Nothing remains the same.
Some days you can be up, like I was the other day to achieve my very first handstand during yoga practise.
Other days, you fall down. Crash. Burn. Like today.
I didn’t want to go to yoga this morning. Up at 5:30am. The same as I have done for the past 5 months, every weekend morning. I could have easily justified staying home as I’ve only missed one weekend class. But if I opted out today for no valid reason, it would only be too easy to do again, and then again, whenever I didn’t particularly feel like putting in the effort. Showing up.
Off I went.
Class was quiet. Though there are 2 heaters at either end of the room working to take the chill off, it’s somewhat cold in the studio these days. It looked like 4 or 5 others from class weren’t there for whatever reason, so a smaller class.
Saturday morning is our Mysore practise, where you basically practise the Astanga First (or Primary) Series of poses on your own in a particular sequence, rather than as you do in a teacher-led class. You have to learn both the poses and the sequence to do them in. If you mess the sequence up Astanga teachers will usually tell you to start over from the beginning. It feels like months since that’s happened though. Also, you only go as far in the series as you can do the poses fairly proficiently. And only move on to a new, more challenging pose when your teacher feels you are ready.
Once I started this morning I actually felt quite good. Strong.
Being 5 months in to this yoga teacher training program I’ve seen progress in my flexibility, but not so much with my strength so it’s something I’ve been struggling with. It causes problems with poses. Even the basics. But today I felt pretty good starting out.
I was only maybe 2 minutes into it when one of the teachers came by and provided a few slight adjustments, which is normal. But she then went on to say I was leading with the wrong foot when stepping back in Chaturanga Dandasana. I didn’t realize that was wrong. I know for most poses you always lead with your right but I thought for Chatauranga it was okay to alternate.
How did I not know? I’ve been alternating like this for a while now as it helps counter-act some problems I’ve been having with my left shoulder.
My flow, breath and concentration felt interrupted. Disturbed.
Next, our (teacher training) teacher came over and corrected me again. Well, she suggested how I best do something. My thoughts charged full-speed ahead,
So, I’m not only moving my feet wrong but now I guess I’m doing this wrong too. What she’s asking is too hard. I don’t get it. Damn! Why did this have to happen just as I felt good about being here this morning and was getting into the groove of it?
I slumped down on my mat. Turned around to the back of the class. Tears welled up. I felt so pissed! At them both.
How could they do this to me?
Then, angry at myself.
How do I let myself get like this? What’s the matter?
A friend from our class gave me a look of empathy. She wasn’t feeling great so was just sitting and observing. I told her why I was upset. Said I was going to just chill for a minute. I was thinking about what they did. She suggested I just “sit with it” for a bit. Observe what I was feeling.
Within a minute or two I was up on my feet, determined to get through it. I began again.
About 20 minutes later as I was doing Janushirshasana the first teacher came by again (well, they’d both continued with adjustments throughout my practise) and helped me to l-e-a-n into the forward bend of the posture. She leaned her body weight against my lower back. I felt my hamstrings pulling along my right leg. She told me to breathe into it. I was thinking,
I am. I am. My hamstrings are really hurting me now. This is as far as I can go.
She didn’t let up. I took another deep breath. Then exhaled and felt my body go soft … and surrendered.
My nose touched my knee.
For the first time. Really. It may sound like nothing at all to you but to me it is almost a miracle. I have never done that before…not ever… in my life I think.
I got through the practise. 2 hours of it. It was difficult. My strength was really waning throughout. But I finished.
On the way out I knew it was not them. It was only me.
How are my teachers to know that I will or will not react in a certain way when they adjust me? Or offer up advice, assistance? They don’t.
Just as no one we encounter on a day-to-day basis knows what’s going on inside of us. How we’ll react.
Life happens. People say things.
The challenge is, how we react. What’s going on inside of us. Getting in touch with how we feel. Recognizing what’s under those feelings.
I’m not sure but I think I know why I reacted today. First, I don’t like criticism. I need to recognise the difference between help and encouragement, and criticism. If it is criticism, I need to be more accepting of it and learn from it. Second, I was feeling some anxiety about accepting a new job. I needed to figure out why that was and deal with that.
This will likely all happen again and I may or may not have the same reaction when it does. I do know the ‘pause’ encouraged me, eventually, to look within.
Which is really …. what yoga is all about.