During this mornings Yoga class my teacher talked about the some of the many challenges and lessons that Yoga holds for each of us.

He pointed out the challenges of the mind, the times when we aren’t present or aware, or when we anticipate a particular pose, perhaps with fear. He also talked about the challenges our bodies face when we learn a new asana, or move toward a more advanced version of a pose.

He called the challenges that cause us pain both physically and mentally “Poison”. He used a Yoga term, but I cannot remember it. I plan on asking him at my next class.

On the other end of this spectrum, he said we reach a state that he called “Honey”. This being the journey and process of working hard to achieve any given Yoga pose and finally getting there, the sweetness of attaining it.  He also had a word for this, which I cannot recall and so I will have to ask.  Though these concepts of opposing feelings and experiences happen in all aspects of our lives as we move through our daily lives, face challenges, exceed or perhaps fail and then try again, I was really emotionally connected to its application to my Yoga Practice.

As a beginner, a year into my practice, there is so much I cannot yet do. There are many poses that seem scary, daunting and physically unattainable to me. My mind reinforces this idea, even as I write these words. In class, I try very hard. I listen to instruction and watch demonstrations intently. I push my body, twisting it into proper alignments that feel so foreign and impossible, and at times are painful. I did not practice gymnastics as a young girl, which seems like such natural progression into Yoga with its focus on alignment, graceful movements, strength building and balance work. No, I was a tomboy. I played street hockey and climbed trees and did wheelies on my bicycle. Later, I was runner, an aerobics instructor and did weight lifting.

None of these athletics prepared me for the challenge that my body endures during Yoga, even the beginning, basic asanas. In one-legged standing balance poses, like Vrksasana, Tree Pose, I wiggle all over the place. I fall out easily and I find myself so frustrated. And never mind when the more challenging variations are introduced. I am totally overcome with a negative thoughts that invariably seal my fate. I fail. I fall.  I’ve read that “one-legged poses give us a chance to find our center of gravity and play around its edges”. That sounds so lovely, but for me there is so much wobbling that I cannot create a sense of fluid stability. So here is my “poison”. The ultimate challenge of finding the strength and the balance inside my center, shut down my thoughts, and practice falling out and getting back in, as many times as it takes. That is my truth, my Satya.

The one thing I am, is flexible, probably from years of stretching before and after various workouts. I feel the “honey” during a Standing Forward Bend, (Uttanasana) and the Wide-legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana I). I feel wonderful when my palms are on the mat, my head dangling down, forehead resting against my knees. I love the feeling when my legs are far apart, expanded, the bend at my hips, hands on my ankles and my head resting on my mat. This I can do, and the joy that I feel is immeasurable.

So, for me the lesson in today’s class was easily relatable and very personal, as I continue to experience the “poison” and the “honey” in each of the three classes per week that I attend. I love Yoga. All of it.  From the new and strange and painful, to the not so new, easy and comfortable. I am tired and my muscles ache from todays class, and yet, I feel absolutely wonderful. Honey is sweet.