Thursday, November 8, 2007

My Two Cents

When I took yoga during my undergrad days at Kent State, my instructor had us keep a yoga log, a little journal that we jotted down poses that felt good or ones that we struggled with.

Well, as you know by now, I'm an over-achiever. My log wasn't a log but a lovely illustrated journal that, seriously and sincerely, connected my experiences with yoga to my writing life, my personal relationships, my driving, my breathing, etc. I think that semester I wrote a few good poems, a good paper, and a sucky paper. Beyond that almost all energy went into my yoga journal.

Needless to say, my instructor loved it so much that she kept it for her teaching portfolio and to use as sample in future classes.

I'm bragging.

About yoga.

Clearly, the plot is thickening.

Because I haven't been able to attend yoga classes at night because I teach during those times, Megan, my yoga teacher, has been having private sessions with me Monday mornings.

Honestly, those sessions with her have been one thing (apart from Dan) that make me happy this semester. They keep me sane.

I've overcome a lot of fears and mental obstacles working with Megan. She's playful yet challenging. Just what I need. And not having others around helps me. It forces me to be competitive only with myself. A lesson I keep learning over and over again. Our sessions have really helped me develop my daily yoga practice and work on poses that help my back and heart (emotionally speaking). And I'm not bragging when I say this, but my practice is growing and I'm proud of my yoga accomplishments, especially my Downward Dog and Inversions. I work hard every morning to center, focus, breathe, and shine. Some days are better than others, but I see my improvements and I'm really proud of them. And there's nothing wrong with being proud, unless it goes to the next level.

When I found out that Megan was teaching a 6:30 class on Tuesday nights, I realized I could attend it. I only teach until 5:15 on Tuesdays. So I signed up.

And this is where my story/yoga journal begins.

It's a Yoga 1 class, so I went to it, thinking, "Cool. I know this stuff. I'll be all good."

I mean I wanted to practice in class again because I wanted the group experience. I like the idea of a bunch of people creating energy in the same space and, figuratively speaking, sharing it with one another. And I like knowing poses already because then I don't feel like an idiot during class.

However, my competition ego kicked in (I blame my competitive ego on my MFA program--survival of the fittest), and upon getting to class I was scoping out which peeps were my yoga rivals. (I know, I know, WTF is wrong with me?!)

I realized this line of thinking (as yoga teaches and Jesus), and I made a conscious effort to let go of this ego. To acknowledge it and then say, "Competition does not belong in yoga unless it is with myself, so the people I am with are my peers, my fellow energy builders..." (Yes, I do honestly say this hippie BS to myself and I believe it.)

The competitive ego started going away, which made me happy.

We started out breathing, doing Mountain, Downward Dog...I was thinking, "Yes, I know all this. Good. I can do this and push myself further in my practice." I was happy with this level. It was safe.

Then we started walking from pinkie toe spreading our foot flesh inward until the whole foot was on the ground--it was so slow. We started "flopping" (on our stomachs with our toes raised, then rolling over or "flopping" so we had flat feet) and "reverse flopping" (from flat foot to toes raised). I got all this, but I had a hell of time doing it. In fact, I couldn't do it.

Suddenly, my thoughts went from happy to "I fucking hate yoga! This class sucks!"

In classes, I always have a love/hate relationship with yoga. Ugh.

Then we did backbends. Fine. I'm working on those. But when we started doing the Table as a backbend, I hit my limit. I couldn't go any further. I was all, "Fuck this!" until I realized I could be hateful and pissy or I could accept my limitations, breathe and realize there's always something I have to learn. And then be open to that learning.

I thought, "I've been doing a lot of learning this semester. I'm kinda sick of it."

Then I almost laughed. Right in the middle of class. I was sounding, in my head--of course-- like an crotchety old man. Me who loves learning. Who loves challenges. Who loves life no matter how shitty it seems to be. Me who is a cute Hello Kitty-loving girl.

I've been taking myself way to seriously lately. And that is why I'm not having fun this semester.

I arrived at my first lesson of this yoga session. On top of "flopping." I'm in for a big treat.

So yesterday was totally shitty, and I was all worked up about stupid department and school bullshit. But now that I wrote this reflection, I realize that yesterday I wasn't practicing what I learned in yoga class. Not flopping, per se, or weird walking, though I am working on these things, but the main lesson--not take myself so seriously. I'm not perfect. I have to learn. What the fuck else is life about? If not these life lessons or meditation practices, then it's about having a job, earning money and dying.

I'll take the life lessons, thanks.

My favorite thing about class was this: I actually craved Savasana.

During my last private session with Megan I told her that my daily practice is really good, but I have a hard time staying in Savasana at the end of it for more than an minute. I just want to get up and get on with my day. Resting and reflecting on the practice is the hardest part for me. She said at some point my body would crave Savasana.

I didn't think it would be that soon.

My body and I are beginning to understand each other. Now if only I could get my mind to settle. Another challenge to overcome. Or still to overcome. Or to always overcome.

I'm thinking, though, that after every class (my private sessions are private) I'm going to write reflections. Not to show off my BOSS reflection skills, but to help me overcome.

This one is already starting to do the trick.

1 comment:

beth said...

God, this was so good to read, and it makes me want to try to get back into yoga practice. You were so real about it, about the stuff that goes in and out of our heads when we're supposed to be breathing, to be concentrating on the moment, etc. I feel like I'm poisoning my body right now with my work, and reading this was inspiring. Thanks AMR. Love you, miss you. BK.