In IDEA we have had discussions of The Labyrinth and how every challenge we face is exemplified by it.Ross puts it more eloquently than I do but here’s the gist of it: there is a call to action that drives you in. Once inside, there are monsters to fight through, a maze to get lost in, and it keeps descending and the goal is to reach the center. Once you reach the center it isn’t a big celebration or a substantial life changing moment. It usually isn’t. You don’t get a level up as if you were in a video game. The feeling you get is subtle, just a reassurance or a sign that only you can interpret. It’s the reassurance that you’re going in the right direction. It’s a moment of stillness which lasts for maybe a second and you have be in tune with yourself to catch it or it will pass. Ross told us that we can get stuck in every phase of the Labyrinth. Sometimes we don’t answer the call, other times we get stopped by the monsters or get lost in the maze, and other times we reach the center and don’t want to leave. The reality of life is the force which pulls us out. It took me about two weeks to get stuck in the center. I was planning my days around what yoga class I wanted to go to that day. I was going four or five times a week. Aili taught her fair share of classes. I went to two or three of them a week plus Carolyn’s and Alex’s weekend classes. The thing which was making me come back again and again wasn’t anything related to my initial intentions.
Yes, it was a good workout, I enjoyed how much the class made me sweat, and it didn’t matter that I wasn’t “good” at it. The last point drove home that this was something I wanted to do. Yoga doesn’t care if you’re “good” enough. The class is open to anyone who wants to be there. It feels like a completely inclusive environment which is similar to about two other places I’ve been to. I would say IDEA is close to it, as well as the summer camp I’ve worked at the past four summers. I enjoy the idea that even if it is a class setting, you’re not there for any other reason than what brought you to the class that specific day. The practice allows you to get in tune with yourself and figure out why you need yoga. It is nice to slow down and really check in with ourselves because we sometimes forget to do that. When I say check in I don’t mean asking yourself: what do I have to do next? Checking in is: what do I need in this moment?
Something people don’t talk about when talking about yoga are the resonating stories shared by the teacher at the beginning and end of their classes. Whether they are anecdotes, quotes, fables, or something they came across that week. When people ask me how was class the first thing I share is the anecdote from the class. There isn’t a pressure to perform in the class. Sometimes when you work out with people you feel obligated to keep up with your work out partner. It is good to be pushed out of your comfort zone but some days you might not be feeling it. Then you become forced to do something you don’t really want to do. At that point you’re not working out for yourself anymore. In yoga the focus is always you. It understands that everyone is at different points in their life and that’s okay. Your gender, age, race, sexuality, and beliefs don’t matter – everyone’s equal. Who wouldn’t want to be exposed to that type of environment as much as possible?
There was a two week period where I was going to class five times a week and I stopped lifting. I looked in the mirror one day and thought to myself ‘I look skinny’. I felt compelled to go to the gym again because as much fun yoga is, it’s not building the type of muscle I want to sustain. I don’t need to go to yoga five times a week. Unfortunately, the class which got cut was Carolyn’s Saturday class. I settled into doing yoga three times a week: Monday, Friday, and Sunday. Also with school work accumulating it wasn’t a bad decision to cut back. Reality pulled me back out and for my own good because there was an imbalance for those two weeks.
After a month of doing yoga, my mentality about it changed. It was no longer a practice which I saw as something which would be fun to get back into. It transformed into: this is my yoga time. I had a routine set. To be honest, it feels very robotic typing it out; I would get there early so I wouldn’t be rushed, get the same spot for every class, drink a certain amount of water before, and eat a specific meal for the class that day. During the class I would really try and tune in and extract a lesson from the anecdotes and ask myself how to apply them to my life. I would attack my poses. It sounds ridiculous but that’s how I felt. The poses were something I needed to master. For no other reason than I felt a need to push myself with every pose, to go a little further than I did the class before.
This mindset didn’t last long, thankfully. What took me out of it was an incident which happened in a class. For some reason I had a string of two or three classes where I just sweat a tremendous amount. Maybe it was my body becoming used to the temperature or the room temperature was higher those days, the reason isn’t important. It was a Monday class taught by Aili and I was a fountain of sweat. It looked like I emptied my water bottle on myself. Of course the sweat goes onto my mat towel and mat. My area looked like someone transferred a portion of the Pacific onto it. I was in corpse pose and had to sit up. When I did the mat towel and mat stuck to my back. I planted my hand and since my mat was soaked my hand slipped and made a squish sound. It was loud and it sounded like a fart. I turn and look at the two people beside me and they glance at each other and have a telepathic talk, “You hear him fart? Yeah, totally.” It completely took me out of my thought process. I was a little embarrassed even though I knew I would never see those two people ever again. The embarrassment quickly left and all I wanted to do was laugh. I needed something silly to happen to remind myself this isn’t supposed to be super serious all the time. It’s supposed to be fun and if I’m not having fun then I’m doing something wrong. The serious stuff can wait until when I’m explaining why yoga is important to me, but while I’m doing it I should be having fun.
Part Three of Rediscovering Yoga will be posted tomorrow. Click here for Part One.
It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole
“What do I need in this moment?” – is what caught my attention most in this post. I double dare you to try answering it. Right now, right here. Don’t scroll down. Answer it. Think about it. Get lost in your response. Do it.
It’s freaking hard.
My answer? I need to find my own overly loud, slightly embarrassing, and mucho silly hand fart. I need to hunt down a solid chuckle that makes me laugh from my belly.
I hope you find what you need.
Thanks Yoga and Irving. We owe you one. Thanks for reminding us to take a minute for ourselves; to steal time to hunker down and recenenter, to feel our insides and breathe in our outsides. Then, to tell ourselves little kid jokes, eat rocket popsicles while sitting on the grass, laugh at fart noises, run like mad down the street just because, and call popcorn and cookies dinner (since adults can do that).