Yesterday, I was really tired. You know the kind of tired where you can hardly move without hurting? I felt like that. I had to be at work at 7 AM, and the day felt really long. I got home, took a little nap and still didn’t feel refreshed. So, I made myself a deal that if I did a restorative yoga class last night, then I would do a challenging class today. I have to tell you that last night’s class was yummy. I actually did two classes. The first class was a restorative class with bolsters and long holdings utilizing gravity to hold the poses. There was no effort. There was no pain. There was just pure supported comfort. After I finished that, I did a 35 minute Yoga Nidra with Rod Stryker. He has this amazing, sexy voice, and it literally transported me into another dimension. I slept like a baby and didn’t get up until late this morning. I felt so rested. The deal was that today I would do something challenging. I was actually still sore this morning. Yesterday I was really sore. Doing yoga 4 days in a row is exercise whether I like to think of it that way or not. I prefer to think of it as a mind-body wellness practice, but yoga builds a lot of strength and is even good for cardiovascular health with the right practices. So, for my challenging class, I picked a practice that focused on one of my favorite yoga poses, Wheel or Upward-Facing Bow.
When I first started practicing yoga in 2000, I was obsessed with Wheel Pose. I saw a picture of it, and I was drawn to learning how to do it. I practiced and practiced at home. I didn’t have the strength in my arms. I didn’t have the flexibility in my back. I finally build up enough strength and flexibility to do it, and then I took a teacher training class and learned I was doing it all wrong. Luckily, I still had the strength, so it was a matter of learning to do it the right way. I’m surprised and pleased that I never hurt myself. As good as yoga is for you, you can definitely get hurt. Any teacher that tries to get you into inversions or deep backbends as a beginner might be a dangerous teacher. Any pose that is centered around your spine doing things it doesn’t normally do should only be done under the guidance of a good teacher. I’ll get off my soapbox. You can find out more about Wheel Pose at YogaJournal.com
Today’s class took me through a Vinyasa (where one pose flows into another) practice warming up my body and my back for Wheel. It was really challenging. I found myself shaking through the whole second half of the class. Along with the shaking, I was trying hard not to beat myself up. Why did you stop doing yoga? You used to do this without any problem. I had to really work against my tendency to push myself beyond where I needed to go in the poses. It worked. I didn’t beat myself up too badly, and I was still strong enough to do Wheel Pose twice before collapsing into an amazingly restful Savasana.
Upward-Facing Bow (Wheel Pose)
One of my girlfriends called me just as I finished my practice. She told me that she had a terrible bike accident yesterday. She was bruised up, hurting and more than a bit scared about riding her bike again. I said I was sorry, and she told me that wasn’t why she called. She said, “You will be so proud of me.” This morning she had gotten up afraid of riding her bike again and hurting from being banged up. “I told myself that I was not going to let myself give up. Riding my bike is good for me, and it will make me feel better and maybe even help me sleep. So, I got back on and rode it again!” she excitedly said. I was proud of her. What an amazing thing she did for herself.
Later, I started thinking about how I practiced yoga steadily for about 5 years. I was really strong. I could do most of the inversions. I felt comfortable in my physical body, and I loved the practice. Then I started resisting practice more and more. Since then, it’s been on again and off again. I complained about myself to a yoga teacher one day, and he said that’s why they call it a ‘practice’. We don’t have to be perfect. How I practice my yoga is a metaphor for how I live my life. I don’t do it perfectly. Sometimes I’m weaker or lazier than others. Sometimes, I just hide and don’t show up at all. Other times, I am courageous and get back at it again. Just like my friend, I have to just keep getting back on the mat. It’s not whether or not I do it well that matters. What matters is that I keep going back at it to take care of myself.
Alex, the teacher from last night’s yummy class, kept urging me to repeat, “I acknowledge and celebrate the work done thus far.” I loved the way that phrase felt in my psyche and in my soul. I’ve lived 54 years in this lifetime. I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve married and divorced. I’ve moved across country several times. I’ve failed at relationships – all kinds. I’ve succeeded at relationships – all kinds. I’ve built at least two long-term careers in different fields. I’ve been good and bad and everything in between. While my body was lovingly folded into itself yesterday evening, I truly did acknowledge and celebrate the work I’d done thus far. And in today’s practice, I acknowledged and celebrated the work that is yet to be done.
Right now, it’s time for dinner. I’m having crawfish pie and roasted green beans. I’m having a celebration … and I have 6 days of yoga to thank for it. Namaste, y’all. It’s a Louisiana Saturday Night, for sure.