“Four seconds in, four seconds out…”
“Good. Five deep, full, breaths…”
“For these last two breaths I want you to focus on holding the pose, no fidgeting, no adjusting, just breathe into it…”
It is the same every time. I hear the soothing voice of my yoga instructor and will myself to stand there, holding the pose, focusing all of my attention on the task at hand. Inevitably by the exhale portion of the second breath, I’ve lost my focus.
My mind begins to wander and I remind myself to return to the “intentions” I set at the start of class.
Give myself grace.
I find that the first requires the latter.
Occasionally I dream of a reality where I am the zen, flexible and fit yogi. Now, of course, I fully recognize that my current commitment to the practice and overzealous and distractable personality impede this dream a fair amount. But yet, I force myself to return to yoga again, and again.
I’m not good at yoga.
If you attended class with me you might think that I am good at yoga. I attempt all the poses, I am somewhat balanced, I can do a headstand and that full bind thing we do, but I’m not good at yoga. You may find me at a 6am yoga class and I may be fooling you. Don’t be fooled.
I’m not good at yoga because I try to win yoga.
You can’t win yoga. I like activity that has a clear, attainable goal – running, weight lifting, volleyball, football, hiking, Circuit Blast or Body Pump Classes… you get the picture. Almost all other physical feats affirm that broken part of my identify that longs to be the best and strives to put off an air of proficiency and strength. Not yoga.
I’m learning that yoga is more about truly connecting than it is about performing. It’s slowing your breath in order to open up your body in a way that is uncomfortable on several levels. It’s easing into a challenge and working up to the grandiose and showy postures. It requires patience and delayed gratification. Yoga is slow in a world where speed rules all.
Yoga disrupts my desire to produce and instead offers me the opportunity to find stillness. It’s not my favorite.
But I force myself to return none the less. When I am tempted to choose sleep, I drag myself out of my warm bed because I know it’s important to put myself in a position of discomfort. When I feel the urge to choose a more “tangible” workout, I walk into the Y, yoga mat in hand because I know that the parts of me that choose productivity, chaos, and busy, are not the parts that make my heart come alive. Those parts are not what I want to be known for.
I long to be present. I long to be where I am both mentally and physically. I long to communicate attention and love in my most valuable relationships. I want to always love where I am, without feeling the guilt of where I am not.
So, I force myself to do yoga, because it is one small step in practicing and living out my values.