I did something this past weekend. I went to my very first yoga class. It was Sunday evening at 4:00 pm and I was about 30 seconds away from saying “nawwww, I’ll just stay home.” Why? Because it was my first class. Because this meant that I would be “less than perfect” at yoga, and this meant that my inflexibility would be on highlight for everyone to see. Because this meant that I would have to start from scratch in yoga. I already spent the last 4 years building up strength in weight training; I was not feelin’ the idea of having to essentially “re-start!”
And then I shut my thoughts up, and got my butt to the class. Let’s put it this way: I’m sure as heck happy I did. 90% of the class my butt was up in the air, and for 100% of the time I felt like Buddha. No, I’m not mocking the yoga class. This is my way of saying it was freakin’ awesome.
This was a basics class, and yet I looked around the room with an eagerness to find someone else who was sweating as much as I already was. Sure, I can lift weights for an hour at a time, but throw me into a yoga studio where my flexibility is being tested and things will look pretty different.
That being said, I love a challenge. I love pushing my body in new ways; and this was definitely new for me. I’ve struggled for as long as I can remember with the idea that I must be absolutely “perfect” at one thing, and one thing only. For example, as soon as I began weight training, I wanted to build this “sculpted” and “toned” physique. I wanted weight training to consume my time until I perfected it. Of course, we all sit here reading this and acknowledge that it is unrealistic to assume we can reach absolute perfection. Also, where is the fun in this? Isn’t the enjoyment itself found in the process of improvement?
To be honest, I still struggle with this black or white thinking, or perfectionistic mindset. So of course, in the yoga class, I felt my mind wandering to the ways in which I could learn how to do a handstand faster, or learn how to twist my legs over my head by a very unrealistic date. And then I had to bring myself back to the present moment.
Back to the pose that we were in. Back to the low-lit room I was in, back to feeling my body against the floor (or the “earth” as our instructor called it), back to hearing her repeat the names of the poses that I can’t pronounce (or spell) for the life of me, and back to my breath. Back to feeling my stomach and chest rise and fall with each breath.
And back to freeing myself from self-judgement. I may not be where I want to be at this moment with yoga; and that’s okay. It’s okay that this will be a journey; one of frustrations, proud accomplishments, and a lot of work. It’s okay that at this moment, I’m just starting out. It means I have the whole process in front of me to look forward to.
The beauty of yoga is that it’s not about how quickly you’re able to do the splits. It’s just about being present in the moment and present with your body. This is something that I don’t usually feel fully. I find myself judging my body more than accepting it; and for the hour I was in yoga, I was free from these judgements.
I wouldn’t mind feeling this way again.