This morning I took my third Yoga class at the new studio I found, which I wrote about last week in my post, Finding My Yoga Home.
It was an 8:30 class, Yoga Levels 1 and 2, and was taught by a different teacher, the owner of the studio. She was warm and welcoming, which reinforced my sense of feeling at home in this Yoga teaching space. I was excited and eager to get on the mat and begin practice. I was ready to learn some new poses, get some correction as needed for my alignment, work my muscles and ramp up my heart rate. I felt pretty confident in my level of flexibility and strength and wanted to show the teacher what I could do. I know…very un-Zen like of me. I am embarrassed to even write this, and could easily just delete the entire sentence, but if I can’t be honest, what would be the point?
Well, this class had much to teach me, and humility was only the beginning. The class was focused on being aware and mindful of how the tiniest of body movement affects different muscles and joints. We were lying down with blocks under our torso and head though half of the 90 minute class. The teacher instructed us to move our fingers, one by one, and notice where in the forearm, biceps and shoulders we felt the engagement. It was interesting, but I was itching to get up and practice some standing poses. Patience had deserted me.
We finally moved off of our backs and into an all fours position, only again to stay there noticing the palms of our hands, the wiggling of fingers, the weight on our knees, and then our feet and each toe, both with our toes curled under and lying flat. How much awareness do you think I could muster with my level of impatience at a level 10? Even while appreciating the value of the lesson….it wasn’t holding my attention. My mind was everywhere except on that mat.
We then moved into a childs pose and went down onto our bellies preparing to enter into a baby cobra. I perked up….”here we go” I thought happily. Well, the teacher kept correcting me. She kept telling me to put my forehead back down on the mat and lift with my chest up. I thought that was what I was doing, but apparently I was doing it wrong. I was using my shoulders to lift, instead of my core and leading with my head and not my chest. But I couldn’t correct it even when she gently pried back my shoulders and held my head down. She said she could tell I had been practicing Vinyassa and would have to relearn some of my habits. Habits? I was crushed. My daily home practice with my beautiful gazelle-like YouTube Yoga teacher had resulted in bad habits? I wasn’t even doing a Baby Cobra pose correctly? And what about the hours I’ve been putting in at the gym cross training to strengthen my arms so I can eventually flow into the perfect chaturanga? I was so frustrated and confused. I couldn’t really understand what she wanted my body to do and I couldn’t get my body to do what it was that she wanted. Not only had I not done Yoga well, I had failed.
I was so discouraged that I experienced a strong swell of emotion that almost knocked me off of my mat. I started to cry. I felt my throat close up and my eyes fill with tears. I was loosing it over a Baby Cobra. I pulled it together before anyone noticed but that surprisingly sudden emotional response had left me feeling utterly drained and defeated.
When we were finally lying in shavasana, the teacher guided us with a beautiful meditation and then read a lovely poem about stillness. I felt gratitude that I was able to find my breath and let my mind empty. I was able to let go and feel a sense of much-needed peace. Meditation ended with the lovely sound of the bell.
The teacher was wonderful, kind, knowledgeable and very attentive. The class was valuable and challenging. My negative response had nothing to do with anyone or anything other than myself. This Yoga class lead me to face my own pride, failure, perfectionism, impatience, lack of gratitude and humility. And as I choked down tears while in childs pose, I was truely a child. A baby learning to hold her held up in Baby Cobra. A beginner learning to start over, take a step forward into new territory and start the journey to walk in a new way.
And so, I am even more certain than ever that I have found my Yoga Home.
I can’t wait for the next class. And maybe I might still learn to flow into that perfect chaturanga. Only Yoga knows.