Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How Yoga is Like Rehab

Yes, just like a stint in rehab, I have been going to yoga for the past 28 days steady (and dragging La with me). In those 28 days, I have missed three: two Sundays and a Monday when the weather was too nice and we needed to make some progress on the tiny house. Sicily goes anywhere between four and five days a week.

So in every class I hit three key points:

1. I don’t want to. This is the point right as we get started after we come into our breath that I just want to flee. I don’t want to be in class, I don’t want to be stretchy, I don’t feel like working it out or doing a pose or holding Warrior I, II or III for a long time. I want to stare out the window, watch the squirrels that run along the fence, and smell that lovely yoga studio smell (usually nag champa, but sometimes mixed in with other stuff). It’s peaceful, clean, and there are no dogs there or bathrooms that desperately need to be cleaned. So just sitting on my mat at the back of the class and listening would be awesome.

2. No thoughts in my head. Unfortunately, this part doesn’t last long enough, but the harder the classes get, the longer it lasts (and harder classes tend to intensify the feeling of #1 also). This is the point when the poses are so intense, or the flow so rapid that just keeping up with my breath and making sure I don’t fall on my face subsumes all other thoughts of the tiny house, money, parenting: any kind of stress. All I can concentrate on is movement, the feeling of all limbs expanding and contracting. Since it hurts (or as yoga teachers like to say, "It's intense") I wouldn’t say it’s blissful, but I can say that for 15 minutes every day (except Sunday) my mind is utterly washed clean and blank. If you know me, you know that this alone is worth the price of admission.

3. Annnnnd we’re back. Also known as “shivasana” or “savasana,” Corpse Pose is the last pose in any yoga class. It’s when you relax and release down into the floor and just let go of all effort. Arms and legs akimbo, there is no control of the breath. This means, of course, that my brain switches back on. In 28 days, I don’t think I have spent a combined total of five minutes doing this pose correctly, and by correctly I mean utterly surrendering to the pose, letting the floor support me. I just cannot get my brain to shut the hell up. I write whole blogs during this time, problem-solve issues with the tiny house, and plan the rest of the week. Not. The. Point.

I get impatient with myself in points one and three. After 28 days, I should be over this. I should recognize at a cellular level that I am doing something deeply wonderful for myself in point one, and I should not be wanting to flee. At point three, I should at least be able to focus on one inhale and exhale, keep the focus on my body rooting down, not my brain floating up. I am pretty sure the teacher knows what I am doing because my eyes twitch incessantly as my brain goes, so I bought a lavender-scented eye pillow for that (both to hide it and to maybe weigh things down a bit), but today after class I am not entirely sure that I didn’t, at one point, start talking to myself on the mat.
And then I get impatient with myself for getting impatient with myself. And that’s just plain silly.

I love yoga because I confront the very worst parts of myself – judgment, impatience, anger – look at them, then work hard to let them go. Not 100% successfully, but it’s a process. I get impatient at times, and it is in those times that I injure myself (fall on my face in Crow Pose, bruise an elbow in a handstand). So it’s metaphoric and yet painfully real when I push through things I am not ready for, physically, mentally, or emotionally. But the other side is utterly triumphant when I do something that, 28 days ago, was not a remote possibility (chaturanga dandasana and the aforementioned Crow Pose, if even just for a moment or two).

So I sign up and strap in for the next 28 days. Coincidentally the same number of days in February, the cruelest of month in our calendar from now on. Pretty sure I’m going to need that eye pillow…

No comments:

Post a Comment