I determined a little over a week ago that I would participate in a promotion at the yoga studio I belong to. The challenge is to attend 20 classes in 30 days. If you complete the challenge, you get $20 in retail credit toward yoga clothes. Now, my local studio has issued similar challenges over the three years I’ve been a member. I’ve never been able to convince myself to complete one, though. The reason is simple. I’ve always thought yoga was a few times a week proposition at most. Even though I know there are people who practice every day or nearly every day, I was certain I was not meant to be one of those people. I think it’s important to take days off from exercise (especially when you’re not 20 anymore) to give your body a chance to recuperate, regroup, and come back stronger. I’ve often found that when I don’t take breaks, I’m more prone to wimp out by my fourth of fifth workout. And, as you might have guessed, I’m an all-or-nothing sort of gal so this does not work for me.
But, it’s a new year and I was up for a challenge. So, right after I signed up for a 7k run and a 5k snowshoe event and the MS150 ride, I decided what the hell? I mean, there are people far older than me doing yoga every day of the week. I can handle it, right? What have I got to lose? (Well, for starters, there’s the inch I put on in my waistline after eating cookies and sitting on my butt for the entire month of December, I guess.) What’s the worst that could happen? Well, I’m 7 days into the challenge, which is on its 9th day, and I know now what doing so much yoga will do to a person when they haven’t exercised for a month. I am sore. Really sore. My abs are so sore that it hurts to sneeze or laugh. My triceps are killing me from lowing from plank to the floor repeatedly. And, even my usually strong and quiet quads are a little squeaky. The one reason I continue to practice yoga is because it’s what keeps me from getting sore when I cross train. Yoga makes it so that I can bike one day, ski the next, and skate the day after that without ever feeling sore. So, this is new. I’m not so sure I like it.
Tonight, I went to a beginner class. It’s so-called because it’s a foundational class. The heat is lower and the instructor breaks down the poses to ensure everyone is holding the postures correctly. Consequently, you spend much longer in a pose than you might in a more advanced class. So, you’re in a lunge and you’re holding it while she talks. And you’re holding it. And you’re thinking oh good God shut up already, but she keeps talking so that 55 seconds into holding this wretched lunge your legs are quivering and you’re certain you will topple over and start a domino effect of destruction down the entire length of the room. You don’t, but you’re envisioning it and at the same time mentally strangling the instructor. I go to the beginner classes because I always learn something new there and that’s what yoga is about. It’s a practice, not a destination.
So, as she’s got us holding a position, Maria instructs us to repeat this mantra: “My practice is like the monkey bars. I have to let go to move forward.” We repeat it three times. I’m wondering, at this point, if she’s been reading my mind. Ever since I started this challenge, I’ve been resistant to it. I’m not entirely sure I will be able to complete it. I suspect I might have bitten off more than I can chew here. But then, as I’m repeating the phrase about the monkey bars, it hits me. This is what I have to let go of to move forward. I have to let go of the notion that yoga is a few times a week endeavor. To move forward in my practice, I have to let go of my preconceived idea about what my practice should be so I can see what it might become. That Maria is brilliant!
And, this is why I go to yoga and take different classes with different instructors. This way, I learn something new every single time I go. Sometimes it’s about yoga. Sometimes it’s about life. Sometimes it’s about me. I never know what I’m going to get. Tonight, one-third of the way through my challenge, I got some validation that I’m doing the right thing. I may not be thoroughly enjoying the soreness of the situation, but I’m letting go and moving forward. Maybe I’ll go a little wild tomorrow morning and toss some banana into my oatmeal.