time with MsBix (one of my favorite people in the world) and a yoga (something I’m learning to like more) session in? I’m in!
I reminded her that I really suck at it and that if she was better than me, she was going to have to move her mat.
As I sat in that hot room with the teacher walking us through various poses, something happened. Something I needed. At some point in the teacher’s “patter” she remarked that what brought us to the mat that day was about us and what we needed. That it wasn’t about what our neighbor brought to the mat that day or what we thought we needed to be or do on that mat, but about what we needed. It might be different that day than it will the next day too.
I took that as permission to give into my start ignoring her meditative patter and focus on what my body was doing.
Parts of it were really physically hard. Planks still suck and the right side of my body is significantly more flexible than the left side. I was up against sweaty palms, my upper body being weaker than I’d like, and sweat stinging my eyes, but each time she’d start her patter, I just moved my focus to not falling over or the muscles holding the pose itself.
I got through the class only breaking once when I started to feel woozy and see stars. I wiped my face off, took a few sips of water and got back into the pose they were working on. I don’t know if her not adjusting any of my poses is a reflection of the control I have over what my body is doing, or her cutting the new girl some slack, but for this class, I’m choosing to believe the former.
Later, I was reading this article and something stood out to me. Allow me to directly quote it:
…But the good news is that yoga works in a way that is so much more beautiful and brilliant than that. A yoga practice is an hour or so where we meet our selves on our mat, with all of our strengths and vulnerabilities, where we continuously pay attention to what is happening in the present moment and respond skillfully and without judgment. This could be adjusting a pose on the yoga mat so that it doesn’t hurt anymore (even if this means not being perfect) or off of the yoga mat — noticing cues in our environment and attending to them in a way that supports us without compromising our self or others…
What I thought about on the mat in that class wasn’t about what others needed me to do or even what the teacher wanted me to do. It was about what I needed to do to get through the class. It was about admitting that I’m not good at clearing my mind and meditating and letting that go. (I’m left feeling frustrated that I can’t follow directions or do what they’re asking of me.) It was about engaging at what I am good at, hyper focus for short amounts of time onto solving a specific problem. Like not falling over or passing out.
By letting go of what I wasn’t good at, I was able to focus on what I wanted to get out of it. And I enjoyed it. Go figure.
I may never be able to clear my mind, but shifting the focus from my usual disorganized thought so a specific place isn’t that bad of a thing. Even if it is the hyper focus of “Holy crap my shoulders and hands hurt, do not fall over or give up!” instead of a clear mind.
When I show up at the mat, the lane, or the treadmill/sidewalk, it’s not about anything except me being there and doing what I need to do to get through it. I’m there for my reasons and mine alone.
I’d like to thank MsBix for inviting me to go to that class. Without her doing so, I may not have come to this conclusion for quite some time if ever.
Photo from here.