I love yoga. I’ve been practicing for a long time. I’m not even really sure how long…maybe 8 years? I’m being trained to teach and I’m finishing up my certification in April.
So last night, I’m with my husband and another couple. They are dear, dear friends who have been a constant, reliable, supportive part of our lives for 15 years or so. I love them. I just want to say, I love them and I love my husband. I want to put that out there first.
A little about yoga…
Yoga is about inner transformation. We use asana (or poses) to help us physically work through some of our internal, emotional stuff. In yoga, you often find yourself in uncomfortable positions. This is on purpose. Yoga is about making the uncomfortable comfortable. It’s about bringing awareness to the places where we are agitated so we can work through it.
The real work in yoga begins when you are really dying in a pose…when you want to come out of the pose…when you think you can’t do it. Then, you breathe and surrender and stay…and each time it gets easier…you find freedom…you push past boundaries… you are transformed.
The goal is to practice these things on your mat so you can go into the world and live in that space of breathing and surrendering and staying. Life can be uncomfortable but we cannot walk around a bundle of nerves, screaming, shouting, judging, and giving up.
This brings me back to my husband and my friends. (Whom I love dearly)
They are all successful, intelligent, generous, reliable, trustworthy and loyal. They are also Type -A, over- achieving, super regimented, scheduled, aggressive, determined, goal setting and goal reaching warriors.
This is can be helpful and this can be…shall we say…limiting.
Last night they told me when I teach yoga, I need to make sure no one comes in late. They want me to send people packing if they are not there early. They said they don’t ever want to hear me asking them to move their mat to make room for a few more people. They feel that if they get there early and set up, then why should they have to move for people who are coming in late?
I tried to explain that we never know what it takes some people to get there and just being there sometimes is half the battle. As a teacher, we want to make sure all feel welcome and encouraged.
Yeah, no. That wasn’t going over. They want to know for sure that I will never ask them to move their mat for the “late people”. Now, let me point out, they admit some of these people are just “on time” but since they (my husband and friends) arrive early, they should have dibs and should not be asked to move.
Now at this point it is sort of becoming funny. I break out my phone to record them because I have to admit, it’s kind of perfect. It’s a clear indication that these three people (whom I love dearly) need yoga.
I explained the part about being uncomfortable and working through it. But I’m afraid it was falling on deaf ears.
Here are some of the best quotes of the night… “Why did this hot girl have to take off her sweats and wear boy shorts? It’s distracting. I couldn’t stop looking at her. I couldn’t focus, that’s just not right.” “Some guy didn’t wear a shirt…gross…you need to wear a shirt.” “Yeah and some girl farted next to me and it was nasty and the whole time I was thinking everyone thought I did it.” “I just want to be in a corner and be left alone.” “I can’t have people touching me.” “I don’t want to stagger my mat, I want space…I need my space.” Imagine them all egging each other on with supportive head nods and spoken and unspoken affirmations.
I tried to explain that your mat is your island. You have your space. But they want space around them. They don’t want to make goal post arms when they are supposed to do a full out swan dive. They don’t want to be limited.
But here’s the thing. They are limited. They are limited because they are grasping so tightly to the way they think it “must be” in order for things to be “right”.
Moving away from those limitations is yoga. This is why I practice (because I’m limited too) and why I want to share my love of yoga with others.
People come away from yoga with fewer limitations on themselves and that translates to being more accepting in the world. It’s about dropping expectations and the notion that there is one right way. Having to make goal post arms is practice for the times when we have to adjust in life to different circumstances. We realize there is beauty and grace in the adjusting.
I remember someone telling me once that Savasana (corpse pose) is the most difficult pose for them. I found this to be really surprising. I mean, how hard is it to lay on your back and relax? Well, for some people it’s absolute torture. They need to move. But in time, with practice, they learn to surrender and they are no longer limited by their “need to move”. They are transformed.
I’ll admit that someone farting next to you is not ideal and I’d recommend you don’t eat a burrito before class. I would also recommend you arrive early to find your space and to unwind a little before class begins.
I’ll also admit there have been times when I have been irritated and upset by other people. I’m not saying I’m a perfect, loving, accepting person at all times. I’m not. That’s why I keep practicing yoga.
And that’s why I will always welcome anyone who wants to practice with me. It would be an honor. We will move mats and adjust our arms and stagger the way we stand. We will accept that there is not one “right” way and we will surrender to what is. We will smile and laugh and celebrate that we made it to our mats and that whatever is going on “out there” will not seep into our sacred space “in here”. We will recognize and honor the teacher and student in each of us. We will be beginners together – open to grace and transformation. We will breathe together and we will say Namaste and mean it.
And on those days when we don’t mean it, when we don’t feel it, when we are mad and annoyed…on those days we will go through the motions, we will show up and we will be uncomfortable and we will muddle through together…because there is learning in that. There is grace in the muddling through.
Yoga teaches us that perfection is a lie.
I’m so blessed to have found it. Because it accepted me… a Type -A, over- achieving, super regimented, scheduled, aggressive, determined, goal setting and goal reaching warrior and showed me how to be a different kind of warrior…the kind of warrior that shares grace with others…even if they show up a few minutes late.
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